20 November 2016

STĂNEŞTI, Argeș County, the XIXth Century

On the upper valleys of Dâmbovița, Doamnei and Târgului River, under the summits of Piatra Craiului and Iezer Mountains, lies an area with one of the most appealing ethnographic areas in our country. With a name inspired by the Romanian word – „muscele” – meaning low, gentle hilltops, the Muscel area has constituted the birthplace of one of the first Romanian statal formations. In the vicinity of Câmpulung, the first capital city of The Romanian Country region, as facilitated by the ties with Transilvania via the Rucăr-Bran passage, the area has developed since early times into a prolific region.

Sheep farming, pomiculture, lumberjacking, trades and crafts of all kinds have constituted the main professions engaging villagers here. The village of Stănești, situated on both sides of the Doamnei River, is a scattered village, with a tendency to spread out along the river. In time, the entire region is host to a vernacular architecture of great expressivity, houses built on tall rock foundations with stairway access to the living quarters. This type of constructions would eventually come to be spread-out across towns and townlets in the sub-Carpathic region of Muntenia.

Modelling a specimen still standing in the village until years ago, builders brought in from the area have assembled a typical house with annex buildings fit for the rural lifestyle: the barn with stable and granary, the fermentation dwelling (Romanian: „povarna”), used for the distillation of brandy, the summer kitchen and the chicken shacks. The house plan features the porch, a middle hallway (the vestibule) with a open fireplace and chimney, as well as two rooms, the living room and the guest room, heated with brick fireplaces. The wooden pillars that support the porch are united together with cob arches and are fitted on the masonry balustrade built over the tall basement to create a constrast between the robust ground floor and the delicate shapes of the first storey façade. The acces stairs to the living quarters are hidden from sight.

The dominant trait regarding the interior space organization follows the lines of numerous fabrics, white, furry woolen bedspreads, with long threads, tapestries, couvertures fashioned with colorful geometric patterns, short and long towels with striped decorations. A piece particular to Muscel interiors is the long woolen carpets („zăvastra”), decorated with big geometric patterns which cover the walls of the „clean room” all around. The Muscel folk wear is remarkable considering the pieces on display, fashioned with geometric sewing, with red thread, black thread, golden or silver thread. The household in Stănești village is living proof that human settlements are nurtured by a local communities and are united by folk culture.