Carpets of Moldova
Of the museum collections, the most interesting is the collection of carpets of the State Historical and Local History Museum of the MSSR in Chisinau (former Museum of the Bessarabian Provincial Zemstvo), in which the Bessarabian carpets of the late 18th – early 19th centuries are well represented. The fine examples of towels (shttergae), belts (brie) and embroidered women’s shirts (kamesh), which are in the collection of the museum, constitute a valuable comparative material in the study of carpet patterns. Several interesting carpets are kept in the State Art Museum of the MSSR in Chisinau. Unfortunately, exhibits of Chisinau museums, with rare exceptions, have neither dating nor geographical certification.
In the archive of the Research Institute of the Art Industry of the Rospromsovet in Moscow there is an album of sketches made from Moldovan carpets by the artist M. Nazarevskaya in 1935. A similar work was done in 1945 in Right-Bank Moldova by a group of Moscow artists (E. Shumyatskaya, V. Yartseva and other). The sketches made by them, stored in the State History and Local History Museum of the MSSR, provide very significant additional material for the study of Moldovan carpets.
In the literature on Ukrainian carpets, published before the revolution and in the first post-revolutionary years, the Moldovan carpet is regarded as Western Ukrainian. In some cases the carpet weaving of Bessarabia is called Romanian. Thus, in B. Kryzhanovskii’s article “The Ornament of Ukrainian and Romanian Kilims”, Romanian carpets should be understood as Romanian.
This article is interesting in its attempt to describe some types of Moldovan carpets. However, the author’s conclusions about the eastern origin of the motives for drawing Ukrainian and Moldovan carpets can not be considered justified. Similar conclusions are found in the more capital work of the Polish author S. Schuman (St. Szuman), dedicated to Polish and Ukrainian carpets.
In the Soviet period, the theme of Moldavian carpet weaving began to appear in literature only very recently. A small place for consideration of the Moldovan carpet is given in F. Gogel’s book Carpets (1950), and also in M. Livshits’s book The Art of Soviet Moldova (1958). Finally, we point out the recently published first issue of the album, compiled by the author of this work and containing 36 color reproductions from Moldovan carpets of the pre-Soviet period.
Of particular interest are the materials of the literary sources in the part where they concern the question of the origin of the motifs of folk ornamentation in the carpet weaving of the Southeast Europe – Ukraine, Moldova, Romania and other countries.
The similarity of individual graphic motifs in carpet weaving of these countries with motifs of oriental carpets led some authors to orientalist theory (borrowing theory) trying to prove the eastern origin of European folk carpet making. Orientalists consider the carpet pattern of Ukrainians, Moldavians, Romanians and other peoples as arose under the direct influence of carpet patterns of the East.
Carpets of Moldova
For a long time, Moldova has occupied a special place in relation to a group of Slavic countries. In the formation of the Moldovan nationality, its culture and art, the Eastern Slavic element played a particularly important role. The close association of the Romanized ancestors of the Moldovans with the Slavs led to the strengthening of the Dacian-Roman culture.
The close historical links between the culture of the Moldovans and their permanent neighbors – the Slavs – are thus convincing evidence of the extent to which the commonality of many elements in the art of these peoples is not accidental.
It is impossible, of course, not to notice the similarity of some motives of the Moldovan carpet pattern with similar motifs in the carpets of individual countries of the East. We have shown that if this community refers only to the content of the motive, it still does not testify to anything. However, occasionally one can, in addition, observe a noticeable style analogy in the character of the construction and the drawing of the motive, which in such cases does not exclude the possibility of direct borrowing. Even more often one can see motifs from the late West European art, especially revered in the landlord-boyar milieu, in the Moldovan carpet pattern.
The earliest mention of carpets in the eastern Slavs date back to the beginning of the tenth century. In the work of the Arab writer Ibn Fadlan about his journey to Russia in the 1920s, the 10th century. when describing the rite of the burial of the Slavic leader, it is indicated that the body of the deceased was placed on the carpet. Here there is a mention of a woman who “manages the sewing and cooking” of tissues of this nature, which fully confirms their local origin. About such appointment of a carpet as a ritual object at burial of notable persons in ancient Russia it is informed also in Russian annals sources X-XII centuries.
Thus, it can be assumed that on the territory of Kiev and then Galicia, which consistently included the territory of Moldova, there already existed local carpets with certain, though very limited functions.
The artistic features of the Moldovan carpet were formed in close interaction with other areas of folk art – embroidery, painting, ceramics, wood carving. In the indicated period (XVI-XVII centuries), all these types of folk art were a kind of complex style, which was close in its artistic methods to the more recent examples of folk art known to us. Undoubtedly also, that then there was already an interference of folk artistic traditions and professional art – architecture, painting, etc.
Due to the fact that carpets dating back to the 18th century are completely lost, it seems interesting to note in the preserved early monuments of Moldavian art the elements of folk art traditions known to the American by later carpets.
Some commonness with folk ornamental traditions is already visible in the earliest monuments of Moldavian architecture. So, for example, individual elements of carpet ornaments can be seen in the mural of the arches and the upper part of the walls of the church of St. Nicholas in the Radauti, built in the XIV century.
The end of the XV – first half of the XVI century. left us a lot of magnificent monuments of architecture and monumental painting. The walls of the churches are entirely covered with frescoes, not only from the inside, but also from the outside. Solid polychrome decor is typical for the best works of architecture of this period, such as the Voronets, Humora, Vatra-Moldavica, Sucevitsa and others churches.
Although the ornamental motifs in the painting of these monuments are given a comparatively small place, in them we also find elements of folk decorative traditions. In the picturesque respect, the Moldavian fresco is distinguished by the extraordinary harmony of colors and bold comparisons of large color masses, which gives it a certain resemblance to the ancient Moldovan carpets. I. Stefanescu, noting the common features of the decorative features of monumental painting and the folk art of Moldova, writes: “..to see this, it is enough to have an opportunity to see on the holiday in Bukovina – in Vatra Moldavitsa or Sucevit – the church narthex, filled with women in embroidered suits and shirts. Matching in color and ornamental motifs is easy to establish if you compare the motifs of a wall painting with embroidery on their clothes. ”
For the Moldovan architecture of the XVII century. characterized by a certain weakening of pictorial traditions and the strengthening of architectural and plastic techniques. Painting continues to remain inside the temple, and the facade receives a purely architectural design by the introduction of pilasters, arched niches, complex rods and cornices, while the walls are covered entirely with carved ornaments. It is interesting that this technique is repeated in later national architecture and exists in some areas of central Moldova today. Comparison of ornamental motifs of stone carving in the architecture of the XVII century. (the monastery and the temple of Dragomirna, the Church of the Three Saints in Iasi, etc.) with carpet motifs of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. shows their considerable similarity.
Common are images of flowerpots, branches, flowers, garlands, trunks, meanders, eight-ray stars? crosses, etc. This also indicates the connection of Moldovan art with folk artistic traditions.
High level reached in Moldova in the XV-XVI centuries. the art of artistic weaving and sewing. Monuments of this art are of special interest to us as the ones closest to carpet weaving. Shielded church vestments and various covers of Moldovan work were supplied to Christian churches and monasteries, located far beyond Moldavia. N. P. Kondakov gives a detailed description of a number of monuments of Moldovan sewing – epitrahiles, airs, shrouds XV-XVI centuries. (from the monasteries of Putna, Suchzwitz, etc.)? stored in the sacristy of the Athonite churches. In the pattern they meet motifs close to carpet: garlands, trunks, vases, stars, etc.
The State Historical Museum in Moscow holds one of the earliest sewing monuments – the so-called veil of Elena Voloshanka, dating from the last years of the 15th century. Some of the compositional features of this work, the secular plot and, in particular, the nature of the ornamentation of the rim, clearly distinguish this veil from similar monuments of Russian sewing and suggest that it was created by Moldovan craftsmen. The shroud is especially interesting for us with its border, filled with ornamentation, stylistically very close to some forms of the Moldavian carpet pattern. This shroud is also remarkable as a monument reflecting the ties between Moldovan and Russian art.
Particular interest in Moldovan art of the XV-XVII centuries. represent ornamental ornaments of hand-written books. Relations with folk art are also reflected here. Concerning the penetration of the elements of folk art into the ornament of the Muldava manuscripts, A. II. Yatsimirsky, who was studying this issue, notes the considerable similarity of the manuscript motifs with the “vulgar” motifs of the wall mural of the Moldovan huts and, what is especially interesting for us, with the motives of the Moldovan carpet pattern.
A great similarity is also found when comparing the individual motifs of the manuscript adornments with the ornament of Moldovan pisanoks.
Presence in the art of Moldavia XV-XVII centuries. ornamental traditions of folk art, thus testifies to the existence of a link between them. The impact of one area of art on the other was mutual, and the people’s art itself was enriched by borrowing ornamental motifs and compositional techniques in architecture, painting and decorative and applied art.
In the XVIII century. architecture, monumental painting and other arts of Moldova experienced a decline. This was due to the intensification of the Turkish-fanariot oppression and the general economic decline associated with it. However, folk art lived and developed; carpet weaving reached a high artistic level in this period.
The earliest surviving monuments of Moldavian carpet weaving belong to the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries. Only since this time, we can make a more or less accurate representation of the artistic appearance of the Moldovan carpet, its ornamental motifs, composition and color features.
Carpets of the late XVIII – early XIX centuries. are distinguished by high artistic merit and indicate the flowering of carpet weaving at this time. It is only natural that this flowering could be the result of only a very long improvement in carpet art in the preceding period.
Samples of carpet weaving of the late XVIII – early XIX centuries. they reveal certain signs that allow them to be attributed to the objects of peasant or landowner life. Carpets made in homestead workshops are large in size. In addition, in their drawing you can often see baroque and empyrean decorative motifs, related These carpets with a similar type of Ukrainian so-called “Pan’s” carpets.
In Moldova, there were carpet workshops with women’s monasteries. The carpets they made were intended for churches, as well as for the personal needs of the clergy and nuns. In part, this production was of an artisanal nature. Monastic carpet weaving was based on folk traditions, it left us interesting samples, however, often abounding with floral motifs borrowed from Western European decorative art.
Carpet weaving was partly a matter of handicrafts and in the villages, being an additional source of income for the peasants. However, until the second half of the XIX century. The handicraft-craft way of production is not characteristic for carpet weaving. Carpet in Moldova remains, mainly, the subject of domestic production, which is largely due to the natural way of the economy.
The role of the Moldovan carpet in the national life of the XIX century. was extremely great; this is confirmed in a number of literary sources. Describing the people’s everyday life of the Moldovan pridnestrovians, A. Afanasyev-Chuzhbinsky reports on the abundance of carpets that were an important subject of the interior decoration of the peasant house. The author points out the difference in the quantity and quality of applied carpets as a consequence of the social heterogeneity of the peasantry.
While the peasant masses, who “live rather poorly. .. still, if possible, rugs postlany even on benches “, among well-off peasants, for example, in rezheshey,” carpets, one is richer and more beautiful, … hung on the walls “, and” on the bed is laid a whole pile of pillows with colored borders and a pyramid of blankets and carpets, bent four times, intended for dowry daughters. ” A. Zaschuk stresses that even in every poor peasant house the shops are covered with “simple but best carpets of their own work, made, as the local commoners say,” ko skoarce cesute de myn frumoase “- beautiful and able hands.” We find similar information in a number of other works.
In the life of the Moldovan peasants, the carpet was not the subject of purchase and sale. The spread of carpet weaving was supported by an ancient tradition that obliged the bride-girl to bring home-made carpets to her dowry, which were a necessary household item in the family. These carpets, not to mention their utilitarian value, had to testify to the hard work and skill of the bride. That’s why from a young age women were taught carpet weaving, and the rare of them did not know this craftsmanship.
The development of capitalist relations in Moldova in the second half of the XIX century. strongly affected all the Moldovan carpet weaving, influencing the character of carpet production and the artistic side of the carpet.
In terms of production, carpet weaving continued to develop, helped by the increasing demand for carpets from the rapidly growing urban population. The network of small domestic peasant crafts expanded, and the production of carpets in landlord and monastery workshops increased. At the end of XIX century. Large carpet workshops existed in Chisinau and Soroca districts.