The region of Crişana represents a synthesis of folk traditions belonging to Romanians, Hungarians, Serbians and Germans. The most important specific traditions are related to weddings where the Swabians dance Waltz and Polka, the Hungarian ciardaş, the Bulgarian and Serbian kolo and sitno, and the Romanians hora and ardeleanca. The region of Crişana is situated in the western part of the country. The touristical kaleidoscope is very rich in different traditions belonging to the Romanian, Hungarian, Serbian and German populations and shows a harmonic mixture of an ensemble of specific habits of each nation. The most important ethnographical zones of the region are:
The Stone Land
The Land of Zărand
The Land of Oaş
The Stone Land is an ethnical-geographical region in Romania, situated in the Apuseni Mountains, on the upper reaches of the rivers Arieş and Crişul Alb.
The people living in this region are called Moţi, and are also known as 'Topi' (in German 'Die Zopfen'). Moţii, according to their main activities can be divided into two categories: the original Moţii, who are occupied with the wood industry, and the mining Moţtii or Baiesii from the region of Abrud.
People from here are makers of pails, tubs, shingles and barrel hoops. At the same time they are good carpenters and bridge builders, especially those from the commune of Sohodol. Manufacturing pails, tubs and wooden wheels is the main activity of people from the villages Vidra de Sus, de Mijloc şi de Jos, Neagra, Ponorel, Albac, Scărişoara and Secătura. Those from Albac also manufacture boards, beams, and people from Bistreni and Certejeni shingles. The inhabitants from Albac-Arada, named today Horia, are expert builders of saw mills and saws.
Many of these inhabitants also manufacture singlet and sheepskin coats. They are called cojocari or suci (from the Hungarian word szűcs).
The Moţii, who manufacture pails, tubs and wagon wheels, are called Vasari. In the home of each Moţ, built of firwood or beechwood, and covered with shingles, it is impossible not to have, in addition to a bed and table, the vasarit, a sort of plane used to carve and shape wood.
The Vasari bring their products to the fairs and to the villages. With the money earned they buy food (corn, wheat and rye), which they put on the carriages or horses to bring them to the women and children, who are waiting for them. The poorest are those who manufacture wheels, they don't have anything other than a horse, on which they load the wheels and go throughout the whole country to sell them, replacing them on their return with two or three sacks of cereal grains.
The richest, those who have horses and carriages, form groups of 3-10 carriages, which after being filled with pails, tubs and other tools (made of fir tree), go with their products, slowly, taking daytime or night-time breaks on the sides of roads to sell them in the country, or in foreign countries like Hungary or Yugoslavia. In the region's villages there are a large number of very old elements specific to the Romanian civilization and culture, like the polygonal barn and other household's annexes, characteristic for this area and its folk architecture, households and houses with old traditions, as well as a valuable patrimony of ethnographical elements and of folk art.
Especially well-known is the Girl's Fair on the Mountain of Găina held on the 20th of July each year, where there are various craftsmen's products, many of them with special artistic qualities, brought by craftsmen of the county or from the border-counties of Alba. Even today, besides visitors from afar, there are artists from the whole country taking part in the fair.
The Land of Zărand from the western mountainside of Apuseni Mountains to the Crişul Alb on the other side, isolated, not helped by anybody. Forgotten by the world, but blessed by God, this region represents one of the richest preserves of archaic Romanian tradition.
All you have to do is to stop the car. The people you meet here for many years had to be tough so as to not let themselves be wiped from earth. For them work and moral law were and are the highest standards. In a region, which is not rich at all – where bread is only a dream, people from Zărand depended on and worked with wood. They are manufacturers of old tools like forks, pails, tubs – that now make their way to all corners of the world.
Each year there are more cultural-artistic events: The festival-competition of Folklore Treasures, for folk music bands and traditional instrumental groups (Brad), the Fair of Folk Craftsmen (Deva and Obarsa, comuna Tomeşti); Felician Farcaşu, festival-competition for young folk music soloists, during the national festivities from Tebea (Brad and Tebea), and of Horea, Cloşca and Crisan (village of Curechiu, commune Bucuresci).
Many folk artists continue the development of inherited trades from generation to generation. Among them, the most representative are: Potters from the village of Obarsa, commune Tomeşti; Banciu Cornel, making casks/tubs, the village of Dobrot, commune of Tomeşti; Mates Petru, making musical instruments, village of Dumbrava de Sus, commune Ribita; Dusan Monica, specializing in icon painting, egg decoration, Ribita; Leah Elena, sewing/weaving, Buces. One can visit the workshops where these artisans work.
The Land of Oaş (or the Basin of Oaş) is a basin in the Mountains of Oaşului, situated in Satu Mare county.
Keepers of authentic ethnic and cultural values, the Oşenii succeeded in transmitting from generation to generation the most valuable thing that a nation has: The language, the costumes, and forefathers' traditions. The Land of Oaş became famous because of its costumes, art, music and the specific dance, which can be seen especially on special occasions: Weddings, hore, social evenings, sâmbre, lăutul torturilor and other holidays.
The old house style here is built of wood, with a roof made of shingles or straw, high and tapering and a long narrow porch. Gates are artistically sculpted in oak wood.
The costume is distinguished by originality and the colour of the ornaments. The properly dressed man from here must wear the cloche, decorated with pearls and feathers, along with the decorated purse in special polychrome colors with geometrical or floral motifs. The large summer trousers or the tight ones, and the black or white coats worn in winter are have been worn since the time of the Dacians. The women's costumes are characterized by the same freshness, cheerfulness and originality: The lively coloured blouse is decorated with geometrical or floral ornaments, and the flowery apron is usually either yellow or red. The knit head covering and the pearl coronet worn by brides is very special.
The dances "Roata" and "Miresele", animated by the abrupt rhythm of the violin, de "ţâpurituri" (shouting) beat, are unmistakable. The repertoire of the dances from Oaş, include the "danţul" of young men with young women in columns of pairs, and the circle of young men from the category of vertical dances.
The wedding from The Land of Oaş represents one of the most spectacular elements of the folk culture from North-West Transylvania. Prepared by the young ones and their parents, this moment is polyvalent, having implications in the social life of the community, and in the inheritance system effecting the economical life of the families. The wedding represents, firstly, a passing ritual, manifested by well established rituals: Preparation of the dowry, of the costumes, choice of best men, invitation to the wedding, making of the wedding flag, separations, the wedding, magical acts with inauguration roles, the feast itself and receiving of gifts. All these are accompanied by shouting, orations, songs and dances.
Situated in north-western part of Romania, in the passes between The Western Carpathians and the Eastern, the county of Sălaj has a surface of 3,800sqkm. It has as neighbours the counties of Satu Mare and Maramureş to the north, Bihor to the west and Cluj to the south-west.
Sălaj is a region with hills and basins situated in the valleys of the rivers Almaşu, Agrijul Someş, Sălaj, Crasna şi Barcău. Sălaj is remarkable for a harmony of relief forms – plains, orchards, vineyards, woods, hunting and fishing places.
The heritage of architectural monuments of the county is very well represented by the wooden churches, exactly 68, dating from the 15th – 18th centuries, which are invaluable popular architectural works. The most beautiful churches can be admired at Fildu de Sus (church dating from 1727, remarkable through its elegance of the silhouette and the beauty of decorations), Păuşa, Poarta Sălajului, Baica, Dragu, Sânmihaiu Almaşului, Fodora, Lozna, Răstoci, Ulciug and others. Sălaj is a home to folk traditions with the folk-space of the „Land of Silvania".
Like all over in Sălaj, most creations belong to the lyrical genre, expressing a large scale of feelings resonating in the souls of its inhabitants: The love and longing for the beloved ones, the joy and cheerfulness, the hurt and suffering (L. Ghergariu, 1973)
The traditional customs linked to the succession of seasons, to the death and rebirth of vegetation, are known under the name of calendaristical traditions, and those related to man's birth, to weddings or burials are known as traditions of life. Many of the traditions are kept today in Sălaj: „Pusul moşului şi a babei" is practiced in the period of winter holidays. Prepared secretly, of rags, straw and old clothing, put on a simple wooden skeleton, these representations of old men and women („moşii" and „babele") are taken during night and put in front of the gate or on a high tree in front of the houses where there are older young men and still unmarried young women", in order to make them marry in the period after the holiday of „God's birth". In a few hours, the whole village knows the names of those who are supposed to get married."
„Pluguşorul" is kept and transmitted as a tradition related to the New Year, an occasion on which children wish the hosts heath and wellness. The wishes are spoken under the house's window, accompanied by bells and the sounds of the whip. („zd'ici"). The children received money or fruits. „Sorcova" is a recent tradition, practiced by girls. „Strigatul din deal" was a much appreciated tradition for the young ones, being present nowadays too, without having the proportions it used to. „Danţu' la şură" was maintained until the 1960s. After the religious service, excepting the post days, people gathered for the „danţ". This was organized at the home of a host with spacious barn by a „t'izeş" who used to hire violin players. „Umblatul cu chiraleisa" was practiced until the middle of 20th century, on Epiphany Day. „Sânzienele" (the Midsummer's Night) marks the summer solstice. At this holiday, children gathered from the fields flowers, braid them into crowns, and throw them onto the roofs of the houses, one for each family member. It was thought that the order they fell down from the roof meant the order of disappearance of family members in a year.