Monday, July 30, 2012

Pop Pătru, woodcarver from Breb, Marămereș, Romania

Theron, a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer Stephen, and I were lucky enough to spend a few days in Breb, Marămereș, Romania. Breb is a small village where people still wear traditional costumes on Sunday. Our favorite adventure involved a visit to the local woodcarver, Pop Pătru. I met him by accident at our small hostel and invited ourselves to visit him the next day. In typically welcoming Romanian fashion, he replied, "Vă așteptăm!" which literally translates to "I am waiting for you!"

So, the next day we ventured out to find his house. The directions were pretty vague, "Go that way and then ask someone where his house is." We eventually found it, but when we arrived, no one was there. After a few minutes an ancient, stooped-over woman walked across the yard with her cane. Then out came an old man with holes in his shoes, tattered clothes, and a ratty old straw hat with a Marlboro ribbon above the brim.

Pop Pătru, Breb, Romania

Pop Pătru and his wife led us to their workshop. She makes amazing wool blankets from yarn she spins by hand (without using a spinning wheel) and then weaves (using a loom that for some reason includes chicken bones). According to Mr. Pop, these blankets are so warm, they will make you sweat even in the winter.

He then showed us some of his carvings. He was hardly modest, claiming that he was born with a wooden spoon in his mouth! His boasting had merit - we had already seen one of his most amazing works: the wooden gate to the church. In his workshop we saw crosses, spoons, ornate tools for spinning yarn, and stamps used for consecrating bread in the Orthodox church. We were glad to hear that his son and grandson are carrying on the carving tradition.

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