20 November 2016

DRĂGHICENI COTTAGE, Olt County, the XIXth Century

The Drăghiceni village is situated in the central area of the Romanați plain, 4 km west of Caracal city. The village is documented, according to tradition, from the times of Pătrașcu the Good (Romanian: „Pătrașcu cel Bun”), father of Michael the Brave (Romanian: „Mihai Viteazu”). Similar to most villages on the plain, Drăghiceni is compact in structure, a collected village. The village inhabitants are engaged in traditional activities such as agriculture, grape farming and animal breeding. A harsh steppe climate, in conjunction with specific social and historical conditions have entailed up to the XIXth century the perpetuation of semi-burried constructions, a style of housing typical for the neolithic period.

This particular constructive system would have offered a dual protection, both for climactic factors (cold winters, hot summers), also for frequent Turkish raids. Notedly, even the churches in this area have been built in similar fashion in order to be inconspicuous. The Drăghiceni pit-house was built around the year 1800, and has been transferred on Museum premises in the year 1949.

This archaic type of housing carries further old time constructive techniques of pit-houses: the dug foundation with hydrotechnic insulation of burnt wood, with massive oak tree plank lining to form the walls. At times, walls of narrow sides of the house – as well as walls that part the rooms – were made out of bricks. Strong pillars are fastened onto the longitudinal axis of the house, which support the master beam aided by poles. The roof framework is supported by tree trunk halves and is visible from inside the rooms. The roof cover is made out of successive overlays of cane, straw and clay.

The Drăghiceni homestead is outlined into three functional spaces: the slopped entrance (Romanian: „gârlici”), the equivalent of a porchway for surface houses, the fire room (Romanian: „oceag”) which features an open fireplace with a chimney, and the living room, heated by the double-sided fireplace. Onto the hearth mantelpiece and all around it, the house exhibits a series of objects linked to the preparation, the storage and the serving of food, objects such as the clay shell (Latin: „testum”) for baking bread, stakes, spoons, a low table, flour crate. The living room is host to two beds laid in a right angle, built out of boards, with feet nailed to the floor.

The somber furnishings and the geometric décor of woolen fabrics (rugs and carpets) are centerpieces of this living area. Of particular distinction, the framing around the slopped entrance, a monumental portal, is ornated with ancient motifs such as the rope, the solar circle and the rossettes. Horse heads with human silhouettes flank the slopped entrance, reminiscent of the ancient motif of the Danube Knights.