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Keepers of Tradition: Art and Folk Heritage in Neamț County

 

What shapes up a place, a territory, a county?

A first thought would take us to the natural environment, with picturesque landscapes, and then the history, culture and ethnographic particularities of the places, well preserved and passed down from generation to generation. All of that define and identify a certain region and the main values of the community living within its borders.

Folk art in Neamţ area is born from people’s ability to perceive and appreciate cultural and natural values and acts as an emissary of Neamț Land for those eager to discover its amazing customs and traditions. Maintaining a conservative character, by means of rules and canons kept in community awareness, the villagers have passed on down the generations the encoded and extremely rich language of folk art. The simple shapes and the balanced proportions, the sensible layout and decorations, the geometrical style of representations, the discrete and harmonious colours always impress the beholder.

Whether we are talking about loom-made traditional fabrics, beautiful wooden sculptures, folk costumes with amazing embroidery of local motifs, or the famous folk New Year’s masks for dancers, folk craftsmen in Neamț County keep on perpetuating the traditional folk art in the most diverse artistic forms and styles.

Handmade products cover a wide variety of thematic areas: ceramics, wood and furniture, domestic industry, soft goods and traditional costumes, leather works, glazed eggs, icons and naive painting, braids, folk masks, ornaments, traditional foods, bone objects, glassware, and even dolls and other toys. They can be made both of natural and other materials, such as metal, plastic or rubber. No matter the case, all of them reveal the peasants’ outlook and sensitivity, their sense of beauty and their artistic refinement.

Today, many traditional artisans seek to innovate and adapt their products so that they meet the demands and artistic taste of contemporary consumers. Even if some of the handmade objects display new forms of presentation, the decorating and embellishments techniques have mainly remained the same as used in times long gone, expressing the red thread of local artistic philosophy.

The ethnography museums, through their permanent exhibitions, depict the history of the places in Neamț County, outlining the particularities of the domestic universe of people of this land, who went before us. The folk craftsmen from Neamț aim both at reviving the old crafts and the Romanian folk art, as well as at continuing these crafts and passing them from generation to generation, brings to the surface the most preciously treasure of a unique cultural heritage.

Collections of folk art of great value are displayed and can be admired in several ethnography museums around the county: the Ethnography Museum in Piatra Neamţ, the History and Ethnography Museum in Târgu-Neamţ, “Neculai Popa” Ethnography Museum in Târpeşti and “Vasile Găman” Ethnography Museum in Vânători-Neamţ.

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