Gagauzia National handicrafts - by Neagu Stepan
Gagauzia is a place full of enterprising and hardworking people. For a long time, people were engaged in various handicrafts that have been preserved until these days. Most of them have disappeared during XX century, but some of them were not forgotten. In this article I will talk about this unique national handmade crafts.
Generally, in the patriarchal Gagauz family there was a distribution of duties: the housewife was taking care of the house, while the husband was in charge of feeding the family. Thus we understand the distribution of women and men crafts.
Traditional women's craft has always been handicrafts: embroidering, knitting, sewing, carpet weaving. That is why I would like to tell you about two modern artisans from the village of Beshalma, who preserved ancient Gagauz handicrafts.
"I can leave everything to start knitting. I love it."
Topal Olga Constantinovna is representing a handicraft that has almost disappeared. During her childhood she was not interested in this labor, despite her mother was doing it while she was little. Her interested appeared later. Olga Constantinovna started knitting wool socks and the clothes for her kids. Now she is knitting knitwear, famous souvenirs all over Gagauzia. According to her words, this hobby gives her a lot of positive emotions, pleasure and quietism: “I can leave everything to start knitting. I love it.”
Embroidered canvas: Maria Petrovna Selemet, who lives also in Beshalma, is the master of another handicraft. For many years, this little known artisan has been embroidering on hexagonal frameworks. The beauty of the canvases cannot be described; it is easier to see it with your own eyes. Maria Petrovna is not sharing the secrets of her handicrafts, but she shared with big pleasure the sources of her inspiration. According to her words, her motherland and the surrounding nature give her inspiration for creating new pieces of art. Most of them are in the Ethnographical Museum of Beshalma.
"This is not so hard. You just need to have the will and free time to do it."
Moving to the next type of handicraft, I have to say that long since, in each Gagauz house there have been baskets woven from rods for household affairs. Usually people made them for themselves or buying them from an artisan. This handicraft is almost forgotten. A man from Beshalma, Kapakli Vasili Dimitrievich, is still engaged in basket weaving. He learned this labor when he was a teenager by observing his father working. They were shepherd sheep on a grazing, but also they were weaving baskets from rods. At the moment, the weaving is a hobby for Vasili Dimitrievich. When I asked him whether this hobby needs any special skills, he answered: This is not so hard. You just need to have will and free time.
"The thing I like the most is to look how beautiful books look when I finish with them." In the village Dezginja lives the only one famous artisan in different areas of Moldova, Kasab Nikolay vanovich – a bookbinder with 64 years of experience. He came from Russia to this village in 1954. He learned this handicraft by himself. He said that, on winter evenings, when he had nothing to do he was writing songs and collecting them in a little book. Gradually, he accumulated experience and developed his skills.
Nikolay Ivanovich says that now he can do any binding much better than in a bindery. And that is true. Binderies made by him last much longer than ones from printing houses. Thanks to the quality of his works, Nikolay Ivanovich is very well known. He gets book repair orders from all around Moldova (Ceadir Lunga and Comrat districts, Chisinau and many others). According to his words, this job makes him very happy and what he likes the most is to look how beautiful books look when he finishes with them.
In Gagauzia have survived many unusual national handicrafts and each of them is unique. It depends on our efforts whether this knowledge and skills from our national Gagauz artisans will survive for next generations.