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Old Houses and their Meanings

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Romanian Village Life -Traditional Houses in the Countryside

I have always had a strange feeling about the old houses. It has nothing to do with fear, it is much rather a curiosity and nostalgia. I try to imagine how life was back then, and suddenly that house becomes animated with peasants doing things. Then I wonder if these people ever imagined that their house will be abandoned.

Romanian Village Life
Romanian Village Life / Location: Village of Pârteștii de Sus, Bucovina

The Romanian Traditional Houses – Center of a Peasant’s Universe

The peasant considers his house standing at the core of his existence. Until the beginning of the 20th century, the traditional house was a single-storey structure, built of adobe, or with logs, employing corner joints.

The roof was initially thatched, or covered with spruce shingles (dranita, sindrila).

Read more Shake Roofing – A Trade Preserving The Carpathian Mountains Old Charm

The mountain dwellings have taller roofs, which allow the rain and snow to run off easily.

 Traditional Houses
Traditional Houses in the Romanian Countryside / Location: Village of Straja, Bucovina

A built-in open platform with a bench, called prispa, surrounding the outside walls, is a place to observe and to be observed, marks the crossover between public and private. A cerdac (gang) is a prispa with a balustrade, supported by carved columns, looking like a balcony, built in the facade, or in two or three sides of the house.

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This construction not only offers protection against precipitations, but it is also considered an important place, where important rites in the Romanian village life associated with birth, wedding and death were taking place. On her wedding day, the peasant woman’s dowry was exhibited on prispa. In summer, the family used to sleep here.

Romanian Village Life
Traditional Houses in the Romanian Countryside / Location: Village of Arbore, Bucovina

The small and low windows used to serve for kidnapping the girl whose parents didn’t agree with the relationship.

Read also Exploring 18th Century Inhabited Romanian Traditional House from Bucovina

The Stove (Vatra) – A Central Element of a Traditional House

The stove (vatra) is the central element in a peasant house, where the peasant woman and her daughters were preparing the food.

Here, the peasant woman was giving birth to her first child while sitting on the vatra.  It was considered the most important place of the traditional house.

According to the Romanian traditions, every essential event (birth, wedding, death), had to take place at home, otherwise it was considered atypical.

Read also Earliest Writing Clues on the Romanian Traditional Houses

Traditional Houses
Traditional Houses in the Romanian Countryside / Location: Village of Straja, Bucovina
Romanian Village
Traditional Houses in the Romanian Villages/ Location: Village of Straja, Bucovina
Romanian Villages
Traditional Houses in the Romanian Villages/ Location: Village of Straja, Bucovina
Traditional Houses
Traditional Houses in the Romanian Villages/ Location: Village of Pârteștii de Sus, Bucovina
Traditional Houses
Traditional Houses in the Romanian Villages/ Location: Village of Pârteștii de Sus, Bucovina
Romanian Village
Traditional Houses in the Romanian Villages/ Location: Village of Arbore, Bucovina
Romanian Village Life
Traditional Houses in the Romanian Villages/ Location: Village of Straja, Bucovina
Romanian traditional house
Traditional Houses in the Romanian Villages/ Location: Village of Pârteștii de Sus, Bucovina
Romanian Village Life
Traditional Houses in the Romanian Villages/ Location: Village of Arbore, Bucovina
Romanian Village Life
Traditional Houses in the Romanian Villages/ Location: Village of Arbore, Bucovina
Romanian Villages
Traditional Houses in the Romanian Villages/ Location: Village of Pârteștii de Jos, Bucovina
Romanian Countryside
Traditional Houses in the Romanian Villages/ Location: Village of Pârteștii de Jos, Bucovina
Romanian Countryside
Traditional Houses in the Romanian Villages/ Location: Village of Iaslovăț, Bucovina
Romanian Traditions
Romanian Village Life/ Location: Village of Straja, Bucovina
Romanian Countryside
Traditional Houses in the Romanian Villages/ Location: Village of Straja, Bucovina
Traditional Houses
Traditional Houses in the Romanian Villages/ Location: Village of Straja, Bucovina
Romanian Village
Location: Romanian Village of Straja, Bucovina                    

Sources: Ernest Bernea – The Romanian Village Civilization, Ed. Vremea, Bucuresti, 2006.

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