Romania – Ethnographic Museum of Vatra Dornei

Cultural identity is an idea that sparked my interest a while ago and I started doing personal research on this subject and also went on a spree of visiting ethnographic museums in the areas where I traveled to see how this idea was reflected across various cultures by these so called “guardian institutions”. I’ve collected a lot of information which I plan to share here for whoever is interested in culture, ethnic art, travel and also research.

The Ethnographic Museum of Vatra Dornei is located NE Romania in the historical region of Bukovina and dates back to 1897. It is a local museum, the  permanent collection covers various cultural aspects of rural Bukovina (Valea Dornei, Câmpulung Moldovenesc, Rădăuţi, Solca, Stupca, Frătăuţi, Drăgoieşti, Marginea, Păltinoasa, Mănăstirea Humorului, Izvoarele Sucevei) and also arts and crafts by local artisans. The timeline is the end of XIX, first half of XX centuries.

Photo credit: wikipedia.org/wiki/Bukovina

I visited this museum at the end of 2015 and at the time I was mostly interested in the traditional textiles. See below a selection of some of the most interesting.

When I visit an ethnographic museum what I am looking for is not the artistic, aesthetic and idyllic facade of culture, I would like to see what is underneath that facade and to see how these cultural objects and practices relate to modernity and also how the museum is addressing a cultural problem, historical or contemporary, in a critical way. I think this is modern ethnography. This museum is obviously more traditional than modern but so is this region of Romania, where in some parts people still wear their costumes to church. So to a certain degree this place still reflects some of the realities of life in Bukovina. One being that, in Romania museums are poorly funded.

I would have liked too see more of the regions’s cultural diversity reflected in the museum’s permanent exhibition. There were more ethnic groups living in this region and some are still representative to this day, such as the hutsuls.

Peasant blouse Humor area

Shoulder detail (altita)
Under the shoulder embroidery band is called “Incret”
Sleeve embroidery called rivers
Costume from Vatra Dornei
Costume from Panaci area
Detail of Panaci area costume
Men’s costume
Men’s costume
Peasant blouse from Musenita, end of XIX century
Sleeve embroidery called “incret”
Front smoking and embroidery
Shoulder embroidery
Sleeve embroidery
Woven headscarf
Belt worn over the skirt
Costume from Campulung Moldovenesc area
Headscarf (worn by married women)
Details blouse embroidery
Footwear (called opinci)
The skirt is called “fota” and the under skirt usually sown onto the blouse is the “poale”
Man’s costume, Campulung Moldovenesc area
Leather-work embroidery
The belt (chimir/brau)
Footwear same as for women (opinci)
Shirt embroidery for men
Men’s shirts were worn long
Women’s shirt from Costisa, XX century
Sleeves detail: glass beads embroidery
Shoulder almost entirely embroidered with beads

Below some embroidery samples and techniques for shirts.

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