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“Altița ulițelor din Borlești”, a bridge between generations for local traditions

29 November 2023 No Comment

“Altița ulițelor din Borlești”, an ambitious project in Neamț County, highlights the aesthetic, identity, and cultural value of intangible cultural heritage represented by the Romanian traditional embroidered blouse (altiță blouse), while also speaking to the power of a united community in promoting traditions through the utilization of skills, creativity and education of locals regarding cultural richness, with a focus on involving and integrating young people in activities.

More specifically, the ten years of activity of the Borlești Sitting (Șezătoarea Borlești) community and the fruitful collaboration with the Sustainable Village Association (Asociația Satul Sustenabil) (Sustainable Village, North East Region, Moldova) have led to the realization of the cultural project “Altița ulițelor din Borlești”, implemented from July to November 2023 and co-financed by the National Cultural Fund Administration.

The success of the project marks a first for Neamț County, with the commune of Borlești taking on the community inventorying of intangible cultural heritage represented by the altiță blouse.

The project activities included three cultural community workshops, with over 70 participants from the commune and nearby localities eager to learn about identifying and documenting altiță blouses, creating the album of altiță blouse “Cufărul Borleștiului”, a glass photography exhibition “Ambrotipie în Șezătoare”, and a film initiated by moutionARThoughts that documents the entire project journey.

Three aspects ensured the success of the cultural project: community, innovation, and continuity in the transmission of intangible cultural heritage, which made all four mentioned outcomes possible. The album, which inventories the altiță blouses and the traditional Romanian embroideries sewn by past and present generations, contains a selection of 31 traditional embroidery patterns and 46 altiță blouses, documented in digital format through overall and detail photographs, as well as vector representation. This is also the first album of its kind in rural communities in Romania. Each altiță blouse has a description sheet created by the Borlești and nearby community, trained by specialists in ethnography. Additionally, the blouses sewn by members of Șezătoarea Borlești in the past 10 years of activity are also photographed and documented. Each blouse is accompanied by the intrinsic motivation of the seamstress, the sewing and cutting techniques used, and the level of identity and group belonging felt through participation in the activity.

The glass photography exhibition “Ambrotipie în Șezătoare” is an anniversary celebration of the 10 years of Șezătoarea Borlești and brings together the presentation of 26 blouses sewn by members of the mentioned cultural community group.

The project film, which describes the steps taken, can be watched in fragments on the website of the Sustainable Village Association, the Cultural Management Authority on a local level, satsustenabil.ro, where the directions, results, and products of the cultural project “Altița ulițelor din Borlești” can be consulted in detail.

The favorable context for implementing the project was based on two factors: the inclusion of the altiță blouse/ traditionl embroidered Romanian women blouse (cămașa cu altiță) in the UNESCO heritage starting in 2022 and the continuation of the activities undertaken by the “Șezătoare Borlești” community since 2013, through the materialization of accumulated experiences.

According to the Ministry of Culture in Romania, the role of the “cămașa cu altiță” represents, “in the past, the transmission of information about: the skill and talent of the woman who works, the material condition and social position of the wearer, civil status and age, ceremonial status (bride’s blouse, mother-in-law’s blouse, mourning blouse, “deochi” blouse, etc.). Today, it has mainly aesthetic, identity, and cultural value.”

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