Traditional wall carpets craftsmanship of Romania and the Republic of Moldova has prevailed among peasants, as stated by historian and art critic G. Oprescu in “L’art du paysan roumain” (Bucharest, 1937, p 63). Written evidence suggests the presence of specialized weaving settlements before the mid-20 century, of full time weavers, both men and women engaged in home weaving and weaving services provided in client’s homes. (M. Focşa, Scoarţe româneşti, Bucureşti, 1970, p.191)
Given their functional, decorative and social use, wall carpets tend to be among the most valuable of all the various types of Romanian folk textiles. “Having in mind the weather conditions, the interior textiles were needed in the old country houses only heated by kitchen stoves during the winter”. (ICRNY.org)
The natural fibers added more insulation to the wall. They were “leaned over the furniture or at the girder and were some sort of a cultural skin of the house.
Carpets were generally woven on a horizontal loom, in the Kelim technique. The ancient ones could be distributed into 4 formal categories, corresponding to certain areas of Romania:
- The oldest and most outspreaded type of wool weaving is the striped carpet. Deployed horizontally, sometimes the wall carpets become genuine calendars on which the days and the nights of the week are inserted, the good days and the bad days, the working days and the days of fast or celebration. This is why onto these weaved surfaces, parallel stripes of different breadths and colours are rhythmically aligned next to insertions of day or night stars as well as symbols of birth, of death and resurrection (the cross, the tree of life). In the same way the shepherds scratch time lapses on wooden sticks used also as counting tools.
- Another type of design motifs on the ancient romanian carpets is a uniform composition of inscribed lozenges with straight or herring-bone margins. Their origin and meaning seem to be the adoration of the sun, as they are called sunwheels. They are to be found in Maramures and Muntenia.
- In Banat and Maramureş regions, they used to weave wall carpets in panels; on the surface of those they used to represent either geometrical forms or vegetal, zoomorphic or even anthropomorphic motifs. The most wellknown are the Maramures carpets decorated with catane, a chain of hieratic women in an invocating position. In Banat, the carpets are made în a technique mixing the Kelim type with the Karamani way of weaving each form independently.
- In Oltenia and Northern Moldavia, the wall carpets were bigger and woven in the technique of gobelins, on a vertical loom. Conceived as tapestry compositions, running in a vertical direction (Moldavia) or centered inside a multiple frame (Oltenia), those splendid creations are visibly marked – in Moldavia – by ancient French verdures, or – in Oltenia – by an exotic, oriental world.”
Source: (ICRNY.org / Ioana Popescu – Director of Research at the Museum of the Romanian Peasant in Bucharest)
Their social use adds to the reasons that justified their inscription in 2016 on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. “The carpets had additional roles in community practices, such as being part of a bride’s dowry, or being used at funerals where they symbolized a passage for the soul to the hereafter. Certain patterns also indicated where the weaver was from.”
Source: (Unesco.org / Traditional wall-carpet craftsmanship in Romania and the Republic of Moldova)
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