Traditional Bags & Lucky Gifts Handmade by Romanian Textile Artisans
Each handicraft is made with love, devotion and purpose. It carries with it the culture of a community. There is a village in Northern Romania, Straja, where the main traditional element is the perfect harmony and absolute beauty of black and white contrasts.
The costumes, traditional textiles and even the houses in sober combination of black and white betray seriousness, which is the true nature of the people from Straja.
The simple black and white traditional bags, organized into logical grids, which originated in Straja, have spread across the whole region. They have been embraced by people all over Bucovina and, lately, identified as “Bucovinean” peasant bags.
The process of making traditional bags involves hours spent hand weaving at a loom. When interacting with textile artisans, you realize the amount of time and effort they put into their work. Veronea, a local textile artisan from Bucovina, explains that every inch of a traditional bag, the square patterned fabric and the straps are handwoven.
She has been weaving traditional textiles since she was a teenager, as the harsh times demanded a self-sufficient lifestyle. In her youth, she learnt tapestry weaving (scoarte), rugs (toale) and traditional blankets (cergi).
Yet, if it had not been for a neighbor, she wouldn’t have started on weaving traditional bags, she recalls. “I asked her for a woven belt and she advised me to do it myself.
With a little help from her, I managed to prepare the warp for a warp faced patterned belt. Then I started on weaving straps for peasant bags.”
Today she draws the pattern from imagination. Even though she has a hard time learning the loom, her daughter, Ana Maria, loves to take some fabric and create miniature bags with woven or plaited straps.
She filled the house with these small traditional bags, because she believes they bring luck. A red and white entwined cord (mărţişor) is traditionally used in Romania as a spring token, and believed to bring joy and good luck.
“Likewise, in ancient times, they were coins tied by black and white wool threads. The Dacians (Romanians’ ancestors) believed these amulets brought fertility, beauty and prevented sunburns and they wore them when the trees started blooming and they were later hung on the tree twigs.”