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Exhibition opening ,,Between "that" house and "that" world"


Astra Museum





Exhibition opening ,,Between "that" house and "that" world"

Location: Open-Air museum, Household illustrating the process of fulling clothes from Săpânța
Date: Friday, July 14, 2023, 1 p.m.
The programme includes workshops on weaving, warping, spinning, woodworking and gastronomy
Hosts: the "Săpânțana" ensemble
Good hosts: Irina a lu' Todiuț, Anuța a lu' Bărzun and Maria a lu' Toaderu Iepanului

ASTRA Museum, an institution whose actions are made possible by funding from Sibiu County Council, is organizing on Friday, July 14, 2023, starting at 1 p.m., the opening of the exhibition "Between "that" house and "that" world". The event will be held in and around the Household from Săpânța and will include workshops on weaving, warping, spinning, woodworking and traditional gastronomy. The community of Săpânța will be represented byIrina a lu' Todiuț, Anuța a lu' Bărzun and Maria a lu' Toaderu Iepanului, who will assume the role of host and will present the local costumes, crafts, gastronomy and traditions. The exhibition is organised in collaboration with the Museum of Maramures, following field research carried out by a team with representatives from both museums.

"Săpânța is one of the most famous villages in Romania, mainly due to the Merry Cemetery, which attracts a huge number of visitors every year. Tourism has developed the area to such an extent that people speak of its founder, the craftsman Stan Ioan Pătraș, as a benefactor who changed the destiny of the community. The name comes from the messages on the crosses, which sum up the life of the deceased in a funny way, bringing a detached, courageous, serene perspective. The lyrics are complemented by naïve drawings, the colour of the crosses being dominated by blue, which the members of the community have taken on for good, proudly calling it "the blue of Săpânța". In the drawings and verses on the crosses there are crafts, traditional costumes, landscape segments, legends, vices, household objects, tools and many other elements that outline quite faithfully the history of the place and the people. Săpânța is a legendary place, where people have often considered themselves part of a special country. The community had to remain united and anyone who took a girl "from the villages" (from elsewhere) was worthy of contempt. Hard-working people built durable houses of wood with stone foundations, both of which were readily available in the immediate vicinity. Stone was plentiful on the river as well as in the rock, and the woods stretched as far as the eye could see, criss-crossed by a maze of roads and paths, where you could easily get lost, especially if you were tired or had your mind clouded by a few glasses of palinka. The water of Săpânței gathers three main springs, called, in turn, Trei Săpinți. The natural landscape is extremely rich, with meadows, pastures, hills, mountain ridges, orchards and forests. The Șipot waterfall and the Falcon's Rock stand out, but many other places are equally charming. From the forest, people brought wood for building houses, monumental gates, fences, furniture and firewood. At Săpânța, people used to greet each other - and some still do - with "Praise Jesus!", the answer being "Amen!". They wore clothes chosen on feast days and respected their traditional values. They believed that it was wrong to work on Tuesdays, with a mythological character called the Marzola punishing women in particular who broke this rule, waking up with a bundle of spindles and having to spin wool until the next morning. Those who were late at night on dark roads could be lured by the Forest Fairy or caught and killed by the Borsocks. In privileged situations they were rescued by the fairies or made well by the witches, who could be both witch and healer. The mythological characters are still present in the memory of the place, and some locals still hope to find a secret place of seductive beauty: the Forest Girl's Garden. Very skilled in weaving and sewing, the bores (women) of Săpânța used to display their beads, lackeys and halubes (clothes) on the pălant (fence) to sell them to passers-by, but they also went with them to fairs in distant towns. The hinds were woven in slivers (coloured lines), and the halberds have specific patterns, with motifs handed down from generation to generation. Textiles were spun, and many installations were made along the riverbed over the years. Some are still in use today. Wool was produced in the community, but also purchased several decades ago from the Sibiului Mountains," said Ancuța Ilie, head of the Exhibitions-workshop. Cultural mediation Department, ASTRA Museum

"The houses in Săpânța had two or three rooms and an open porch. If there were only two rooms, the living room was simply called a "house". A second room, called "ceie casa", displayed the family's wealth, the relatives' wreaths, painted bedsteads, the bed with high cushions, elegant hangers, and beautifully ornamented furniture. During the communist period, the people of  Săpânțatravelled at home and abroad, from where they brought back brightly coloured metal pots, trinkets, plates and other objects that caught the eye with their shapes, ornamentation or mixture of colours. The walls of "That" house are painted with floral or geometric motifs, the mix of colours in the last half-century bringing a consistent touch of kitsch without losing the deep meaning of the space. Two houses from Săpânța were transferred to the ASTRA Museum. The house of the Meșteroaia (witch doctor) is symbolically located in the forest, preserving the aura of mystery of the powerful women healers, connoisseurs of the secret powers of nature, about whom impressive stories are told, such as that they picked up and threw stones without touching them, if necessary to defend the village. The witch doctors knew how to cast spells, which is why locals often shy away from talking about them. The second house, transferred with the whole household, shows the craft of fulling clothes, and is part of the textile fibre processing sector. The exhibition integrates the diverse facets of Săpânța, telling a story with many threads, tracing the complicated evolution of the community. A functional whirlpool allows for demonstrations of rinsing bed covers and clothing objects, replicas of the crosses in the Merry Cemetery are an opportunity to meditate on the deeper meanings of this phenomenon, looms and warps, and woodworking tools are on hand for visitors to experience sequences of village life. The most precious things are kept in each house, and at the mouth of the stove there might be a lot of spindles brought by Marțolea, in case one of the locals worked when she shouldn't have. The exhibition circuit brings to the public's attention both the industriousness and creativity of the people and their legends, illusions and foibles. Illustrative footage from field research will be integrated into an ad hoc cinema set up in the former stable, while the shed will allow for activities with craftsmen. The exhibition integrates the courtyard, the adjoining garden, and a pathway laid out among the maple trees along the creek that runs along the Fulling mills Pathway.  Each house illustrates the hard work and pride of the inhabitants, the rich dowry of the marriageable girls, the beauty of ornaments and colours, creativity, joy and stability. This world is not only the Merry Cemetery, but also the legendary world beyond, from which the legendary characters often return, frightened or, on the contrary, stronger and braver than ever", said Ovidiu Baron, deputy director general of ASTRA Museum. 

The event is part of the "Secret Memory of Objects" programme , through which ASTRA Museum assumes the role of mediator between the local community and the public, between older and younger generations, between the social, political and cultural environment, between nature and man. It is the first cultural mediation programme in Romanian museums, started last year, on the occasion of the exhibition "The Sun on the Plate".

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