Romanian craftsmanship

Whenever you go abroad you want to come back with a little souvenir from the country you visited. And you go for those objects that remind you best of the places you’ve seen and admired. Romania is best defined by its craftsmanship; and you can find such hand-made objects virtually everywhere. Indeed, Romanian craftsmanship is representative of our folklore, traditions and legends as the artisan is occupied not only with giving an interesting form to some piece of wood or pottery but also with making that object say its own unique story and in its own unique manner.

Long, long ago …

A beautiful Romanian legend compares the primordial act of the Making of Man with the molding of a clay pot. They say that the potter stole the secret of pottery from God who created Adam by molding the soft clay to make it look exactly like him. As the potter couldn’t give his piece of earth a soul as well, as did God, he decided to subject it to the power of fire so that its heat would give the object strength and a pure voice. The relationship of man to clay dates back to prehistoric times, the ceramics being solid proof of the refined Neolithic civilization whose peak was the brilliant painted ceramics of Cucuteni. Throughout the centuries, the Romanian artisans have developed their own style of shaping and decorating pottery. Either red or black, Romanian ceramics is beautifully decorated with various and colorful motifs, geometrical shapes or natural elements.

Carving a story into wood

As with the clay, people have felt the need to make their sculpted wooden objects feel “alive”. How could they achieve such a goal? Well, they would make their creations speak through symbols and legendary motifs. If you ever have the chance of seeing sculpted wooden spoons, for example, you should know that each has its own story to tell. The spoon of lovers is usually represented by two birds because the Romanian god of love, Dragobete, was known as the birds’ fiancé. The spoon of power is symbolized by a snake as the latter was formerly known as the spirit defending the house. Some spoons have the head of a wolf and the body of a snake which is similar to the traditional Dacian flag (the Dacians were the ancient people that lived on the territory of Romania). The spoon of luck is best represented by a stork; they say that when a stork builds its nest on a specific house, then that house is protected against fire, thieves and flood.

As we all know, art is sometimes born out of the most common things. People have had to use all sorts of raw materials to make objects for their daily needs. However, their creativity often played an important role in this activity which is why there are so many items of Romanian craftsmanship to choose from.

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