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The Ethnographic and Folk Art County Museum Baia Mare

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The Ethnographic and Folk Art County Museum Baia Mare

History. In 1899, a Museum Association was founded in Baia Mare. Its members donated the objects which were to make up the first collections of the museum. The approval for founding a section of ethnography and folk art was given in 1964. The research activity and the organizing of the museum collections started only in 1968, by the setting up of exhibitions, a systematic research of the material culture and acquisitions, so that in its present stage the museum owns over 7000 exhibits, some of them real pieces of national treasure. The museum was organized having an indoor section (thematic arrangement: curator Janeta Ciocan) and an open-air section – i.e. the village museum (curator Sabin Şainelic). The indoor section was installed in the building of the former open-air theatre (on a 500 square meter surface). The village museum was set up on a neighbouring area, the Flowers Hill, on a 12 ha surface and was inaugurated in 1984.

The indoor section houses the material treasure of folk art creations from the four ethno­graphic areas of the county: the historical Land Maramures, Chioar, Lăpuş, and Codru. The first room includes objects illustrating the basic occupations of the people, farming and cattle breeding, as well as beekeeping, food-gathering, hunting and fishing. The second room displays technical equipment and three of the most important crafts: smithery, joinery, and carpentry. The third room is mainly dedicated to pottery with a collection of household ceramic objects (from the 19th century) and also objects used in religious ceremonies (17th century icons on wood and 19th century icons painted on glass). The fourth room displays folk costumes and textile wares.

The outdoor section (The Village Museum) houses homesteads from the four ethnographic areas, each of them with the associated buildings important for economic reasons. The museum was installed around a wooden church brought over from the hamlet of Chechiş (Dumbrăviţa village), which used to belong to the domains of Baia Mare (as attested by documents from 1566). The church, dated from 1630, was moved to this new location (Flowers Hill – Baia Mare) in 1939. The latest restoration works were made in 1990 and, in 1998, the church was dedicated to St. Martyr George. The construction is composed of porch, front narthex, nave and altar. It was made of oak wood and has reduced dimensions (12.45 m / 4.5 m).

Among the architectural monuments which have been bought one should mention the houses from Cărpiniş (1758), Giuleşti(1794), the farmsteads from Broşa (1795), Berbeşti (1806), Prislop (1811), and the shed for storing crops from Chechiş (1794).

The farmhouse from Petrova is dated from the 19th century. From an architectural point of view it is a construction from that period typical for the well-to-do people from the area. This is where Dr. Gheorghe Bilaşcu, the founder of the Romanian school of stomathology and of the Faculty of Stomathology in Cluj, was born. (

The Vernacular of Maramures

The nowadays county of Maramures was constituted as an administrative unit in the post-war years, on the basis of geographical and political criteria. Four “lands” (the south of the historical Maramures, Chioar, Codru, and Lăpuş) were thus reunited. There are similarities among these zones but also differences as concerns traditions, elements of folk culture, and vernaculars.

Referring to the Romanian language, linguists consider that it has four dialects: Daco-Romanian, Istro-Romanian, Aromanian, and Megleno-Romanian. The Daco-Romanian is divided at its turn into five main sub-dialects, those spoken in Moldova, Muntenia, Banat, Crişana, and Maramureş. It has to be specified that the sub-dialect of Maramureş is spoken exclusively in the historical Land of Maramures, in the villages of the Mara, Cosău, Iza and Vişeu valleys.

The vernacular from the Land of Codru belongs to the sub-dialect of Crişana. Specialists include it in the so-called “someşean” vernacular.

As concerns the Land of Chioar, Professor I. Chiş Şter (1983) stated that “it is almost the same with the vernacular from the Land of Codru”. Though, one may say that there is a “transition” between Codru and Lăpuş.

The vernacular form the Land of Lăpuş seems to have a powerful “personality”. From a geographical, ethnical, and historical point of view, it represents the extreme northern part of Transylvania. Nevertheless, we would rather consider it as a kind of “lateral area” of the historical Land of Maramures from where it has borrowed a rich vocabulary, a great number of ethnographic characteristics and a rich folk repertoire.

Irrespective of their belonging to one or another of the sub-dialects, the vernaculars from Lăpuş, Chioar, and Codru have borrowed some particularities of the Maramures vernacular due to the geographical closeness and the social and cultural connections.

One can find a relatively unitary character of the vernaculars of the four regions situated in the Nordic territory inhabited by Romanians only as concerns their vocabulary.

These are the arguments that come to certify that the vernaculars from the county of Maramures are undoubtedly a brand.

Nevertheless, the above presentation refers to a description applicable only to the past. Nowadays, the situation is somewhat different because of the degrading of the traditional local word-stock. The phenomenon is directly influenced by the political, economic, and social events from the last decades. One can predict without being mistaken that only after a generation the traditional culture of north-west Romania, so conservatory in the past, will disappear.

The word-stock of the Maramures vernacular, as a brand, has a nationwide notoriety, and can be distinguished from among the vernaculars spoken in other regions. And it is the cultural policy of the European Union that recommends the preservation of linguistic diversity with local colour as an inheritance of people’s traditions.

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