Gagauzian Folk arts and crafts


The history of Gagauz carpet weaving has very deep roots. It is known that this occupation was well developed among the nomadic Turkic tribes, and, according to some scholars, it was they who brought this ancient folk craft to Europe. The similarity of pictorial motifs led scientists to believe that the carpet patterns used by Ukrainians, Gagauz, Moldovans, Romanians, arose directly under the influence of Oriental masters of carpet weaving. However, some researchers of national crafts believe that the elements of borrowed patterns, hitting the soil of the existing national art of the Gagauz, have undergone significant creative processing, acquiring a new understanding, and with it a new form.

The carpets of the Gagauz were not the subject of sale. The spread of carpet weaving was determined by the ancient tradition, which obliged every bride to have carpets of her own production in the dowry. This was to testify to the girl’s diligence, patience and perseverance. That is why every girl from her early youth was certainly taught weaving. The main raw material for the production of carpets was sheep wool. Before the advent of aniline dyes, mixtures of natural origin were used to dye yarn. Coloring solution was obtained by digesting dried and crushed flower petals, bark or roots of plants.

Gagauz loom

Pile carpets

The Ceadir-Lunga Historical and Ethnographic Museum holds two carpets made using pile technology. Both of them relate to the end of the XIX — beginning of the XX century. Floral patterns are characteristic of the decline of carpet weaving in Bessarabia. Such an ornament was also called a “soap pattern”: in those days, the embroidery patterns used by needlewomen were printed on packages of Romanian soap. In the absence of other options, Gagauz craftswomen independently translated such a “soap pattern” onto tracing paper and woven their carpets on it. Gagauz pile carpets are thicker than ancient Asian ones. They have a common — method of vyvyazyvaniya Where, when, from whom did the Gagauz masters learn to weave such carpets? There is still no definite answer. It is not even necessary to assume that in those ancient times there existed some special literature on carpet weaving. Yes, and read something, let’s face it, then not all were able to. So, the information was passed from mouth to mouth, from generation to generation, from mother to daughter, from grandmother to granddaughter.

Secret code

Our ancestors with the help of conventional signs — an ornament — depicted and reflected their inner artistic world, transmitted the enchanting beauty of nature, developing the original art of folk carpet-making. The main motifs used in the craft, the researchers reduce to the following groups: vegetable, geometric, motifs of the animal world, the image of man. Plant motifs reflect the richness of the flora and are divided into several species. So, tree motifs are associated with the image of the Tree of Life or the Tree of Knowledge, considering this symbol borrowed from the religious art of the East. In fact, according to researchers, the image of a tree goes back to very ancient forms of folk mythological ideas about the so-called World Tree. It was presented by our ancestors as the embodiment of the power of nature, and the cult of worship was widespread among the peoples of the Balkans.

Geometric motifs. Their simplest species are found on pottery found during excavations in the mounds of the south of Moldova. The elements of these motifs are points, dotted lines, straight, zigzag and wavy lines, knots, crosses. «Triangles» resemble a mosaic made of small triangular tiles. Such a motif was widely used by Gagauz in the manufacture of patchwork mats or bedspreads. «Stars» — another traditional pattern — the people interpreted as an image of a flower. There were also «diamond-shaped» and «cross-shaped» motifs. The latter depicted a shortened Greek cross with curls on the tops. The middle field of the cross was filled with a rhombus, and it itself was usually placed in an octagonal «medallion» with triangular notches along its two axes.

The motives of the animal world included the image of birds — swans, pigeons, roosters, storks and animals — sheep, goats. And for some reason, the lions. If the previous representatives of the fauna were typical of these places, the images of lions, apparently, were inspired by dreams of distant countries. By the way, there are practically no lions on the carpets, but on embroidery — as many as you like.

Carpet Superstitions

All sorts of beliefs, taboos, national signs and superstitions have long been associated with carpet weaving. For example, it was believed that hot, steamed wool, as well as the water in which it was washed, can cure sciatica, rheumatism and salt deposits. And the most successful days for the start of carpet dressing were considered Monday and Thursday. In order not to cause the wrath of the spirit — the patron of women’s work, Holy Friday, it was forbidden to weave, spin or work with wool on the night from Thursday to Friday. Also, a ban was imposed on these works during Wolf holidays (traditional winter holidays of the Gagauz). It was believed that wolves would surely attack a person who would wear clothes made on those «forbidden» days.

In the distant past, when giving birth at home was a common occurrence, the newborn girl was carried under the arches of the loom or the umbilical cord was placed on the machine so that she would be hardworking, assiduous and not lazy in the future. There was also a belief that at the time when the craftsmen who made the loom to order sawed the basis for his laying, the woman who would later work behind this machine should be in a scarf. Otherwise, she will either lose her hair or become widowed.

Lady from Gaidar village are weaving the carpet

Every year, on the day of the temple festival, the festival-fair of carpets “Budjak-Koraflar” is held in Gaidar. Gaidar has long been famous for the originality of carpet weaving techniques and ornaments; once here every member of the family, including men, was able to weave Gagauz carpets, in almost every house there was a homemade machine. With the proceeds Gaidar played weddings and built houses.

Author: Nata Chebotar: About Gagauzians, about life and not only

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