Carpet Museum in Gaidar village, Moldova

Handmade carpets

Weaving carpets is becoming a popular activity among the young people of Gagauzia. And recently “The Living Carpet Museum” was opened in Gaidar village of Gagauz autonomy. This project was launched with support of local authorities.

Irina Balkany weaves the carpet with her hands. Gaidar village, Gagauzia, September 2015.

Gaidar village, Gagauzia. To get to this village, you have to leave the road connecting Ceadir-Lunga and Comrat for three kilometers away. Buses and marshrutkas are rare, only passing transport. Local cars pick up pedestrians even without the coveted hand wave of the fellow traveler, they just stop and open the doors.

Handmade carpets are the pride of the village. A few years ago, a living museum of carpet weaving was opened in Haidar house of culture with the support of the SOROS Foundation. Besides the history of this craft, the museum gives lessons of how to make carpets from sheep’s wool and then from these wool – the real carpets, which were woven by their grandmothers 150 years ago.

Irina Balkanni prepares for work, Gaidar village, Gagauzia, September 2015.

This is what the carpet weaving loom and the wool threads for the handmade carpets look like. Gaidar village, Gagauzia, 2015.

The main keepers of the fine art of carpet weaving in Gaidar village are Irina Balkanni and Valentina Marinciu. Both already have grandchildren, but the skill of handmade carpets is forever.

“IF YOU WAKE ME UP AT NIGHT, I WILL TELL YOU EXACTLY WHERE THE THREAD IS AND HOW MANY “CELLS” NEED TO BE MADE SO AS NOT TO SPOIL THE DESIGN,” IRINA BALKANY SAYS, LAUGHING.

They still draw the model of a drawing on six to eight pieces of glued checkered sheets of notebook paper using colored pencils or felt-tip pens, then they place the “notebook drawing board” behind the threads stretched on the loom – and the mystery of the appearance of the carpet is made by themselves.

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According to masters, very few young girls want to continue the tradition of carpet weaving – the labor is painstaking, it takes a long time to produce a carpet and that is why it is impossible to make fast money by selling it. Young people mainly want to leave the village for the city, to start a family there and come to see their parents only for holidays. Nowadays, hand-made carpets are very rare, and a single such carpet is much more valuable than its modern counterpart, created on industrial machines.

But 50 years ago the women of Haidar village were the ones who fed their families by taking their wares to the fairs, selling them there or exchanging them for other goods or food needed by the household.

Today, most of their income comes from orders – for weddings, many girls in the village receive handmade homespun carpets and blankets as a dowry from their parents. This is what the weavers of Gagauzia’s Gaidar village tradition of carpet weaving live for.

Living museum of carpet weaving

Handmade carpets are the pride of Gaidar. A live museum of carpet weaving was opened in the rural house of culture with the support of SOROS Foundation in 2013. Apart from the history of this craft, the museum gives lessons of how to make carpets from sheep’s wool and then weave real carpets from these wool, just like our great-grandmothers weaved 150 years ago.

And since 2013 there is a circle for teaching children carpet weaving and annual festivals of carpets are held. During the last six years more than 1000 souvenir carpets have been made to order for England, America, Turkey, Russia, the Executive Committee of Gagauzia, the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia, the Administration of Ceadir-Lunga, the Mayor’s office of the village, etc.

Our carpets take part in many exhibitions and festivals in Moldova and abroad, as Gagauz carpets are included in the UNESCO list.

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The national traditions of carpet weaving are revived. Creating a chain – the restoration of traditional patterns and technologies, raising the professional level of masters of different age. In practical activity of the project we have received a huge wealth of knowledge and theoretical material for the reform of DK: the development of additional services to the population, attracting tourists and the public.

Photo by G.I. Kara.

There are many open classes in the museum of the gymnasium and in the workshop there are lessons of labor education for girls of 5-9 classes, a great interest to the museum and carpet weaving workshop was shown by tourists from Greece, Turkey, USA, Belarus and Ukraine, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Romania, Germany, France, Poland and others who visited our village. Thanks to this, new productive contacts are established which are very useful for further cooperation.

This project is a new form of AC activities in Gaidar. Initially, the objective was to teach and pass the craft to the future generations. As a result, we have a functioning center for providing additional services to the population, guests and tourists with the opening of a new tourist destination in the south of Moldova.

Photo by G.I. Kara.

“Living museum of carpet weaving”.

Carpet weaving is a strong folk craft from Gaidar village. Gaidar. Each family keeps one or more carpets that the bride wove as a dowry for her wedding. In many homes and farms there are still weaving looms, and not only women were able to weave, but also men and children. In the 50s and 70s, carpet weaving was one of the main incomes of the inhabitants of our village. Gagauz national patterns on carpets were sold in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. They reached such cities as Istanbul and Vladivostok. The carpets are made of a special soft wool, which is obtained from a special breed of sheep.

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Photo by G.I. Kara.

Traditionally, the Gagauz carpet has a more ancient geometric pattern, and floral designs (roses, lilies), came later under the influence of the Moldovan carpet weaving. For some time there was a carpet factory in the village, and today many women in the village know how to weave and are able to pass on their skills to young people. This project is of interest to a wide range of people in the village and will have a positive impact on the development of the village both culturally and economically.

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