Archaic occupations were the first occupations of man and represented the main ways of obtaining food and ensuring his existence over a long period of time. In traditional society they represented the secondary occupations, along with the main occupations, agriculture and livestock breeding.
Traditional fishing was practiced, initially by hand, then with the helmet, the fishing gear and methods in this area being imposed by the season, depth and water flow. The tools used have gradually diversified: the hat, the basket, the weir – made of twigs and the sack, the toil, fishing net – made of textile nets.
The main source of fish in the area was the water of Mures, with the tributaries – Toplita, Călimani, Ilva Mare, Sălard, Iod, Bistriţa, Gurghiu), as well as lakes from the plain – Fărăgău, Zau de Câmpie, Cătina.
Fishing with baskets, fyke net, or lease, represented in the exhibition, had the same process and involved the fisherman walking upstream into the valley and hitting water with a stick and stones with a hooked pole.
Fishing with the fyke net was the most widespread fishing technique in the area. Conical shaped fyke net, with the mouth open in the semicircle and the straight base for a good fit, was set up against the water stream to favor the entrance of the fish inside and to block its exit. The stability of the fyke against the current was ensured by built river stones inside and by anchoring with string by the trees.
The exhibition explores the patrimony of pieces existing in the museum’s inventory, by exposing the fishing basket, made of twined wicker, fyke net, weir.
Appearing later, the nets were made of twisted hemp yarn, especially used in deep waters. The sack, a mesh fitted with an aperture, came and stretched over a curved bow in the form of a string and a rope connected to the ends of the circle. The net – prostovol, a circular mesh on the edges with metal weights, was thrown into the water through a special technique to cover large areas, with the diameter of some meters.
Fishing was practiced mainly in summer, spring and autumn, outside the cold season. In the winter, fishing was hampered by the need to break the ice with the spare or the leister.
HARVESTING FROM NATURE
In the past, the harvesting of forest fruits, represented an important source of food. However, the Neolithic Revolution, namely the discovery of agriculture and the domestication of the animals, limited the role of harvesting in nature as a source of food, which became a complementary source.
Among the secondary occupations specific to the area, which implied the exploitation of the natural offer, the harvesting from nature was constantly practiced, covering both the nutritional, folk medicine and organic chemistry requirements (obtaining natural dyes used for textiles).
The harvesting was done in containers, baskets, with the hand or with a special comb for bells. Comestible wild fruits (field and forest strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, currants and gooseberries, hawthorn fruits and blackthorn) were harvested in both the low plain and the mountainous areas, where nature was more generous, filling up the lack of cultivated plants.
The raw material for the dyeing of hemp cloth, wool, leather, etc. was obtained from the spontaneous flora. Thus, to obtain the black color, there were used: the alder peel, the ripped shell of the nut, the oak nuts, for the red color – the madder, for the yellow color, were used the peel of wild apple, of the dogwood and onion, for the brown color –walnut leaves, for blue color – alder bark.
Plant harvesting followed a set of well-established rules aimed at preserving plant qualities while at the maximum effect, plants used as vegetal dyes were dried and stored in noxae-free places. The bark and roots gathered in spring and autumn, and the aerial parts – floral stems, branches, leaves, flowers, fruits – were harvested at the maturity of the plant.
The preferred plants for early growth and vitamin intake by compensating for the low nutritional value of the food, during the period when the harvest was not matured were: nettle, orach, salad, sorrel, dock, as well as plants which were used raw – potato bulbs, wall fern, and turnips, and continuing with the leaves of various plants: the rabbit sorrel, barberry, then with the crusty shoots of the sorrel, the brabin. In spring and autumn were mostly harvested the sponges, ceps, field mushrooms, peppery sponges, chantarelle.
The development of crops has led to the restraining of the areas with wild plants used in the diet, without ceasing to harvest, preserving it as additional food intake.
As a traditional secondary occupation, the apiculture was practiced for a long time due to the moderate climate, the natural resources of the area, and the various flora and well represented flora, within the Mureş Superior Valley through the nectarous species: acacia, lime, blackberry, dogrose, whitehorn, fruit trees, grass-field herbs. Also, the forests, the particularly targeted territories of wild bees have favored the development of apiculture in the area.
Apiculture emerged through the exploration of wild hives, tree trunks, bee hunting, or hunting, through various techniques. Once discovered, the wild hive was redeemed in many ways. A practice performed in early summer consisted of slicing, cutting and transporting it to the household.
Another technique consisted of smoking with brimstone and using a basket made of stupa with honey and mint to capture them. The slaughtering of wild hives and the recovery of the beehives, a frequent technique, was usually done in the autumn by the introduction of a ragged, sulfur-soaked rag, followed by the closing of the bee urn.
The exhibition presents the tools used, present in the museum heritage: the horn, the honeycomb, the bee transport box, the baskets made of cut-off and chopped logs and of twined wickers glued with loam.
The evolution of the bees hives included several stages – the primitive bees hives made of horns, hollowed out and fitted with an eyehole, were replaced with the conical ones, made of braided rods clayed with mould, then it appeared the rectangular hampers, simple, made of planks, and later there were spread the beehives from the planks with boarders, which replaced the traditional types.
In the warm season, they were kept in households under the roofs, and in the cold season in enclosed or covered areas. They were taken out in spring depending on the weather during Mucenici (March 9th), and when spring was coming late, at Bunavestire (March 25th).
Honey was obtained by squeezing the combs with the help of household tools, of which the presses were the ones developed, similar to those for oil squeezing.
The wax left from the combs was multifunctional, being used for various purposes: the preparation of the polish with which the sheep wool was greased before it was woven, in the folk pharmacy, in the religious ceremony, but it was also a favorite light supplier until the discovery of modern lighting.
The decline of occupation began along with the narrowing of pastures and meadows, with the discovery and spread of modern lighting and the gradual replacement of honey with sugar in the diet.
Hunting and fishing have been, from ancient times, important means of winning the existential resources. In time, however, with the domestication of the animals in the Neolithic, they remained alternative, becoming secondary occupations.
The hunt had a double purpose through which meat and furs were obtained, and on the other hand, it provided the protection of crops and domestic animals against destructive wildlife such as the wolf, wolf, fox, bear, ferret, etc. Along with the harmful species, valuable species of meat were hunted: deer, deer, rabbit, or appreciated for their fur: fox, otter, bear.
Hunting, but especially poaching, was practiced by peasants during the Middle Ages, using guns and traps. The hunt was kept as a secondary occupation practiced exclusively by men during winter, compensating for the restriction of other activities. It has grown mainly through the increase in fur trade, the importance of hunting increasing as demand for clothing increases.
Traditional hunting gears were made by peasants within their household. The simplest trap used was the snare or the halter of wire or string, being placed in strategic positions, in access areas in households and in wild animal areas. The cradles were provided with counterweights fixed to the trees for stability.
In the museum, traps for large and small animals are exposed. The metal races were made, especially by the hammer men from the village, at different sizes and depending on the targeted animal, with a metallic round base provided with two semicircular jaws with teeth, mobilized by a steel bow. The mechanism involved triggering the obstacle by touching the jaws and catching the animal.
Hunting weapons appeared and perfected over the time, being inaccessible long time for peasant hunters who were using traditional weapons – the spear with the lance and the sword. The exhibition presents a hunting weapon, in the patrimony of the institution, dating back to the First World War.
Unrestricted hunting, until the first decrees regulating hunting in Transylvania (1854), in Moldavia and Walachia (1891), led to the disappearance of valuable species as a result of the breeding of hunters in parallel with the restraint of the forests and the extension of arable land.
THE POTTERY CRAFT
The detachment of crafts from the agriculture, the emergence and the development of commodity exchange, have determined the development of crafts as a specialization of some distinct groups. The specialized craft representing a complex job, as a result of the assimilation of higher technical skills, has developed in several directions and has led to the emergence of some new categories: potters, blacksmiths, skinners etc.
In the historical and economic evolution of society throughout the country, pottery culture can be divided into three great civilization epochs: the prehistoric age, the Dacian-Roman age and the Middle Ages.
Pottery and the technique of making ceramics on the wheel, was practiced in Mureş County, with centers in Vătăva, Deda and Gurghiu.
At Deda, the technique of making vessels was hand-made of clay, on the potter’s table – by the use of blades – this technique was transmitted along several generations, the potters produced objects of shapes and sizes that at first had a utility purpose, later also decorative.
These ceramic objects, presented in the exhibition, known as “Deda vessels”, have a resemblance with those remained from the prehistoric and Dacian times. The products of this pottery center were made based on an archaic technique and had a household character.
In Vatava and Gurghiu the ceramic was processed on the wheel. The process began with the extraction of clay from special places, then it was kneaded with hands, feet or a large wooden hammer and mixed with water. The mixture thus obtained was cleaned of impurities and then worked on the wheel.
The wheel was made up of two discs, one smaller and one larger, joined by a vertical axis, called spindle. On top of the top of the disk it was fit up the bolus of earth, and the bottom disk was moved by the potter, giving it a quick circular motion. Thus, the wheel was spinning, performing circular shapes with a regular contour.
The process of shaping vessels requires a special technique, precision and high working speed to avoid drying the clay. After modeling and ornamentation, the pot was naturally dried, shaded, burnished and burnt in special furnaces.
Pottery craft had a utility function, but ceramics were also used for decorative purposes, interior decoration, construction, or certain rituals. The greatest utility of pottery was found in the peasant household, which was equipped with a variety of pots and utensils made of clay – jugs, mugs, cups, used for the preparation and preservation of food.
The surplus of the products obtained in the peasant household was capitalized through the exchange of products at the fairs in the area, which besides the economic character also had a social function.