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Moldavian Gastronomy

Musical folklore | Choreographic folklore| The folk costume in Neamt county | Masks |
Trades in Neamt county | Traders | Etno-Folk Centre in Neamt county

Neamt County inscribes in the central Moldavian area, having in North the influence of Bucovina area, influence felt in the old songs belonging to the shepherds’ repertory and in West receives the influence of Ardeal area, having Bicaz Valley as crossing area.
Taking into account the geographical layout of Neamt county as well the historic conditions in which the Romanian people lived, one can distinguish three folk areas, with no rigid borders.
The first and the largest one is the area of Bistrita Valley which starts from Borca and reaches Costisa. It includes two parts, the first situated on Bicaz Valley and the second on Tazlau Valley. The repertory of songs that exist in this area has three distinct aspects:
a) shepherds' songs, sung especially on folk instruments (little whistle, long shepherd’s pipe, violin, kobsa, Alp horn).
b) lyrical vocal songs which resembles with the first category.
c) play songs which are varied, too, by their form; the most frequent ones are: Coragheasca, Hangul, Hora, De-nvartit, Triliseste, Batuta, Braul .
The second area extends on Ozana Valley, in the place guarded by Neamt Fortress where we meet influences from the Northern Moldavia (Bucovina). There exists, too, a reach and varied repertory of songs, beginning with the shepherds' ones, doina (melancholy Romanian folk-song), ballads, and finishing with play songs. In this area there can be found: The Outlaws' Doina, The Round, The Little Shepherd, Coragheasca, Sarba, Ruseasca, Batuta, Nemtisorul, etc.
The third area is met on Siret Valley. The changes and the fluctuation of the people were greater in this area by the arrival of "ceangai" (a population that emigrated from Transilvania to Moldavia, who speak Romanian and Hungarian). But their influence did not alter the folklore in the area; the songs and the dances from this part of the county are settled and there is a varied and rich repertory in which the unity of the musical speech is better felt, the differences are not essential. The most frequent songs and play melodies are: Arcanul, Triliseste, Coragheasca, Ruseasca, Zdrelea's Sarba, Batuta, Hora pe batai .

In order to characterize the folk dance in Neamt county, we should present the area first. Neamt county is a part from Moldavia centre folk sub-area. It has as neighbours in North - Bucovina, in West - Ardeal and it is under the influence of these ethno-folk areas. The round from Neamt county as a main characteristic - diversity. So, from a village to another, the round is different in rhythm or choreographic design.
In some villages, the influences of the neighboured folk areas are fully felt. So, on Bistrita Valley the songs for "hora" (round) have a strong influence from Ardeal. As examples: "De-nvartit" ("For turning"), "For leading") in Bicaz Chei or "Purtata fetelor" ("Girls' Carrying") in Damuc.
After their way of developing, the rounds are classified in rounds for groups and for pairs. In the first category there are included: Nemtisorul, played in Pipirig, Bargaoani, Garcina, Coragheasca which is a dance with a large spreading, Hora ("The Round") - met on the whole area of the county: Hora pe batai (Botesti), Hora fetelor ("Girls' Round" - in Damuc), Hora in doua parti ("Round in two parts" - in Garcina), Hora schimbata ("Changed Round" - in Borca), Sarba (a lively folk dance), Ruseasca, Baitaneasca, etc. Kept from one generation to another, transmitted from grandparents to grandchildren, the folk rounds still accompany the most important moments in the life of the villages, in this area. More often, they are accompanied by epigrams, which give a partiwithlar charm to the round.
Another category is the one of the rounds that takes place on the occasion of winter holidays. Here is the country of the following rounds: The Goat, The Bear, The Little Horses, The Masked . Played by children, by young or old people at the brink of the years, these rounds are over than 2000 years.


The folk costume in Neamt county The folk costume in Neamt county, the female and the male as well, although, it is the same with the one in Moldavia, presents some characteristics determined by the geographic and historic conditions specific to this area.
The folk costume in Neamt county keeps ancient elements of the Romanian costume, as, for example, the Dacian shirt, wrinkled at the neck.
- shirt (wrinkled at the neck)
- hems
- catrinta (a piece of the costume that serves as skirt or apron and consists in a rectangular piece of cloth often ornamented)
- barneata (a narrow and long belt)
- bundita (fur coat without sleeves)
The shirt , richly ornamented with geometrical, floral, zoological motifs, was worked on the linen woven in the house. This old type of shirt can be found on Traian Column. The ornaments were done with wool or "arnici", in one, two or more colors, according to the area.
The hems ornamented only down, respect the same model with the shirt. Apart from the costume used at work, in the ordinary days, which is more sober and less ornamented, the costume for holiday is richly ornamented and has a great number of colors.
"Catrinta" is the piece that dresses over the hems and covers the body from down the belt. Woven in the house, in 4 or 2 threads from wool, with silk, golden or silver threads (the costumes for holiday), catrinta is met all over Neamt county. Its place is taken, in some villages from the plain, by "pesteman" (in Trifesti commune) or crinkled skirt (which we find in localities as Trifesti or Ion Creanga).
Over the belt, women wear "barneata", woven in four threads, in colors assorted with the ones used for catrinta. In some villages, women used to girdle with a belt, under the catrinta.
As all the peasant women in Romania, the women from Neamt area used to cover their head only after the wedding (marriage ceremony), the young girls walking with the head uncovered. Specific for Neamt area is "casanca", a black or adorned headdress. In some villages there was also "bariz" (an adorned headkerchief). In the Extra Carpathian area, there was also worn the headkerchief in the corners, ornamented with beads and lace. In the old times women covered their heads with towels. This kind of cover is worn only by the old women.
As concerns the footwear, till the middle of last century, women and men also wore peasant sandals. These were made by pig or cattle leather and were worn over "obiele" or over "coltuni" (knitted wool socks).
THE MALE COSTUME is similar to the one in the whole Moldavia, a few chromatic or decorative motif distinctions.
The costume consists in:
- fur cap
- shirt
- skirt
- fur coat without sleeves
- "chimir" (belt)
- itari (long, narrow trousers made by cotton )
In Neamt area there exist three kinds of male skirts:
- shirt for old age
- shirt with skirt
- shirt with long collar
The shirt for old age is seldom worn, in some villages it totally disappeared.
The shirt with skirt is compounded from two pieces – the shirt and the crinkled skirt.
The embroidery was made with "arnici" and silk, with geometrical, vegetal and zoological motifs, in one or more colors.
The ornament was less rich than the female shirt, being made on the collar, on the shoulder, at the end of the sleeves. The same model appears at the end of the skirt.
The belt - woven in two or four threads, girdle the waist of the man over the shirt. The richest men wore "chimir" - a belt made by leather and ornamented with knitted leather bands, and in some cases with beads.
"Itarii" ("cioarecii") - are trousers, old from the Dacian times. Made in the house from a special, white cloth, they had a length bigger than the leg, so that, when they were dressed, they wrinkled on the foot.
" Opincile" - made by pig leather, gave their place, in time, to the boots.
"Bundita" - is the common piece of clothe, worn by both women and men. It was worked on fine lamp leather, and it is a fur-coat, no sleeves, richly ornamented with geometrical and vegetal (floral) motifs. In Neamt there are two types of "bundite": the short one, met often on The Mountain Valley and in Pipirig area and the long one, met in villages as Tazlau and Ghindaoani. The main characteristic of this piece is the number of chromatic elements.
During winters, in Neamt area, as in others parts of Moldavia, the peasant used to wear "sumane" - coats of thick homespun cloth - among which the most famous were worn in holidays, named "sumane" with "sarad".
"Saradul" was embroidery made with fine wool threads, and was richer according to the person that wore it. Another characteristic of this piece of cloth, and not only this, is the witht of it. The gussets of it gave the name of "suman" with gussets or "suman" with folds.
Another piece of cloth is "spenterul" a short fur-coat, with sleeves, made by leather, ornamented with floral motifs.
Besides the mentioned traditional clothes, there are two pieces worn as accessory: the headkerchief and the sack.
The headkerchief is worn at holidays and at special occasions (weddings and funerals), made by linen and adorned with various motifs, made during the weaving or after it, by sewing.
The headkerchiefs could be worn by all the people: young and old, women and men. These pieces of the costumes were offered as gifts or given "alms" to the participants at special events in village life (engagements, weddings, funerals, etc.).
The sack - is a part of the costume, which, as a distinction, is often worn nowadays. Woven in 4 threads, the sack met in Neamt area is the same as the ones met in Moldavia.
We meet the "checkered" and the "striped" sack. The prevalent colors are white and black but nowadays the Romanians appeal seldom to the folk costume. Used by the old people in the holidays the folk costume has become a rare thing. These phenomena appeared as a result of "the civilizations" process of the Romanian village, that brought not only the giving up its wearing but also its manufacturing. Taking into account all these there exist trade centres in which folk costumes are made, at order. The most known centres in the county are in Pipirig, Targul-Neamt, Borca and Bicazul-Ardelean.

With all the differences of ornaments from one village to another, the costume in Neamt county is the same as the one in Moldavia; it appears as an ethno-withltural unity, transcribed from the old times, the Dacian age.
From the old times till now the folk costume suffered transformations imposed by the progress of the society, and tied of the fabrics used to make it. That is why, the linen made in the house was replaced by "the ret linen" made in factories. Also there was a renunciation to wear "sumane" and fur-coats, being replaced with the clothes manufactured in factories, and "opincile" were replaced with shoes, boots or high boots.
Taking into account all these, the folk costume kept its beauty, authenticity and refinement. The tourists who visit our country are very impressed by the folk costume. The art of the hand work remains unequalled, the Romanian women being recognized for their gift in ornament the pieces of the costume and the house: "The poverty of the little houses is animated by the richness of the woven things… You cannot enter such a house, without respect for the energy of such women who work hard on the fields, are careful mothers with their children, wave most of the clothes of their own and still have time to make this house industry flourish" ("The Moldavian Folk Costume" - Emilia Pavel)
We can really talk about a house industry when we refer to the manufacture of folk costume pieces.
All the stages in making a folk costume took part in the house. The spinning, the warping, the twisting, the weaving, the painting, the sewing were made with the hand, with tools ore or less developed. The techniques used in ornamented the shirts and the fur-coats are remarkable. The embroideries characterize by a special refinement. The most used sewing techniques are the "little cross", “behind the needle", technique used in realidayng "the front and the back chickens".
After the Second World War, there were used the beads, in ornamented the shirts, especially the ones for holiday.
The motifs used in ornamented the folk costume are various: geometrical, zoological, cosmic and even the one that represent people. Among the most used one there are: "the flower", "the bud", "the grape", "the vine leaf", "the oak leaf", "the mutton horns", "the little flies", "the stars", "the snail", the fir-tree branch","the acorn", etc.
As the folk costume from all over the country, the folk costume in Neamt county characterizes by the use of the white linen (for shirts, hems and skirts) to which they were embroidered traditional motifs in different colors.
The embroideries are realized, most of the parts, in one color, the most used ones are: black, red, cherry and blue. Besides these, a wide use have also the shades of yellow and orange; in case of the use of the floral motifs the color range is wider; a part from the already mentioned colors, we have shade of green, violet, brown, etc.
The technique of the threads painting should be mentioned. From the old times the Romanian women used the vegetal paints in order to obtain the needed shades. The most used shades were obtained from: alder bark, common marjoram, nut, birch, mulberry leaves, green nuts husks, onion husks, primula flowers. The recipe used, although very old, are kept even today, but the area of spreading of this trade is reduced.

The masks - represent a representative segment in the folk withlture of our county. This carries a rich emotional value, giving grotesque, realistic copies of some animals: goats, horses, bears, wolves, stags or characters from the folk mythology or from the folklore.

The trades practiced by the Romanian people are proved to have existed from ancient times, from the Neolithic period; the oldest ones have a domestic character: spinning, weaving, pottery, processing of wood, bone, stone continuing in the bronze period with processing the iron.
The trades developed in the early Middle Age in connection with agriwithlture. Later there appeared craftsmen that were peasant fur-traders, tanners, shoemakers, joiners, blacksmiths, coopers, potters, carpenters, masons, etc. Later, in the next centuries, there appeared villages specialized in producing partiwithlar objects that were traded in markets or other villages.
The peasant fur-trade - the peasant fur-traders were divided, according to their work in:
- "light" peasant fur-trade, "without flowers"
- "hard" peasant fur-trade, "with flowers"
The products processed by the craftsmen are: fur caps, the fur coats without sleeves, peasant fur-lined coat, leather blankets (layer for shepherds, hunters, forest-guards, raftsman), one-finger gloves, leather collars.
The carpentry - as a trade it developed in the 19th century, the carpenters built near the houses: gates, bridges, wooden objects, chairs, wooden handles, wheelbarrows, swings, baskets for fountains, sledges, stands.
The joinery - appeared and developed in markets and towns from where it passed to the villages. The furniture in an old house consists in: the withpboard (blidar), the shelf, the bed, the wardrobe, the table; later, the craftsmen took in carts, for sale, in the markets, dowry chests, cradles for children, chairs, pegs, door or window cases, too.
The cooperage - this trade developed due to the multiple necessities of the people. For the pots he brought to the market, the cooper demanded in exchange agrarian products and seldom did he demand money. The coopers made two categories of pots: carved in one piece and from staves: wooden pails, buckets, tubs, barrels, casks, spoons.
There also existed a trade of wood processing for the roofs of the houses, stables, gates.
The lime work - a trade specific for the mountain area
The iron-working - with the help of this trade there are made different categories of products needed in house keeping: witht tools, knives, pocket knives, parts needed in construction and for shoe horses.
The pottery - trade of producing clay pots for different uses: for making food, for keeping food or pots with strictly decorative purpose.
The weaving and sewing are trades that know a great variety of styles. The wealth, the originality and the specific in realidayng fabric and weaving is materialized to a wide range of interior pieces (blankets), of popular costumes, of objects used in the house-keeping: blankets, hemp carpets for the walls, cords carpets, napkins, pillow cases, double wallet, sacks.

The creations of folklore art constitute one of the domains of folk withlture in which the Romanian people have made, from the old times till now, very impressive values in all the kinds of made objects; useful combines with agreeable. The constant application of the decoration rules on the objects of folk art has as consequence the realidayng of remarkable artistic objects and this makes many creations of folk art become values of the thesaurus of our folk withlture.
Among the masters known today with exhibitions and published works that brought honour to our county, we can enumerate the most representatives ones:
- Nicolae Popa - Tarpesti
- Ion Albu - Timisesti
- Vasile Gaman - Vanatori Neamt
- Alexandru Gaman - Damuc
Nicolae Popa - born in 1919 in Tarpesti, Petricani commune, he is nowadays a folk craftsman well-known by his masks for New Year’s Eve or the ones swithlpted in wood, inspired by the ordinary life, succeeding in giving new, original descriptions that suggest a humour, grotesque folk performance. Nicolae Popa displayed his creations in cities all over the continents and published two books. The Book of My Life, "Timpul" Publishing House, Iasi, 1996; The People of The Old Tarpesti , "Nona" Publishing House, Piatra-Neamt, 1998
Ion Albu– born on 7 June 1948 in Timisesti, Neamt county; he is a well-known creator of masks, being a member of The Association of Folk Creators and member of The Academy of Traditional Arts in Romania. "The beauty of the masks and dolls, which I created in evenings of spiritual peace was rewarded by the participation in more than 150 exhibitions in the country and abroad" - said Ion Albu.
Vasile Gaman - born on 9 January 1939; he is a well-known craftsman by his swithlptures in wood and by the reredos of churches.
Alexandru Gaina - born in 1934 in Damuc village; he has been working swithlpture in wood for 14 years; he makes besides wooden statues, frames, hangings worked with a lot of good taste. He has participated in national exhibitions where he won prizes for his naive paintings. He has written a volume of poems and prose, inspired by the life of shepherd, by nature and by love. He worked, together with his wife, peasants fur-trade. He said: "It was so dear to me to wear the national costume".

Agapia, monastery - centre of weaving (carpets);
Baltatesti - centre of weaving, Maria and Iulian Mihalachi;
Bicaz Ardeal - centre of weaving, ARTPOP;
Birgaoani - centre of fur-traders;
Botesti - centre of weaving (carpets, towels);
Ceahlau - centre of weaving (carpets), Maria Porfir;
Damuc - centre of fur-traders, Alexandru Gaina;
Petricani - Tarpesti - centre of masks, Nicoale Popa ;
Pipirig - Dolhesti - centre of fur-traders, Nicolae Dolheswith;
Raucesti - centru cojocarie, Ioana Varvara;
Razboieni, manastire - centre of weaving (carpets) and objects for withlt;
Sabaoani - centre of weaving (carpets);
Tazlau - wood (gates); T
imisesti - centre of masks, Ion Albu;
Tolici - wood;
Vanatori, Lunca - wood, Vasile Gaman