This is a slightly different blog post to usual as we are sharing some non-wedding images from our archive! We’re about to head over to Romania for a few days to spend some time with a charity we support and thought it was a great opportunity to share some photos from a trip Ally made to the rural area of Maramures a few years ago.
Commissioned by a travel magazine to photograph life in the traditional North-West of the country, this is the story of a region largely unaffected by Europe and the EU.
“On 1st January 2007, nearly two decades after the fall of communism, Romania joined the EU. With foreign investment and a developing economy most of the country rapidly transformed from one of Europe’s poor relations into a modern, cosmopolitan country.
Isolated by the snow-capped Carpathian Mountains, rural Maramures is not easy to reach. The Romans gave up, so did the invading Turks as they made their way through the Balkans to Hungary. As a result traditions survived here that disappeared in other parts of the country.
Travellers come here for a glimpse of how life has been lived for centuries; horses and carts out number cars on the road, traditional farming methods mean many villages are entirely self-sufficient and with a stone sense of local community the region is, as yet, largely unaffected by the EU.
Visiting is like stepping back in time.”
Men sitting outside, Ieud Village, Maramures, Romania.
Most houses alongside the main roads of Maramures villages will have a bench outside the gate. In the spring and summer evenings villagers will sit on the benches catching up with their neighbours, exchanging news and watching all that goes by. Many of Maramureses villages are so small that there is just one main road running through them, people’s addresses are merely their house number and village, (Ieud nr. 102). These four men, having finished work, stop to talk about their day before heading to the bar for their nightly glass of ‘tuica’, a local plum brandy.
Ion Cicioc brings his horse to the blacksmith in Bogdan Voda, Maramures, Romania.
A horse if often considered a persons most valuable possesion and the people of Maramures treat them well. Horse and cart is the perfered mode of transport in many villages, far outnumbering cars on the road. A horse also helps in the fields. Here Ion Cicioc queues outside the busy blacksmith waiting for his turn to have his horse re-shoed.
Hitching a ride on the hay cart, Botiza Village, Maramures, Romania.
Women sitting on the bench outside their house knitting, Botiza Village, Maramures, Romania
Traditional weaving is one of the most important activities in the village. Only natural colours are used to obtain the thread materials for weaving. “Tolurile”, as they are called by the women, have striking colours: warm tints of green, yellow, smooth brown and sometimes red and blue, made from natural dyes. As well as making their own clothes the women make souvenirs to sell to the increasing number of tourists.
Ion Cicioc (the owner) and Ioan Bizau (the blacksmith) attempt to re-shoe a tempremental horse in Bogdan Voda, Maramures, Romania
A woman collecting water from the village tap, Botiza Village, Maramures, Romania,
Many houses in the village of Botiza have yet to install running water with most of the 1,500 residents relying on the communal taps dotted along the main road. Some fortunate families have a well in their garden and even fewer (mainly those who cater for the tourists in the numerous guest houses) have a water supply in their homes.
Maria Perta, building her house, Sieu, Maramures, Romania.
The dream for many people in Maramures is a brick house. As a result many traditional wooden houses are being knocked down to make room for brick and stone contructions with all the modern conveniences. When a villager has saved up enough money to build their house everyone in the village will gather to help with the building. On this Tuesday morning, about 30 villagers, men and women, old and young alike, were helping Maria Perta build her house. The unspoken agreement is that if you receive help from the village to build your house, you are obliged to return the favour for the next build.
Two boys minding a herd of cows and water buffalo in the Tiblesului mountains of Maramures, Romania.
Villagers who have more cows than they need for the summer can pay ‘the village’ and send the surplus animals into the mountains with a local boy chosen for the job. He will spend the summer tending the herd whilst sending the milk and cheese back to the owners. This way the owner gets the benefits of having cows but without incurring the daily cost of feeding and tending to them. Families will take it in turns to send one of their sons into the mountains, the agreement being that the family of the boy does not pay ‘the village’ for the care of their own cows, therfore the poorer families in the village by offering their sons more frequently as a herdsman can still receive the same benefits as the richer families.
Palaga Balea, from Ieud, at the Monday morning animal market, Bogdan Voda, Maramures, Romania.
Palaga wears the traditional dress of Maramures women complete with boots made out of sheepskin. In an region of Romania that is almost totally self-sufficient many Maramures women work as hard as the men in the fields and on the land and their practical attire reflects this. Several hundread people from all the local villages gather at this weekly market in Bogdan Voda to buy and sell animals, animal produce (milk and cheese) and food stuffs (flour, salt and vegetables – all home grown). After completing a sale they will toast the deal with a ‘tuica’ (local plum brandy) or a beer from the catering stall whilst catching up with all the local news.
Women returning home after a days work, Botiza Village, Maramures, Romania.
Monday morning animal market, Bogdan Voda, Maramures, Romania.