Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Houses museum


Squirrels greyas soot look down as we walk to the sleeping museum. Farm houses made of wood darkened by age or bright ochre clay plastered on wooden beams are surrounded by the outhouses and fences of their industry. Cottages of wheelwrights, potters and glaziers recall a life that is still lived in remote villages of Transylvania. The buildings in Cluj’s museum of ethnography date from between fifty and almost three hundred and fifty years. In this winter display of village architecture and rural industrial workshops the snow binds the vistas together. Church spires stand in the distance between the broad silhouettes of barns and the high roofs of single storey farm dwellings. The museum is set out like a village on the slopes of the hill that carries Cluj’s mysterious and infamous Hoia-Bacieu Forest. At this time of year the village is deserted and eerie. The doors are closed and the windows dark and uninviting. Over large paw marks criss-cross the snow suggesting the possibility of wolves. The sun melts snow on the roofs and makes the thatch steam as if the houses are breathing. The rural buildings of Cluj and surrounding Transylvanian counties are honest and practical, their modest decoration is used sparingly Their beauty comes from their faultless proportions and simplicity. They belong in this rich landscape.



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