Visitors to the Shop Gallery, MESTERPORTA, can feast their eyes on the folk art creations made by certified Hungarian masters. They can choose from a range of folklore programs on offer, flip through the pages of publications and photo albums on display and listen to recordings of the best Hungarian folk musicians. The folk artwork available is carefully scrutinised by a panel of judges and is a selection of the finest creations by traditional handcraft masters from all over the country. The MESTERPORTA Shop Gallery serves to showcase these folk art and folk music treasures. A sampling by trade of the Shop Gallery’s selection:
Leather working is one of the age-old trades refined to an art by Hungarians. Leather as a material takes well to a variety of preparation techniques such as tanning, tawing and crusting; as well as the unique forming and shaping of various articles such as saddles and other equestrian tack. After the leather is prepared, there are countless methods of decoration that can be applied such as: appliqué, braiding, stamping, carving and embroidering. Herdsman would delight in the beauty of their ornate leather creations despite their practical use like knife sheaths, haversacks, money pouches, whips, whip handles, bridles, belts and straps and tobacco pouches. The design, durability and sheer beauty of these articles are still made with the traditional techniques and decorative elements make them perfect for everyday use, even today.
Peasants and herdsman often made a variety of small household goods from animal bones. These items included salt shakers, spice containers, buttons, hair combs, needles, jewellery boxes, canes, and knife and razor handles. Bones were often unique in shape and transformed by carving and engraving elaborate geometric or anthropomorphic elements. After carving, the craftsman would then rub an oily soot mixture to enhance the pattern. Inlays of bone were also a popular ornamental element on many wooden items. Animal horns were made into ornate bugle-like instruments used by herdsman.
The Carpathian Basin, where the Magyars settled, is abundant in deciduous forests whose trees were prime for woodworking. The entire tree, from it’s roots and bark to it’s branches and trunk, were utilised in the making of household articles, as well as the construction of buildings. The specialisation and the development of various woodworking trades had begun as early as the Árpád Age (897-1301). Wood was used for a variety of purposes among others including carpenters, shingle makers, coppers, wheelwrights, cartwrights, and cabinetmakers. Building interiors were enhanced by elaborately caved, painted or engraved pieces of furniture such as chests as well as smaller articles. The centuries old and unique relief carving technique used by herdsman (ie. decorating of walking canes and drinking vessels) lives on in the current works of traditional furniture-makers.
Wearing jewellery is as old as mankind with evidence dating back to prehistoric times. In many cases wearing jewellery predated that wearing clothes, while later becoming an accessory. Beads can be made of natural materials such as minerals, wood and bone or from fabricated materials such as glass and porcelain. In Hungary, beads were worn in multiple strands as necklaces or collars for special occasions. The most elaborate and complex stringing techniques and colour combinations were mastered by specialist beaders in Sárköz. The highly ornamental beaded headdress found in both peasant and aristocratic cultures is considered the “Queen of Jewellery”.
In the Middle Ages, metal smiths prepared their own alloys of precious metals. They then hammered, bent, twisted, soldered and moulded these alloys into pieces of jewellery or other small items that were often embellished by mounted gems, enamelling or engraving. Today’s smiths work with ready alloys in their workshops. In traditional peasant cultures, precious metal creations adorned the clothing in the form of decorative buttons or served as accessories such as silver coined necklaces or the enamelled medallion rings.
For centuries the art of embroidery has been exceptionally developed and well documented throughout and beyond borders in the ethnic Hungarian regions. There are a vast array of techniques (ie. cut work, drawn thread, white work) and various stitch types (ie. cross-stitch, satin stitch and buttonhole stitch). These are combined into patterns specific to a particular regions. Some ancient examples can still be seen such as the hand drawn, bouquet-like patterns embroidered with cotton thread on plant-dyed woods. This particular technique was used as early as the Renaissance.
The various applied art movements of the early 20th century resulted in a surge of nationalistic styles and the return to various handcraft techniques. Lace making, also, experienced a revival in this period with the development of some of the most artistic and highest quality bobbin lace. This became known as Balatonendrédi, Hunnia and Móga. Masters based designs and patterns largely on the motifs found in other areas of Hungarian folk art embroidery. Lace ribbons and tapes (especially Móga-style lace) adorned the interiors of houses as well as items of traditional clothing. The intricate lacework collars, cuffs and accessories produced by handcraft masters today add a subtle but elegant antique touch to any wardrobe.
Pottery is one of the oldest crafts known to man. The pliability and kilning properties of the base material and shape formed determines the functionality of the final product. This could be with food preparation, presentation or even storage. Our potters use a variety of techniques and materials to produce items from tableware to cook and bake ware, or even vessels of various sizes. The unglazed pieces are simply coloured with earthen dyes while the glazed are more elaborate. Tin-glazed pottery has a glossy glass-like finish similar to that of the famous Italian Faenza ceramics. The style that took hold in Hungary is termed “Haban” or “post-Haban” stemming from the Hungarian word for Hutterites, a communal branch of Protestants who fled Austria during the Reformation. These people became the masters of the Hungarian style in the 16th century. Characteristic, ornamental elements, and forms are usually specific to a particular potter’s workshop.
Decorated eggs are the usual gift in the traditional spring fertility rites practised on Easter Monday throughout Eastern Europe. The techniques applied in decorating eggs are as varied as the individual patterns and decorative elements developed. In Hungary, a type of batiking with parsley or clover leaves is called “berzselt”. Another type is wax resist batiking which is done by drawing a pattern with melted beeswax. Wax resist batiking produces an entirely different effect when compared to berzselt batiking. Solid-coloured eggs that are etched with knife to yield intricate patterns are called the “shoed egg.” This design technique puts the patience and dexterity of the best blacksmiths to the ultimate test.
In a complicated multi-step process of home- or factory-made textiles, usually cotton or linen, were printed with a resistant material. Then they were dipped into dyeing vats and aired repeatedly until the desired shade of indigo was reached. After, the textile was soaked in a concoction of hydric-chloride and sulphuric acid to dissolve and remove the resistant material. This revealed the undyed white pattern that was first printed on. The resulting fabric of blue and white was reminiscent of the colour scheme of eastern porcelains and became an internal part of Hungarian textile culture. Indigo-dyeing workshops used their own signature and purpose specific patterns for printing of fabric used in the making of various garments, bed linens, dish towels and tablecloths. These textiles are still popular and often used in the making of traditional clothing.
We consider the 18th and 19th centuries the foundation of traditional costumes. Industrial materials such as fabric, lace or ribbon first appeared and started to spread in that period of time. This spread was the base of the development for decorative and festive costumes. In these designs, we can detect traces of former noble and bourgeois wear. The number of worn pieces, like petticoats and decorations, increased in various places and indicated social status and age. The boundaries set by material means were overcome by skillful workmanship. These artisans produced beautifully decorated costumes (similar to men’s) for countrywomen. The towns that are known for their traditional costumes are Sárköz, Torockó, Kalotaszeg and Mezőség. Traditional costumes are becoming more popular with every generation because of their style and decorations.
Various items can be made from braided, twisted, woven or matted strands of straw. Rye-straw is especially versatile and was often used to make bread- and egg baskets. In Hungary, the popular straw hats were made in an unusual way. To begin, you start with six to twelve moistened and flat braids of straw. Next, you form them into circles and then iron them while sewing the braids together. After that, you have to form the hat by pulling up on the circles. It was common for people from different regions to have identifiable braids or patterns on their straw hats. These hats are still popular today in styles for both men and women.
Peasant women or weaving masters spun yarn from hemp, flax, wool or cotton which they, then, wove into textiles. Depending on the grade of yarn and the weaving technique used the resulting textiles were very versatile. Weavers prepared durable patterns for everyday use or extravagant designs for special occasions. Decorative elements could be specific to a particular region. These embellishments might include a simple stripe of colour or woven lace. There could also be more elaborate figures or flower patterns woven into the fabric. Regardless of their practical purpose these textiles served to adorn any interior.
The oldest techniques for smelting and forging of wrought iron are thousands of years old. The trade was learnt quickly by the Magyar (Hungarians). Rural, urban and Gypsy blacksmith masters produced an abundance of items with varying ornamentation. These masters even decorated their tools and instruments as a testament to their skill and expertise in ironwork. Refining the craft, “ornamental smiths” gained significant esteem with their artistic creations which adorned buildings, gates, fences and smaller items.
In operation of Judit Venczelné Danyi
Telephone: + 36 20 232 56 14
Opening hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00 – 18:00 (With prior arrangement of an appointment purchase is possible during closed periods)
Address: 1011 Budapest, 7 Corvin Square.