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The Craft of the Peasant Bag

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The peasant bag (traista) is an accessory of both men and women’s traditional peasant costume.

These days, peasants wear their traditional bag to church, or village celebrations.
Peasant Dress
Before, when working the fields, or going to the peasant markets, it was used for storing and carrying food.

We wear it when we go Christmas Caroling, with a bottle of something in it, just to help us forget the cold.

The bag is woven on a 4 shaft floor loom, with woolen warp and weft yarns. The shoulder strap (baiere) can be a woolen twisted cord, or a fabric woven on a loom.

Symbols and Their Meanings

The motifs range from narrow stripes and geometric square patterns to phytomorphic patterns, in two or more colors.
Peasant Bag

  • The X-shaped motif, representing St. Andrew’s cross is used as a form of protection, as it is believed that souls of the dead (strigoi) come back in the evening of Nov 30.
  • The circle is the cosmic symbol of the sun, an infinite nature of energy.
  • The square is an earth symbol of life.

Square Fabric Pattern
Into the Artisan’s Workshop and my First Loom Weaving Experience
Peasant Bag

The black and white square pattern is found in a small village located in the north side of Romania. It’s one of the last villages in Romania where fiber crafts are a source of pride for the villagers and the houses are still covered with old wooden roof tiles (dranita). These are good hearted and hard working people.
Morar Maria

Maria has been weaving traditional bags for 15 years. She learned it from her sister-in-law.

Maria was back from field work when we entered her house. She was a little embarrassed because she didn’t have time to prepare herself.
Primitive Loom Weaving

Two floor looms were already set up: a small one for the shoulder strap and the other one for the bag.

Fiber Crafts

Instead wound on the back beam, the warp is tied in knots. Each knot is untied as the work progresses. She uses acrylic (pan) fibers.
Loom Weaving

After showing us how she weaves the shoulder straps, she invited me to have a seat at the other one, and try weaving the bag (the black & white square pattern fabric).

I was a little shaky because I never weaved before, and it really felt like I was doing something important.
Loom Weaving
Loom Weaving

Peasant Bag

Loom Weaving

Floor Loom

Peasant Bag Loom Woven Gift 2″ Miniature

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