20 November 2016

BORLOVA, Caraș-Severin County, 1897

Borlova Village is situated on the Cerna-Mehadia basin, a long basin surrounded by the Southern Carpathians and the Banat Mountains on Sebeș Valley, 13 km away from the city of Caransebeș. This mountain area of the Banat region is represented on the Museum by a grange transferred on the premises in the year 1936.

The systematization plans applied by the Austrian administration, coupled with geomorphological features have shaped a rural topology emphasized by the neat grouping of houses compacted next to each other and a long straightlined roadway.

In the year 1775, the central area of Borlova village is relocated away from the river Borlova and next to the river Sebeș. The new central area is not particulary far from the old one, and the Borlovi people, which then owned increasingly larger sheep and goat herds, needed more water flow for processing wool than Borlova river was capable of providing.

The carding machines used for processing felt (Romanian: „pănura”) were numerous, yet people also used various other technical instalations operated by hydraulic force. The set up of wool processing constructions (carding machines, mills, spinning mules, saws) is extensively represented in the North-West of Banat County and the mountainside of Mehedinți.

One integrant element of a village household is the gateway, in this case it was built in stone. The pillars and the chiseled round stone rooftop (at times presented in the rough, with no plaster) support wooden beams for the roof framework, covered in shingles. This particular type of house commended an era when regional architecture started using burnt bricks for the construction of buildings, in conjuction with wood, which was predominant.

The establishment is organized as follows: the house, the well, the pigpen, surrounded by a bricklined fence with a monumental gateway. The house is constructed and positioned with its narrow side facing the road, it features a double-hipped roof with shingles on top. The materials and technique used for building the house are representative of a transitional period between the construction of traditional wooden houses towards the construction of houses with bricklined walls. The balustrade with porch pillars is made of bricks, and the backwall of the house is erected using round fir brams. The side of the house facing the road features a frontispiece decorated with stuccature motifs – wheels and leaves – carved with the year of contruction: 1897.

The cellar underneath the house and the bricklined porch set a standard for this type of housing. The living quarters are divided into more rooms than the regular 3 unit house: the living room (or the „back room”), the guest room (or the „front room”), a middle hallway (Romanian: „cunia”) which facilitates access between the two rooms, also a pantry for food and tools. The arrangements inside the living spaces (furnishings, domestic objects, tools, decorative fabrics, ceramics etc) illustrate the estethic concepts favored by local residents and the technological workmanship achieved by local artisans of carpentry. The bricklined porch is circumscribed by brick pillars and is fitted with a door for direct access to and from the street.

This particular type of access door is borrowed by Romanian architecture from the Schwäb communities, in order for the roadsides to be evenly set out with a continuos front of house façades, doors and gateways of brickwork fencing. Another characteristic passed onto Romanian architecture by Schwaben and Sachsen brother cultures in Transylvania and Banat country is the adornment of houses with embossed plaster stencils. Similar motifs encountered on woven wattle and beaten earth house frontages in Banat follow this type of structure: the Sun, in miscellaneous appearances, the Tree of Life, birds, vines, crosses arranged coordinately in symmetrical patterns pertaining to the culture and beliefs of respective owners and artists, also the dates of construction. Often times, the renovation of a home updated the construction date. Accents of colour decorate the plaster emboss stencils on the facades, as well as on the heavy masonry of gates.

The shift in structure design for the geometry of rooftops came about with the development of brickworking for the walls, an alternative constructive technique beside woodworking and carpentry. This brings about a new medium of artistic expression, the decoration of house frontages. Window framings and dormer windows framings are highlighted with plaster stencils, geometric vine patterns and semi-circular leaf festoons. Earliest forms of pediments are triangular and exhibit decorative compositions centered round solar motifs and Axis Mundi, the tree of life. Plaster stencil design decorations have been richly developed together with the architecture of woven wattle and beaten earth houses from the region of Banat.