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  • Strada Gheorghe Şincai nr. 46, la parterul Palatului Administrativ, camera 20, Baia Mare.
  • tel. +40 262.206.113 | fax +40 262.206.114
  • office@visitmaramures.ro

Traditions and crafts

Rada Pavel - Festival Budesti

The Mara-Cosău community, as with the historical Maramureș in general, has always been a traditional, self-sustaining society, where the local people knew how to adapt to their living conditions, to cleverly use their local resources and to produce everything they needed for a decent living; this is how customs, traditions and occupations developed and became part of the community’s cultural identity; these however started to fade away due to the industrialisation, village modernisation processes and the urbanisation phenomenon. The locals who still practice their craft can be characterized as survivors, and the youngsters who stayed in the village and are interested in carrying on the traditions – the brave.

The crafts involving wood processing developed and diversified along the years and are characteristic to men. Carpentry, coopery and the making and assembling of shingles are all crafts and professional occupations which emerged due to the presence of the vast and legendary surrounding forests, and which were passed through generations, being learned at home or in apprenticeship. Carpentry refers to the processing of wood for constructions and decorations, coopery refers to creating various objects for use around the house such as barrels or buckets. The shingle masters, who are scarce today, make the shingled roofs – from pieces of fir wood, of different shapes (square, pointed or round). It is said that every village used to have its carpenters, coopers and shingle masters, so as to answer to villagers’ requests; apparently Sarbi village had the biggest number of craftsmen in the area.

The tailors in every village were also working to order and the most skilful of them received requests from other villages too. In historical Maramureș, as opposed to the situation in cities, tailoring was more likely to be practiced by men; they sew the various parts of traditional costumes (sheepskin coats, vests, wool jackets, traditional trousers) and apply the adornments, a very meticulous job which needs a lot of patience and know-how. The busiest times of the year for tailors are before holidays – Easter, Christmas and New Year.

Women too have an important part in the world of crafts in this area, being taught from childhood by their mothers and grandmothers to spin wool and knit. They are responsible for making shirts for the men, which at first were made of hemp and afterwards of cotton and linen. Hemp processing for clothing started in autumn, after harvesting, and ended in the spring when tradition says that women were supposed to have two shirts ready for every man in the house; in the spring, after the shearing, they started the manufacturing of wool clothing for the cold season, but also of soft furnishings and accessories such as traditional rugs, carpets, bags or wool socks. For women, the clumsiness in fulfilling these activities was a disgrace and a flaw and they were subjected to mockery in the village. Also, all the operations that they had to carry out in order to complete the clothes and other home items were marked by different rituals, unwritten rules or religious beliefs that were supposed to cast away evil spirits and to bring good luck.

The main parts of the traditional costume are the shirt, the traditional vest (white for the elderly, black or bicoloured for the young), the traditional hat for men and head shawl for women, traditional trousers for men and traditional skirts for women, and last but not least the traditional footwear (opinci) made of bovine leather or rubber.

Go to Activities, for recommendations of craftsmen who can be visited in Mara-Cosău-Creasta Cocoșului.

by flavius frantz | eeessential.tools