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FROM CARPATHIAN

TO PINDUS

PICTURES OF ROUMANIAN

COUNTRY LIFE

BY

TEREZA STRATILESCO

WITH TWO MAPS AND SIXTY-THREE ILLUSTRATIONS

" Taranii, partea cea mai numeroasa si mai interesantit a

poporului roman." Al. Lahovary (Discurs parlamentar)

("The peasants, the most numerous and most interesting

part of the Roumanian people")

LONDON : T. FISHER UNWIN

ADELPHI TERRACE. MCMVI

{All rightx reserved.)

Preface

The present book I address to the British public, who,

during my stay in the United Kingdom, ever impressed

me as eager to know and to learn, and who have plied me

with hundreds of questions about the Eoumanians, of

whom indeed, and quite naturally, they knew but little.

This volume is not intended as a book of controversy or

polemics, it does not pretend to fight out the cause of

the Eoumanian nation, it simply aims at showing and

describing what the Eoumanian nation is, or at least the genuine and most interesting part of it, the peasants.

No moment seems more appropriate for putting it before the public than this very year, when the

Eoumanians are celebrating their eighteenth centenary in the Carpathian region, the fortieth anniversary of King Carol I. on the throne of Free Eoumania, the thirtieth anniversary of her independence, and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the young kingdom.

A national exhibition in Bucharest, opened for the

occasion, will help to show the progress made by the

nation at large.

What would not this progress be,

were

it the result

of

a civihsation of eighteen cen-

turies standing !

by the

ten

unrelenting barbaric invasions of the Middle Ages ; of the remaining eight hundred, more than seven centuries ought again to be taken out, as quite unprogressive,

owing to Turkish suzerainty. Thus, what the Eoumanian

But, out of the eighteen centuries,

filled

have to be deducted, having been

vi

PREFACE

exhibition will have to show will be only the progress

accomplished in the last half-century, with the union

of Free Roumania as foundation stone for all further

progress.

In 1859 half of the Roumanian nation

were able to unite in the principality, afterwards the

kingdom, of Roumania ;

in the last war, 1877-1878,

under the glorious leadership of King Carol I., she won

her independence, being thus entrusted by fate with the

heavy responsibility of representing the nation before

the world.

As to the war of independence, I do not think it can

From the point of view of

general history it may have been a small war, but for

us Roumanians it has been a great war, a tremendous

ever be made too much of.

war.

In order fully to realise its magnitude, let us

imagine for one moment what might have become of

us had we been beaten.

Woe to us, for everything was

at stakeunion, liberty, our very existence !

And we

might have been beaten, for our army though brave (as

it has proved to be) was small and untried on the battle-

But we have been victorious, and the

achievement was entirely due to the wonderful ability

and warlike skill of the present king, as has been acknow- ledged by all those competent to give an opinion on the matter. That is why the grateful people eagerly seizes

every opportunity of feasting its king, and will always couple the name of Carol I. with the greatest names

in history.

The connections of the Free Kingdom with foreign

field as

yet.

countries are many and ever developing.

The Rou-

manian flag has now begun to fly far away over

seasthis very year new

augurated. Of

in-

the ships in course of being built this

lines are going

to

be

year for Roumaniaships built in foreign dockyards

but

on plans

and under

supervision of Roumanian

engineerstwo are christened with the historical names

of Imparatul Trajan (Emperor Trajan) and Dacia, in

memory of the deeds accomplished eighteen centuries

back on the native ground of the Roumanian nation. "Good luck " to them, and may they long live to carry

PREFACE

vii

far and wide the name of an ever greater Roumania, ever

worthier of her great ancestors ; may the national exhibi- tion give a real insight into the power and ability of the

Roumanian nation ; may this book succeed in giving a true insight into the soul of the people !

Jassy, Roumania,

April, 1906.

T. S.

Contents

 

PAGB

INTEODUCTION

1

 

CHAPTEE I

PEASANT AND SOIL

44

 

CHAPTEE II

THE PEASANT IN THE SOCIAL SCALE

CHAPTEE III

.

.

THE PEASANT AND THE STATE

CHAPTEE IV

THE PEASANT AND HIS RELIGION

CHAPTEE V

THE PEASANT IN HIS HOME AND AT HIS WORK

.

CHAPTER VI

.80

118

156

205

X

CONTENTS

CHAPTEE VII

THE PEASANT IN HIS RELATION TO FOREIGNEES

CHAPTEE VIII

THE PEASANT IN HIS AMUSEMENTS AND PASTIMES.

INDEX

.

PAGE

298

. 328

373

List of Illustrations

Old Couple

A Sheep-Fold on the Heights

A " POIANA "

Girls minding Sheep

Church built by Stephen the Great

Oldest Church of Stephen the Great

Up in the " POIANA "

Peasant Cottage

Ploughing

A Woman with her Distaff

Temporary Hut in the Fields

A Eaft on the Bistritza

Boy minding Geese .

Shepherds

North Carpathian Dress

Sawing Timber

In the "Haraba" (Closed Cart)

A Well in the Plain

A Monk

The Cathedral " Curtea de Arges "

Priests about Town .

The Monastery of Varatec

Monk at work

Travelling Monk

The Monastery of Agapia . Peasant Homestead .

Ploughing

A Cattle Fair

.

Xll

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

Carrying the Hay

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:

INTRODUCTION

DESCRIPTIVE AND HISTORICAL

" When God resolved to make the earth, He took a ball of warp

and another of woof, and after calculating the heaven's size set to

work, giving the ball of warp to the hedgehog to hold.

But the

cunning little beast

unawares, made an earth much too large to be fitted imder the sky.

let the ball go loose, so that the

Creator,

What was to be done '?

The Almighty stood there, puzzled and

annoyed, when the industrious bee came to the rescue. She quietly

flew round the hiding-place of the hedgehog, and heard him say

' H'm, if I were God, I would simply take the earth with both hands,

crush it together, and thus produce on its surface mountains and

valleys, and fit it under the sky.'

The bee informed God of what she

had heard, and He, following the hedgehog's hint, crushed the earth

and gave it its present shape, with mountains, hills, and valleys,

instead

of

the

even

surface He had

at first decided upon."

Boumanian Po;pular Tradition.

The Carpathian chain, in the shape of an irregular bow,

somewhat crushed towards the south-east, leans with both ends on the Danube ; one end in the region Vienna-

Presburg, leaving off beyond the river, the last ramifica-

tions of the Alps, the other end bending again towards the Danube at the Iron Gates, which sever it from the

north-western end of the Balkan :

this as a general

outline. As a matter of fact the Carpathians are made up

of a number of chains and peaks, the

south-eastern

branch being, however, the longest and compactest of

these chains.

South of the Danube ramifications of the

Carpathians and Alps, as well as simple independent

2

1

2

INTRODUCTION

groups, make of the Balkan

peninsula a mosaic

of

mountains and vales, a chief backbone, however, being

traceable from the Balkan to the Pindus.

If in actual framework the Carpathians and Pindus

yield the first rank to the mighty Alps, they have been

better provided for with regard to their external aspect

and with a warmer and greater richness of colour ; they have also a most luxuriant vegetation. I wonder if there exists in Europe another region covered with an ampler

or thicker cloak of forest, so far in great part untrodden

by human foot.

Beneath the trees a soft moss covers

the ground, and beyond the forest region the region of

the herbs begins, with a flora richer than any in Europe,

which has made for generations the Carpathian region a

dominion of the bees, a land of honey.

The edelweiss

is to be picked up in the Carpathians at only 640 m. high above sea-level ; rare plants, like the Caucasian

Galium valantoides are to be found in the Olt valley,

side by side with the Siberian Veronica Bachofeni.

Then the white and blue crocuses, coming out early in

spring to trim with a gorgeous hem the white retreating cloak of snow on both Carpathian and Pindus ; lower

down, the hyacinth, the cowslip, the violet ; and lowest of

all, the rich variety of innumerable field flowers which

make of the hay-field the most gorgeous mosaic of bright

colours.

On such a carpet and under such shade still walk

about in full enjoyment of life the heavy bear, feeding

leisurely on the plentiful raspberries and strawberries,

entirely unmindful of man picking the tasty fruit a few

the wolf, hunting in herds, a dreadful

steps beyond ;

nuisance in winter to man and beast, even into the

villages down in the plain ; the sly red fox, much hunted

for its fur. The wild goat and the powerful buffalo are an extinct race now, leaving only their impressive names

behind ; the lynx and the marten are becoming rare, while the meek, timorous chamois is still to be met with

in quiet, remote corners of the mountains. Endless herds

of roes and stags are an easy quarry for the cruel wild

boar, an ordinary inmate of the mountain slopes. Lower

To face page z.

^yn^

A.'-X.

1-rec Roumanians

XXX

XXX

Kounianians; under

Foreitin Dominion

(many ; compact population)

(few)

Where Roimanians Live.

i i^

INTRODUCTION

3

down numberless quadrupeds of all sizes and appear-

ances, doing more or less harm to man and as much as

they can to their weaker fellow animals, fill with life the

most solitary fields and the darkest woods, whilst high above them innumerable birds fill the forests with their

interminable concerts. Ruling and reigning over all,

even in the plain and especially about the Dobrogia,

hover the rapacious kings of the mountains, the hawks

and the eagles in close flocks, and often of enormous size.

Insects in millions are there, some of them harmful, with

butterflies such as might be expected in such flowery hay-fields. The clear mountain streams swarm with

trout ; the shad-fish in the Prut and the sturgeon in the Danube mouths and in the Black Sea, with its caviar

and isinglass, enjoy a worldwide renown.

Beside these living products on

their surface, the

mountains, both north and south of the Danube, contain

in their bosom stores of mineral wealth, to a great extent

unsounded as yet, little of it opened to man's use. The

gold mines of Hungary and Transylvania are the source

of nearly the whole gold output in Europe, and it is

notorious that they long ago produced more, and seem to

have abounded with gold in the Roman times.

Salt

mines, rich springs of petroleum and of mineral waters, are worked out with ever increasing success.

II

" Apa trage la matca

^i Eomanul la teapa."

(" Water draws to its current

the Roumanian to his race.")

Mysterious and impenetrable as the Carpathian and

Pindus are in many respects down to the present day, a

no less thick veil hangs above the earliest inhabitants of

History has already

the regions round about them.

failed to find out the life and whereabouts of man in his

earliest primitive stage in the world ; archseology, which

has done so much in Western Europe, has spent but

4

INTRODUCTION

little labour in the East as yet.

The few poor, groping

excavations have so far brought to light numerous spots

containing large stores of primitive stone implements,

spots to be found everywhere about the Carpathian, in

Bukowina, Transylvania, Eoumania, where these stations

of stone and bronze implements, along with funeral

tumuli, are to be counted by the hundred. Interesting though these finds may be, they have proved, however,

quite unable to give an answer to the still unanswered

question as to the beginnings of man and the cradle of the human race or races ; nothing yet decisive on this point has been discovered in them, granting the supposi- tion that the Carpathian region may have been the dwelling-place of man even as far back as the Palaeolithic

Period. But the last word is far from having been said

on the subject : so much has already been discovered in

the world that was never dreamt of before, and surely

science has still in store secrets for human knowledge

quite sufficient to keep alive an interest in life and lend it

a peculiar worth and pleasantness for millions of years

to come.

The stations just opened for digging are so many and

so filled with primitive remains, that they might freely

provide with valuable

private museums in Europe and beyond the seas, if only

properly worked out. They contain numberless knives,

and

specimens all the public

axes, hatchets, lance and arrow-heads, made of either

flint or grit-stone ; the shapes are various : most of them

are polished, some just only roughly cut. On account of the

great predominance of the polished stone implements,

the stations have been all attributed to the Neolithic

Period only. Besides the stone objects a large supply of

earthenware ones are found, moulded of rough clay, with

the traces of the maker's fingers on them ; pots and jars,

and nameless hooks and things supposed to have been

used in fishing and spinning ; and finally a great number

of idols and amulets, of the funniest shapes and designs. To the same epoch seem to belong a number of tumuli,

in which skeletons have been found together with only

stone and clay implements.

Many stations again, with

To face page 4.

A Sheep fold on the Heights.

[Photo, D. Cadeie.

yiioto, J. CiKnbavi.

INTRODUCTION

5

tumuli, are undoubtedly of the Bronze Period : all sorts

of weapons, of house and field implements ; also many

ornamental objects, like pins, clasps, armbands, neck-

laces, beads, chains, and again a lot of idols of all sorts and shapes, real or allegorical. The pottery of this epoch bears witness of great advance in that art too, and as to

design, it is supposed to belong to no less a family than

the Mykene pottery.

The Carpathians seem to be gaining a new importance,

and consequently hold a more interesting place in history,

by the latest assumption of

the

savants, that these

mountains may have rocked on their powerful bosom the

Aryan race.

Thus, with just a suspicion as to the paternity of the

Aryans about them, the Carpathians have been waiting

in the dark a good long while, until the dawn of civilisa-

tion shed its first beams upon them, and it was from the

South that these came. As is generally known, the first

light of civilisation came upon Europe from the Orient,

brought through those Britishers of old, the Phoenicians,

the

developed first in Greece, whence it spread northward and westward, arousing to new life the peoples as it went

civilisation

great

merchants of antiquity ; this

alongthe Macedonians, the Eomans afterwards, but

leaving still at a lower stage the Thracians, those remote

neighbours in the north occupying the ground, from the Bosphorus and Hellespont northwards over both shores

of the Danube, up to the Carpathians, and meeting in

the west with the Illyrians, who in their turn, mixed with Celtic tribes, reached as Celto-Illyrians or Skipetars

the shore of

the Adriatic Sea.

Lower down on the

ladder of civilisation were the Thracians' brothers, the

Agathyrses, dwellers of the Carpathian mountains, and

lower still their remoter relatives and neighbours, the

Scythians, nominal masters of the plains extending from

the Danube far into the east, to the Caspian and Aral lake. By the end of the fourth century, however, these

latters' power having been overthrown by the Sarmates,

in the eastern region of the Dniester, two Thracian tribes, the Dacians and the Getes, came thence to the front as

6

INTRODUCTION

masters of the Danube valley, whose actual inhabitants

they long since had been under Scythian rule. As their

power stretched northwards the whole Carpatic region took the name of Dacia.

In the course of time Greece, then Macedonia, had

played its part in the world's history. A new power aroseRomewhich from Italy was to stretch out her

grasping hands to the four points of the compass. Her conquests towards the East only are of import to us here,

namely, that of the Balkan peninsula, which was made

by very slow steps only, pressing

along with it the

Roman influence all along the Danube valley, whilst the

south of the peninsula was developing under the stronger

Greek influence.

Now across the Danube wars with the

Dacians easily ensued, and the final result

was

the

conquest of Dacia by the Romans, 106 a.d.

The Roman province of Dacia was formed of

the

Banat of to-day, the Oltenia ^or western part of Valachia

down to the Oltand the plateau of Transylvania proper,

which, like a natural stronghold, became the centre and

the basis of the Roman domination and the focus of its

influence in those parts.

territory acquired was surrounded by barbarians. To

defend the new province against them, Trajan founded

military stations on the slopes ; around and from these stations Roman influence spread out beyond the area

of the actual province. After the conquest of Dacia, Roman influence and

civilisation covered like one single sheet both shores of

the Danube, less potent, of course, in proportion as it reached a greater distance from the centre of the Empire,

but Dacia, was, nevertheless, an exception in this respect, and there were strong reasons for the fact that Romani-

sation was more complete here than anywhere else.

Indeed, we know that many Romans had settled there

before the conquestwe must not forget that Dacia was the California of those days of scarcity of goldand Trajan himself brought here colonists from every part of his immense empire, but much more, of course, from the

eastern regions, as innumerable inscriptions found in

On almost all sides the new

INTRODUCTION

7

Dacia bear witness

to

the

present

day.

Still more

colonists came of their own private initiative, attracted

by the riches of Dacia.

Boman civilisation were introduced into the Carpathians,

and in short time the Dacians, who still remained after

the conquest, accepted the

Boman rule, and were

Bomanised and thoroughly mixed with the Boman

Boman life, Boman usages,

colonists.

Fine towns arose, and Boman life unfolds

itself in Dacia as in

Italy.

Bomanised Dacians were

admitted into the Boman armies, like the cohorta I Aelia

Dacorum settled in Britannia, the England of to-day, and

many others. The "flying dragoon" of the old Dacian

flag is preserved on the Daco-Boman arms, together with

the bent sword, also a Dacian weapon.

For a century and a half Dacia was part and parcel of

the Empire, quite long enough for the Bomanising of a

province which, like Dacia, attracted such crowds of

settlers, more even than the emperors were willing to

allow. Indeed, it is notorious that even Trajan was loth

to

let

so many colonists go

away from Italy, as

the

Boman element in that country was only too diminished

already; nevertheless, inscriptions are there to testify

that a great many of the settlers came from Italy, the

very heart of the Empire.

Whilst Boman civilisation was thus taking lasting root

in the Carpathians, aided by the richness of the soil,

the increasing commerce, and the natural fortifications of

Dacia, south of the Danube

Bomanisation, strangled by the Greeks, was slowly but

in

the

Pindic region,

surely dying out.

The Pindus was far from affording

as suitable a soil for the thriving of Boman seed as the

Carpathian did.

If

for a century and a half

Dacia was a Boman

province, her life was far from being a quiet, uniform one all this time, and, following Trajan, emperor after emperor had to repel ever recurring invasions of the eastern and

northern barbarian neighbours. One Boman writer tells

us

Trajan was so

disgusted with the constant struggles he had to maintain

for the preservation of Daciathe more so as Adrian was

that

the immediate

successor of

8

INTRODUCTION

by no means a warriorthat he was incHned simply to

renounce the conquests of his predecessor.

He was,

however, dissuaded from this by his counsellors, who

insisted that "it would be a great pity to leave so many Roman citizens helpless against the barbarians " an

argument which clearly implied that if the Emperor

deserted Dacia, the citizens would not.

Thus Dacia

continued its life still under the wing of Roman rule.

But the invasions continued relentlessly ; from the

time of Caracalla (211-217)

the

Goths began their

incursions, which soon became so troublesome that at

the time of Gallienus the province was already looked

upon as lost for the Empire.

Its actual renunciation

was, however, resolved upon about the year 271 by the Emperor Aurelianus (270-275), so that for about half a century Dacia was the platform of continual battles

between the Roman legions and the barbarian invaders.

In this half-century of extreme hardship, what were