20 November 2016

CASTRANOVA COTTAGE, Dolj County, the XIXth Century

The village of Castranova is situated in the north-western area of the Romanați Plain, set inbetween Craiova city and Caracal city. The village vicinity is host to vestiges of a Roman camp, from which the village was lately named after. The occupations of residents were agriculture and the breeding of cattle. In time, agriculture land spread out as oak tree forests were cleared. On a topological level, Castranova is a collected village with ramifications starting from the main road.

Most inhabitans of Romanați area have been servitutes of grand land owners back in the feudal times, records show that Castranova village has been documented ever since the rule of Michael the Brave (Romanian: „Mihai Viteazu”) as a village of the jurisdiction. This southern area of our country is host to genuine Romanian pit-houses up until the XXth century, an archaic type of housing, first identified in the Neolithic period all across Europe. The perpetuation of this type of constructions is the result of difficult social and historical conditions due to frequent Turkish invasions, the destruction and torching of settlements.

The hutch in Castranova village was transferred to the Museum back in 1949. Built around mid XIXth century, the pit-house is a representation of social differentiation between people in the peasant class. The plan of the house features 4 rooms: the ramp entrance (Romanian: „gârlici”), the fire room, the living room, the cellar. As a construction, the house is built with longitudinal walls made out of heavy oak planks to cover the pit, excavated and hydroizolated with burnt wood. The transversal walls are made of bricks, cradled with 4 pillars to support the master beam. The double hipped rooftop with axe carved oak wood framework (Romanian: „mârtaci”) has been overlayed with cane, straw and clay. The slopped and narrow entrance inside the pit-house is flanked by two wedges sculpted in the shape of a horse’s head. Down the entrance slope there’s the warm room (the fire room) with a hearth on the right side with smoke exhaust up a wide chimney. Onto the hearth mantelpiece and all around it, the house features a series of objects linked to the preparation, the storage and the serving of food, objects such as the clay shell (Latin: „testum”), stakes, trivets, spoons, pots, pans, bowls and carafes.

The warm room with the fire leads towards the cellar (the storage unit for food, stocked with barrels, crates and sheds) and the living room. In the living room there is a faux fireplace (fed through a chute in the „warm room”) and various regional crafted furniture pieces (chests, shelves). The traditional fabrics – woolen rugs and carpets decorated with zoomorphic, anthropomorphic, geometric and floral motifs – warmfully adorn the interior with beautiful regional panache. Traditional garments featured inside the pit-house range from the straight apron (Romanian: „catrința”) embellished with various motifs to bridal waistcoats crafted by local furriers from Vădastra and Vișina.