Oltenia Carpets

The Romanian peasant has always tried to create an as harmonious as possible environment, in which even the objects for daily use could render his life more enjoyable. Women used to weave cloth of hemp, flax, wool or cotton threads of which they made pieces of clothing for their family members or tissues for household use, such as towels, carpets and wall-carpets. The wall and bed-carpets are traditional for the peasant household where they are used to cover the walls and beds (but never the floor).

Oltenian carpets are actually genuine documents showing the ancient traditional local elements as far as the ornaments and weaving technique are concerned. The ornamental repertory includes such birds that are specific to the local fauna (the hoopoo, the cuckoo, the goose, the turkey) as well as animals belonging to the Oriental world (saddled horses, camels, lions). Feminine representations are exquisite, the characters being rendered in the most various situations in their lives; they are always clad in bell-shaped dresses, according to the fashion of those times. A particular care is also obvious for the rendering of the most particular accessories of their clothing, such as hats, umbrellas, etc. From among exotic birds, parrots are most frequently represented: they are big, placed in a central field, while the lateral ones are ornamented with flowers (tulips, lilies-of the valley, hollyhocks). Their disposal into the surface of the carpet offers the viewer a genuine chromatic picture in which the blending of the colors is made in perfect good taste. By processing special plants, the women in the Oltenia county used to obtain dyes: red, cherry-red, dark blue, yellow, etc. The dark-shaded spaces alternated with the light ones, like in a play of lights and shadows.

The Oltenian carpets are woven on a tambour like loom, with two threads; their warp is made of hemp or cotton and the filling is always made of wool. The weaving technique - known as the Oltenian weaving - determinates the orientation manner, hence the curved outlines of the plants and animals. Although they are rendered in a stylized manner, the technical performance make the branches with flowers and leaves look like a blooming garden.

The carpets, which were usually woven in the specialized workshops in the city of Craiova or in the monastic centres all over the Oltenia county and last, but not the least, in the peasant households, had not only merely utilitarian or decorative functions, but they also had a particular role at weddings and funerals ceremonies.