Traditional Culture of the Hungarians

The permanent exhibition offers visitors a glimpse of the material culture of the Hungarian peasantry as it was from the end of the 18th century until the First World War.

The Museum of Ethnography's permanent exhibition offers visitors a glimpse of the material culture of the Hungarian peasantry as it was from the end of the 18th century until the First World War. Through thirteen rooms of material, the exhibition illustrates the ethnic and religious diversity of the peoples of the Carpathian Basin, the forms of community typical of the region, the variety of tools involved in a wide range of peasant labours, and the everyday and festival wear of the Carpathian peoples of the period.

Visitors are also familiarised with the traditions surrounding food and nutrition as held by various social groups. Of the various handicrafts pursued by village artisans, the exhibition deals in some depth with those of the furniture-maker, blacksmith, potter, felt-maker, szőr tailor, bookmaker, hat maker, and furrier.

 


The relationship between village and town is illuminated through beautifully recreated scenes of a market and regional fair, while interiors of an Őrség "smoky" house, with its decidedly medieval feel, and of a rich Sárköz farm home, with its elaborately decorated "parlour" reveal the two extremes of 19th-century home interior culture. The flowering of folk culture during the period in question owed much to the craftspeople of the region's villages and farming towns, who produced large quantities of painted furniture, colourful textiles, and embroidered garments, leading to the development of characteristic regional styles. Here, the museum's best pieces of early folk art are displayed together for a truly unique visual experience. The life of the peasant is explored in terms of folk values, with the wedding feast at its focal point.

Exhibits include the bridal trousseau of a girl from Kalotaszentkirály and the church wedding of a couple from Kalotaszeg, presented in their actual settings. The progression of festival days of the religious calendar, the final theme of the exhibition, gives the visitor an impression of the intellectual richness of traditional folk culture. The perceptive visitor will enjoy exploring the interplay of Western and Eastern cultural elements manifest in the folk customs and accessories (caroling, carnival masquerading, Székely traveling nativity plays, and the Christmas table) associated with the year's ecclesiastical and agricultural events.

The exhibition has recently been expanded to include three new computer workstations offering digital images, film clips, and sound files on Folk Costumes, Folk Art, and Calendar Holidays that add both interest and study opportunity to the visitor experience. A set of three booklets entitled Ethnography for Children gives young visitors the opportunity to reflect on the themes presented by the exhibition independently. Talking Folk Costumes, the first booklet in the series, includes an ethnographic map that may be used with the materials to follow. The second booklet, Hey, Hunters and Fishermen!, introduces children to a cross-section of the activities that made up peasant work life. The third and latest booklet takes a look at the difficult life of traditional herdsmen. A fourth booklet is soon to bear the title From Wheat to Bread.

Organised by: Attila Selmeczi Kovács