20 November 2016

BANCU, Harghita County, 1862

The Bancu household originates from a village situated in the south-eastern part of Harghita County, inside the intramontane basin of Gurghiu and Harghita Mountains, an area inhabited by Szekler people. Bancu village was originally part of the Ciuc Székely Seat of the Hungarian Kingdom until the year 1876 and part of the IVth Székely Regiment of Infantry. The Regiment, founded on the order of Maria Theresa, was responsible for holding the military border of Transylvania. The village was also known under the Hungarian names of Banflava and Csikbankfalva, as featured on the Josephine Map of Transylvania, a document which holds information on settlements during the period between the years 1769 – 1773. During the Interwar period, the village was part of the Ciuc County.
The hill region, rich in forests and pastures, has facilitated the development of occupations such as wood logging and cattle breeding. The onset of these professions is reflected in the structure and large proportions of annex buildings used for animal sheltering, tool sheds and transportation. The household in Bancu village is composed of the following constructions: the house, dating back to the year 1862, a summer kitchen, a carpentry workshop, which was a typical annex of rural szekely household in the XIXth century, used for wood workings and carpentry, a barn with a stable, a wood-shed, hen-house and cereal barn, the granary.
The gateway entrance of this household, dating back to 1873, as inscribed on the two arch segments which form the archway of the smaller gate, was built of oak wood, with 3 carved pillars, bound on the upper part with a girder. The binding between the pillars and the girder is made with carefully wrought counter-braces, with a decorative function. The hipped roof is affixed on top the girder using logs. The two-rowed shingles have pointed edges, in dove-tail design. All along the upper side of the gate, underneath the roof, there is a small space with holes through used for pigeon-housing, also known as a columbarium. The pillars and the girder are decorated using precise hatchet carvings and excisions featuring phytomorphic motifs, leaves, potted flowers and various other flowers like the tulip, the lily and the carnation. Alongside the gateway’s build date, the frontispeice is engraved with the names of the family: BENI REGYNA and LIANAK IMRE.

The house is built with notched girders and horizontal fir wood beams of rectangular section ending in narrow edged nicks, laid on a stone foundation. The beams have been covered in clay mortar with whitewash paint. The steep hipped roof is wrapped in shingles which feature a break of slope on the upper third part in order to facilitate a gradual evacuation of large quantities of snow. The porch, situated only on the front-side of the house, is partially open and constructed on the beams. Near the entrance, the porch is enclosed up to the roof in fretted boards. The vestibule, an enclosed space the locals call „eresz” allows for double access: in the living room and the guest room. The partition wall right next to the fireplaces, set in-between the rooms, was built out of stone. The two rooms communicate through a door. Out from the perimeter of the „clean room”, a middle wall parts the space intended for clothes or food storage, also in particular cases, to house the elders of the family. The interior is distinguished by the robustness of the roof beams and the heating systems. Inside the living room, overtop an open fireplace, a truncated chimney hangs suspended from the ceiling. In the living room, the fireplace chimney is supported by pillars and covered in ceramic plates (cahle).
The utilitarian and decorative furnishings of the living quarters are functionally differentiated between the two rooms, one for the living area and one for the guests. All categories of objects: utensils, garments, ceramics, adornments etc are reunited in specific structures. The beds, the benches near the walls, the high table and the cabinet in the „clean room” are part of local traditional Szekler people furnishings painted with floral motifs. The rugs decorated with geometric motifs, the pillow cases and the woven sheets are associated chromatically in warm tones, which give the interior a particular glow and comfort.