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The Csángó Ethnographic Museum in Zabola

The first collections of the Csángó Ethnographic Museum were put together under the initiative of the ethnographer Ferenc Pozsony, who has been collecting ethnographic material in Zabola and surroundings starting with the first part of the 1970s. In 1974 the continuously growing collection was placed into a peasant house built at the beginning of the 20th century. In its first decade of existence the collection was enriched with very precious 15th–19th century glazed tiles, painted furniture and objects of everyday use. In the 1980s – due to the widening interest of the founder – Transylvanian Saxon and Moldavian Csángó material was added, featuring costumes, textiles and tools.

The mixed collection, a result of four decades of work, was institutionalized in 2003 under the name of Csángó Ethnographic Museum. The long-term functioning of this new institution, the management of its buildings and collections, the proceedings regarding accreditation are assured by Pro Museum Association (Zabola), officially registered in 2004. In the same year the Association signed a contract with the Székely National Museum, according to which the Csángó Ethnographic Museum functions as an external department of the prestigious institution.

The institution hosts in Zabola special museology practice programmes for the ethnography students of the Babeş–Bolyai University in Kolozsvár, supervised by professional staff, and also the annual conference of young ethnographers. The museum – attracting a considerable number of visitors – organizes different lectures, events not only concerning the Moldavian Csángós, but also the history, society and traditional culture of the local communities.

1. The Moldavian Csángó collection

Since 1991, the Department of Hungarian Ethnography and Anthropology of the Babeş–Bolyai University of Kolozsvár together with its background institution, the Kriza János Ethnographic Society, have carried out regular fieldwork in the Moldavian Hungarian communities. As a result of this research, which by now has been going on for nearly two decades, and which has inspired several papers at national and international conferences as well as a number of well-documented publications and exhibitions, scholarly attention was directed towards the assimilation and acculturation processes which are taking place in the Csángó villages.

In 2001, the Kriza János Ethnographic Society initiated the process of establishing a Csángó Museum in Zabola, based on the already existing collections. The staff and students of the Department of Hungarian Ethnography and Anthropology organized the first permanent exhibition called The traditional folk art of the Moldavian Csángós in the six rooms of the ground floor and the gallery of the first floor, an exhibition opened on September 14 2003 enjoying significant professional interest from the country and from abroad.

In the hall of the new building a collection of photographs and maps introduces the settlement structures of the Moldavian Hungarian villages and their traditional architecture. On the ground floor visitors can see the workshop, living room, and earthenware products of a potter’s family from Gorzafalva.

The first-floor gallery presents the “courses of life” of Csángó-Hungarians of Moldavia, their religious life from birth to death, their folk religion, printed and hand-written books of prayer and books of songs in Hungarian language, and their festive costumes and traditional textiles.

A major part of the objects comes from the personal collection of Ferenc Pozsony, a collection featuring approximately one thousand items, mostly 20th century Moldavian Csángó textiles, everyday and festive costumes, pieces of furniture, musical instruments, objects and publications related to their religious life, earthenware products from Gorzafalva and Frumósza, diverse objects used in everyday life.

At the beginning of the 21st century the material was enriched by the donations of Endre Atzél, Gergely Csoma, Mária Domokos, József Gazda, Imre Harangozó, Attila Hegyeli, Tinka Nyisztor, Mihály and Margit Perka, Vilmos Tánczos, András and Tekla Tötszegi, Bogdan Turlui, Gábor Vargyas and his wife, and later on of Balázs Vörös. Besides the collection we have a related bibliographical data base and a Csángó Archive containing manuscripts, publications, drawings, photographs and films.

2. The collection of local history – Zabola

In the 1990s the local museum of Zabola had become an atelier of the Hungarian ethnographic education from Kolozsvár, its collections being registered and described by the students from the Department of Hungarian Ethnography and Anthropology within their summer practice of museology. The exhibition from the house has been constantly developing due to the increasing number of objects and museologist intervention. At present the visitors can enter this local house built at the beginning of the 20th century and admire the monuments of Zabola, the glazed tiles, the historical representations kept in private interiors, the mementos of the two world wars, but also get acquainted with the traditional costumes and crafts of the Székely and Romanian inhabitants, and enter the “clean room” of a peasant family from the interwar period.

The historic collection consists of objects, illustrations, documents and photographs regrading the “kuruc” era, the Revolution from 1848–1849, the period of dualism, WWI, WWII and the communist era. An outstanding amount of material can be consulted on the events of 1848, the members of the Habsburg family and WWI. In fact this collection mirrors the way and the objects through which the mentioned events are represented in the homes, the private spaces of the local families. In the last few years the collection of the history of education was also significantly expanded.

The most valuable part of this collection is represented by 15th–19th century tiles found in the villages of Zabola and Páva. Besides these we can discover numerous functional objects of everyday use and also decorative ones, presenting an outstanding festive character. We have an item of an outstanding importance, a green Hutterite jug with tin cup. Most of the objects are works of local potters, others were made in Kézdivásárhely, Brassó, Csíkszereda, Barcaújfalu, Korond, Küsmöd, Torda and Zilah.

Other items of outstanding value of are the 19th century painted, decorated pieces of furniture and dowry chests. Many of these painted, decorated chests were manufactured in Orbai region. Usually they feature a floral composition on their central surface. The collection hosts several pieces of furniture manufactured in the nearby cities of Kézdivásárhely and Brassó at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, thus showing a strong influence of secession. These objects are a documentation of the evolution, the bourgeois becoming of the 19th–20th century local interiors. An outstanding milieu is created by the population of objects reconstructing the way of life of farmer families from Zabola in the first part of the 20th century including kitchen, bedroom and dining room furniture.

The ethnographic collection from Zabola included numerous objects used at agricultural works or in everyday life. They were used mainly at the women’s works (hemp and flax cultivation and processing, weaving, spinning, cleaning, cooking), at collecting, at the cultivation of the land (ploughing, sowing, mowing, harvesting, exploring the woods), and at animal keeping activities (shepherding, milk-processing). A major part of these items were made by local craftsmen (blacksmith, joiner, cooper, wheelwright, carpenter), while some were manufactured in the nearby villages (Haraly, Gelence, Csomakőrös and Zágon) or in the city (Kézdivásárhely).

The Székely costumes collected in the settlement expose a changing process from the beginning of the 20th century to the present days. Thus we can trace the evolution of the popular costume in the region undergoing bourgeois modernisation. During the 1930s and 1940s the local intelligentsia together with Countess Johanna Mikes promoted and sustained the use of the Székely dress as a festive costume. It is quite interesting how the locally made grey woollen work wear of man, and the black ones used when going to church have survived almost until the present days. Besides the costumes this collection also has pieces of homemade textiles used in the house.

3. The Romanian collection of Zabola

The museum offers important material about the life of the local Romanian families as well. Up to the second part of the 20th century the major occupation of the local Romanians used to be shepherding. The richness of the collection of tools and objects related to shepherding is a result of a conscious collecting activity. We were able to purchase a wardrobe consisting of the traditional festive costumes of a local Romanian family. We also succeeded in purchasing the furniture of the family’s clean room and kitchen, their textiles, everyday objects, and objects of their religious life, mainly icons. These items reflect precisely the lifestyle of a Romanian shepherd family from Zabola in the first part of the 20th century. We also documented the life of this family through photographs and films.

4. The Transylvanian Saxon collection

The Saxon collection of our museum includes first of all traditional festive costumes, interior textiles, different pieces of furniture and ceramics. With the help of these items we are able to represent the change within the Transylvanian Saxon culture and lifestyle during the 19th and 20th century. In addition to the collection of objects a rich photo and documentary material is available.

5. The Gypsy collection – Háromszék

Our colleagues focused also on the documentation of traditional occupations (e. g. collecting forest herbs, mushrooms and fruits) and craftsmanship (making of wooden spoons, screens, brooms and baskets) of the Gypsies from Zabola through different objects, products, photographs, and films.


2015.04.28
On 1 April 2015 MAGMA Contemporary Art Space from Sfântu Gheorghe celebrated its 5 years anniversary. During these five years we have collaborated with around 250 artists, art theorists, philosophers, etc. and together we contributed to what MAGMA is today.[ details ]
2015.03.18
MAGMA Contemporary Art Space from Sfântu Gheorghe cordially invites you to the opening of the group exhibition Examples for Non-universal Chair on March 18, 2015 at 18:00. [ details ]
2015.02.12
MAGMA Contemporary Art Space from Sf. Gheorghe kindly invites you to the opening of the exhibition 'DREAMHUNTING' by Igor BUHAROV (Kornél SZILÁGYI), Ivan BUHAROV (Nándor HEVESI) and Vasile CROAT (László HORVÁTH). [ details ]
2015.01.15
On January 15, 2015 at 19:00 MAGMA Contemporary Art Space from Sfântu Gheorghe cordially invites you to the opening of the exhibition entitled The geometry of water by Hungarian artist Ágnes PÉTER winner of the first prize at the second edition of the International Graphic Art Biennial in Szeklerland.[ details ]
2014.12.17
SALON VIDEO and MAGMA Contemporary Art Space cordially invite you to the opening of the archive-exhibition salonvideo_SUBmissions.[ details ]
2014.09.11
Magda CSUTAK // Solo Exhibition[ details ]
2014.06.28
LÖRICZ Ágnes, Dan MIHĂLŢIANU, SZATHMÁRY Lóránt, PITTMANN Zsófia, Doris SCHMID, Christoph SCHLESSMANN[ details ]
2014.04.28
Ivan Ladislav GALETA solo exhibition[ details ]
2014.02.14
Opening: 14. February, 2014., 19:00[ details ]
2013.11.16
Group exhibition[ details ]
2013.04.23
Zoltán Szegedy-Maszák & Márton Fernezelyi [ details ]
2013.02.12
The 35-year anniversary exhibition of MAMŰ[ details ]
2013.01.19
Prints, Drawings and Photos from the Ethnological Archives[ details ]
2012.03.16
MAGMA Contemporary Art Space invites you to the opening of the exhibition entitled Master and disciple 4 of the artists Ilona NÉMETH and Jaro VARGA [ details ]
2011.07.15
Joint temporary exhibition of the Hungarian Museum of Trade and Tourism, the Hungarian Museum for Science, Technology and Transport and the Fazakas & Kimmel Collection [ details ]
2011.07.12
The commune Árkos and the Covasna County Capital, Sepsiszentgyörgy will host an extraordinary event: the ‘Spiral’ International Contemporary Art Symposium takes place here at the Training Center and the garden of the Szentkereszty Castle. [ details ]
2010.01.22
Our exhibition attempts to give an overview of the main events, effects and consequences of the greatest plague epidemic of European history, the Black Death, which first devastated Europe in 1347-1349. [ details ]
2009.09.19
Holidays and Encounters II. – Ethnographic exhibition and Europe in Miniature cultural program in the Székely National Museum[ details ]
Executive editor: Vargha Mihály.
© Copyright: The Székely National Museum, 2014.