Monday, July 20, 2009

The Craftsmen Fairs—Bringing to Life Romania’s Traditions

By Mihut Savu & Lavinia Savu
Epoch Times Staff

Through a series of events taking place across Romania, the Craftsmen Fairs offer an opportunity for local and tourists to explore the beauty of Romanian traditions from different parts of the country, and for genuine traditional artists to express and sell their original creations.

Trying to keep alive the old customs, the fairs are held periodically in most cities in Romania, and most of these craftsmen attend them on a regular basis, while some of them were invited to go abroad to display their creations.The most recent fair was held in the city of Galati in the first days of July. Besides the display and the selling of handmade items, local organizers of the fairs make merry with folk music and dance.

The craftsmen do their work out of passion and out of commitment to the old ways.“The satisfaction that results from our work is primarily moral in nature; each item we make is handmade, each is unique,” says the potter Simon Stoica, who hails from the city of Chisinau in the nearby Republic Moldavia. He presented his products, souvenirs made from red clay such as bottles, key rings, bells or decorative wall panels.The creation of clay objects, as he describes it, is one that requires much dedication and patience: they are spun on the potter’s wheel, decoration is applied, then left to dry for one week, painted and baked in the oven at a temperature of 1000 degrees Celsius.

For medium-sized objects the whole process takes a whole month and the smaller ones can be completed in up to two weeks. “We are three craftsmen, each one having his own unique style, but our common aim is to promote traditional cultural values and keep alive the things that were used in the old days,” adds Stoica.

Ionelia Stoica is a painter that specializes in native painting featuring themes inspired by Romanian rural life. She does this kind of painting not only on canvas but also on clay pots and braids of rushes. Her greatest joy is that of creating beautiful objects with her own hands that are admired and appreciated by others.

What these craftsmen all have in common is the revival of the spirit of the traditions, and the way they feel about their work: they take work to be an opportunity for relaxation, and more than that, it is a spiritual experience.Simon Stoica's pottery (Epoch Times Staff)Adam Curta, icon painter from Cluj-Napoca confesses, “My work brings me enormous satisfaction and peace in my soul, it also has the effect of relieving fatigue.” He and his wife, both teachers, have set up in their school a glass-painting coterie that is both helping to keep the traditions alive and being a form of what he calls “art-therapy.”

Adam particularly stands out among the other craftsmen as he is dressed from head to toe in a traditional costume, with not a single piece of modern clothing on him.As a specialized glass-icon painter, he has a genuine approach to painting, different from other artists. While the latter made icons as already aged, imitating patina using certain techniques and colors, Adam leaves time itself to work its ways and he paints the icons as they should be: clean, using fresh and vivid colors, without tricks designed give customers the illusion that they have bought a hundreds-year-old icon.

This authenticity of his style conquered the hearts of foreigners—Adam showcased his creations in exhibitions in France, Italy, Poland, Israel, and Belgium.Folk masks, traditional costumes, dolls, icons, paintings, bells, pottery made of black and red clay, wooden spoons and more such things are available at the fairs, all made with the purpose of bringing a cramp of authentic tradition in our often dull contemporary modern homes.

Events like Craftsmen Fair are helping maintain authentic local identity and traditions in the era of technology and globalization. As we rediscover and return to the traditional arts, we have the opportunity to see the true beauty around us and in the hearts of those around us.

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