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The art of wood carving

Wood crafthas been part of the Romanians’ life since ancient times. Even nowadays, many of us possess, among modern kitchen utensils, at least one wooden spoon. It is said that the forest is like a brother to Romanians, and as a proof, it has always provided shelter and wood to keep them warm and supplied everything needed in the household and everyday life.

Once, every peasant possessed basic knowledge of wood crafting and the skills to use it in the household. However, thanks to some gifted wood craftsmen, wood working was raised to the level of art. Such talented craftsmen created wood objects that were as much useful as they were beautiful.Such items have been used ever since in the kitchen (spoons, bowls, forks, holders), in agricultural work (hayforks, rakes, ox carts, wheels), as furniture (wardrobes, beds, dowry chests) etc. There was nothing random in the wood craftsmen’s work, and they were always careful to transform wood in a form of art and thus make amends for the sacrifice of cutting it. All such objects were made completely of wood and decorated with different traditional motifs, bearing special symbolism.

Below are some symbolic elements used in the embellishment of wood, in particular in the Bucovina region:

Shepherd’s lost way– used especially for shepherd staffs, but also for the decoration of Easter eggs; is one of the most commonly used elements for the embellishment of traditional objects, representing thetranshumant life of shepherds.

Wolf fang– employed in particular for decorating the tools used by shepherds in the sheep farms, and for other uses.

Ram horns– play a special role among the folkloric symbols, the ram being also the leader of the sheep herd.

The Sun– with 6, 12, or 24 rays, representing the relation between man and divinity.

Soul bird– represents the next world, being the one that guides the soul into the afterlife.

Horse head– most of the times it is stylized, and used to adorn house corners and furniture as it is believed it has the power to ward off evil spirits.

Seed of life– used mostly for dowry chests.

Flower of life– also used for dowry chests, but for other items as well; it is one of the most widely used motifs in the embellishment of traditional Romanian objects.

The fir tree– known as the cosmic tree.

These symbols, alongside many others, were used for a specific purpose, not merely for decoration, in order to convey a certain message.For example, when boys used to give hayforks to the girls during country dances, they decorated the forks with certain symbols meant to express what they felt, thus creating a personalized gift with a special meaning.

Each type of wood was used to make certain items. For example, dogwood and hazel wood was used for shepherd staffs, because it is a hard and flexible wood, fir wood was used especially for constructions, poplar and willow woodwas used for kitchen tools, being very light. In order to be crafted, the wood was cut during the low-vegetation time of the year, usually after the first hoarfrost and until the end of February. The ideal time for cutting was during full moon.Wood items are usually made from a single piece, in order to make the best use of every part of the tree.

From small objects to houses and churches, wood lies at the foundation of Romanian culture, being used everywhere in the traditional Romanian household and making people’s life not only easier, but more beautiful as well. Even though there are fewer and fewer wood craftsmen, they make efforts to preserve for future generations this traditional art which is an integral part of our history and culture.

On our site, you can find adiverse range of wood itemssuch as: traditional mascots, key chains, pens, jewelry boxes, flutes, jugs, spoons, piggy banks etc.

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