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Romanian Countryside Steeped in Tradition: Shepherd Tends Sheepfold the Ancient Way

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Romanian Countryside Steeped in Tradition: An Ancient Way of Calling the Flock of Sheep
Romanian Countryside

No one knows the ancient songs of the trumpet better than a shepherd. Born in 1951, in a sheep-raising farm, Galeș Simion becomes shepherd of the sheep. He tells the story of the trumpet as he lives it, as an extension of himself.

Romanian Sheepfold

“A sheepfold without a trumpet is like a garden without flowers”, he says.

Tin Trumpet

The trumpet is a long flared tube, up to 5 ft (150 cm), shaped in a primary oblong loop without valves. It is usually made of tin, brass or stainless steel, with a wooden mouthpiece.

Brass Trumpet

This wind instrument was used for giving war signals at a distance and for musical purpose. In Romanian countryside, the rituals related to this musical instrument have been passed down from generation to generation, since archaic times, when shepherding was the main occupation.

The Shepherds’ Trumpet Widely Used in Transhumance

Rural Romania

The movement between higher pastures in spring and lower valleys in autumn has been retained all along. These mountain people were not being aware of time or calendars, but rather guided by the stars and seasons. Wandering in the wilderness, burnt by the sun and wind, filled with longing, they would often sing about it, playing pipes and trumpets. The anonymous folk ballads were composed this way.

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When leading the livestock to the mountains, the shepherd was walking in front of the flock and blowing his trumpet. Behind him, the sheep and the guarding dogs walking on the sides. They were trained to protect the sheep from anything.

Up there, the trumpet was used for giving long distance signals. A short time after the sun was descending from its zenith in the sky, the trumpet was calling the flock back for milking. Then again in the evening, before sunset. In the foggy evenings, one was guided through the forests by the sound of his fellow shepherd’ trumpet.

Without approvals and itinerary, since 2008, the transhumance is forbidden in Romania. The alignment of our country’s legislation to the EU led to the disappearance of a millennial lifestyle.

Read also Traditional Cheese Making at Romanian Sheepfold

In the Romanian Countryside Trumpet is Played at Funeral Procession

Shepherd

Life in rural Romania hasn’t changed much. By tradition, to announce a death in the community the trumpeter plays his trumpet every evening inside the house of the deceased. On the day of the burial, if the dead was wealthy, up to three trumpets will escort the funeral procession to the church and grave, singing a sad song at times.

Read Also Shepherd Hand Milking Sheep in a Rustic Sheepfold

For his service, the trumpeter will receive one sheep as a payment.

This custom has been and will be kept alive in the region of Bucovina, it will not be lost. It represents the trumpet of the last Judgement in the Apocalypse.

Other than that, the trumpet is used during ceremonies, inauguration of monasteries and school opening.

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