94 Years Old Romanian Furrier Is Still Hard at Work
At the age of 94, Romanian furrier Davidean Traian is still hard at work. Strong and sturdy once, now wizened and gray, the old furrier tells us the story of his involvement in coat making.
“In 1939 I finished school and I took lessons in furriery. My master was a harsh man. He didn’t talk too much. Since 1942 I’ve had my own furriery. I have instructed eight children from our commune. Whoever had a skill in furriery would serve his apprenticeship for one year without work documents. One year was enough to learn the trade. „Go home and work for yourself, not for me.” So I did with all of them.”
He works four hours a day in his house from Frătăuții Noi, Suceava County. The little chamber is furnished with an old bed and a buffet on the far wall, a table in front of the window and the gas cooker nearby. A sheepskin vest hung up on a shabby peg rack, new, unfinished vests and several hides scattered on the table and closest of all, the old furrier himself bent over his work in front of a little window barely admitting light.
“This is a hairless leather for patches, sheepskin or calfskin”, he says while unrolling and stretching a piece of hide, white and soft. “The floral design is manually drawn and sewn onto it. There are women who do the embroidery work for extra cash”, he continues. “The customer brings the skins, the embroidered patches. With five skins I make a vest. I tailor it and sew the parts onto it. First I sew the astrakhan border, then the patches. It takes ten days to complete one. In ten days, the customer can try it on.”
He sits up, grabbing a coat by the hood. It is a type of fur lined beaded and embroidered sheepskin jacket, known as cojoc. “I made this jacket 40 years back. It needs a little restoration. First I sew the top and bottom and add the astrakhan fur to borders and sleeves. Then I sew the patches.” He doesn’t need any glasses, neither to sew, nor to put thread in the needle. He starts sewing the astrakhan border, replacing the old one, damaged by moths. Such clothes are as immensely valuable as they pertain to the national cultural heritage. They are becoming increasingly rare.
At his invitation, we continue visiting the house, where he displayed cherished pictures, medals and diplomas.
Among them, a picture where he is being decorated by Romanian president Klaus Iohannis with The Medal of Cultural Merit for the honorific title of Living Human Treasure, conferred by The National Commission on Culture for safeguarding and promoting cultural heritage.
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