20 November 2016

SĂLCIUA DE JOS, Alba County

The architectural ensemble in Sălciua de Jos (English: „The Lower Willows”), Alba County,

is composed of a house and pantry annex (Romanian: „găbănaș”) and was built in the year 1815, then transferred on Bucharest Village Museum premises in the year 1936.  The village was first documented in the year 1365, but it is definitely much older. The name of Sălciua (English:

„The Willows”) originates from the predominance of willow trees on the Arieș River banks,

the „Lower” specification indicates the river flow – on the downstream.

Apart from sheepherding and agriculture, occupations undertaken up until about 1200 metres altitude, Țara Moților (Moți Country) was known for occupations like lumberjacking, wood processing and mining, thus covering the basic needs.

Representative to vernacular architecture in Apuseni Mountains, the house and pantry from the valley of Arieș – a land with houses scattered up to the crests of Apuseni Mountains – is an example of fraternity between man and nature.

The house plan, popular up until the XXth century, features a hallway entrance and a room, the frontside porch built with wood pillars united in elegant archways – verily centered – (Romanian: , „în plin cintru”), with a wooden balustrade and windows with sculptured wood grating. The house is built from hand-hewn fir wood beams on a rock foundation with a steep thatch roof topping the walls thrice (1/3 proportion), adequated to a climate of abundant precipitations to provide for the conservation of materials. The thatch roof cover is made from hand picked wheat straws threshed onto a wooden frame. The pairs of rafter beams (Romanian: „corni” or „căpriori”) are fixated on girders and nailed with wooden nails.

The hallways is host to a 0,50 metre tall hearth (Romanian: „camnița”) built on rock slabs supported on a wooden scaffold over which a basalt plated pyramidal chimney is hung. The living room is impressive considering the generous number of wool fabrics, religious glass paintings, dishes of enamel ceramic, cotton woven towel, pieces hung on walls under plates and icons. The furniture consists of a bed set on two sides between the wall beams, benches, a tall table and chairs with a chiseled backrest. The chests, the richly ornamented weaving distaffs, the cradle nailed on the girder covered with meticulous etchings are proof that wooden artistry makes a good home with Romanian craftsmen.

The pantry outbuilding serves as a storage unit for food and clothes. It’s built out of wood, on a tall rock foundation, it has a cellar, a thatched roof, with a structure and frontage nearly similar to the house’s, thus in harmony with the entire ensemble.