Since I discovered this school a couple of years ago, I’ve been wanting to tell you all about it. It is a wonderful place, where a handful of people have decided to rescue our Romanian tradition in pottery, and the disappearing ways of our villages, by opening a learning centre.
They have opened a Summer school for children, added a primary school, and then a centre for design and sculptures in clay.
It is more or less a universal story of traditions, and what happens to them when we all have our
Iphones, TV channels, and a pret-a-porter/pret-a-manger philosophy. Traditions fade, and die…and with them, our sense of history and identity.
Piscu village used to be a very important centre for making pottery in the south of Romania. Each house used to have one kiln/oven to heat ‘bake’ the clay pottery before decorating it. The shaping of the pots and the ovens were jobs for the men in the village, while decorating the artefacts was a job for women and children.
You will see in the video below a few clay figurines. They were made from the left over clay after
days and days of shaping the dishes. Mainly used as toys for children, and being the highlight of the market days for the kids, these toys are made in the neolithic style. Pottery started in the neolithic, and figurines like these were used in rituals.
Here is an example of souvenirs in the neolithic style. Photography by Ostafi Photography
There are few artisans left in the village who still have working kilns – called
‘cuptoare’. Their trade is not highly regarded anymore, the life in the village is hard, and the
artisans’ children left for the big cities to have a modern life and secure jobs. With them, the skills of the people and the history of this part of Romania are vanishing.
The dedicated team of art and cultural historians, who help the village to become a hub of
inspiration in arts and traditions, are making the link between the old and the new generations. Children are taught about the village life, and they get to make their own pottery, marvelling at the beautiful things they do with their own hands from only soil and water.
‘Understanding means valuing’ – say the tutors, who hope that the children will know how to
treasure, respect, and preserve these traditions.
The school in Piscu village is unique in Romania, and its reputation is growing year by year. They
also focus on rescuing the skills of making other items such as the traditional Romanian blouse, called IE, embroided by hand with symbols from folklore.
Photography by Ostafi Photography
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