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For lovers of the arts and crafts, Romania is a fascinating travel destination that’s brimming with creativity. Busy cities like Bucharest showcase a diverse range of fine artists that the country has produced, including the 20th century sculptor Constantin Brancusi.
Yet the overwhelming majority of art throughout Romania isn’t found in the galleries and museums, but rather in the market stalls and homes of the Romanian peasants. Here’s a look at some of the iconic everyday creations to keep an eye out for on your artistic tour of Romania.
One of the most recognisable items in Romanian arts and crafts is the iconic painted egg. Particularly popular around Easter, these hollowed-out eggs are transformed into miniature works of art to celebrate the festival of renewal.
Like many of the creative works produced by Romania’s huge peasant communities, the eggs are a symbol of everyday life and interaction, with women and children gathering in a local home to spend the day chatting and painting.
The intricate patterns are thought to have once expressed the secret languages of the regions and today the miniature works of art are still available in the popular markets and street stalls.
The beautiful pottery pieces produced in Romania are predominantly still made on the old-fashioned kick-wheels that have been used for centuries. The different ceramic works of art created across the country also reflect the distinctive artistic flavour of the different regions. The diverse work produced includes interesting geometric creations, animals, people and delicate flowers.
For lovers of pottery some regions of Romania are better suited than others with Horezu, Miercurea-Ciuc and Corund all great examples.
For any travellers with an interest in woodwork creations, the Maramures region is the place to go. Here the homes feature detailed and elaborate sculptured wooden trims, gates and fences.
The “Merry Cemetery” is another place worth of a visit, featuring a range of intricate and hand-made sculptures. The various creations are used to convey the fascinating myths and legends of the local area through items like trees of life, twisted rope and constellations.
Romanian rugs offer a fascinating insight into the unique creative style of each distinctive region. Just as every area boasts its own historic relics, castles and attractions, they are also are also home to their distinctive style of rug.
Many take influence from the Ottoman Empire of centuries gone by, featuring the flat-weave kilim style with a mix of traditional vegetable dyed yarns. Head to the Oltenia region and you’ll find rugs displaying the beautiful native fauna and flora, often featuring birds and flowers. Moldavia tends to use branches to represent the tree of life, while Maramures utilise geometric shapes drawing influence from the nearby Turkey Mountains.
Masks are another style of artwork that can be found on every market corner and reflect the fascinating heritage of Romanian theatre and folk festivals. Most commonly found in Moldavia and Maramures, the masks are created from traditional sheep and cow hides and are decorated using pompoms, feathers, fabric and animal horns.
Keep an eye out over December and early January as they are most commonly worn during the New Year’s celebrations.
While glass-art dates back to the Roman Empire, it is currently undergoing a revival as a more cosmopolitan art style with Romanian artists famed across the world. Head to the northeast to Botosani to find beautiful hand crafted glass-work.