Case study: Țara Moților

ARCHAISM AS AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL FEATURE OF THE MOUNTAINOUS AREA. STUDY CASE: ȚARA MOȚILOR

Candidate: Răzvan Roșu, MA

Mountain areas continue to impose a particular way of life on their inhabitants. The mountain people used to have similar transnational features because of the landform and the larger effort that is needed in order to survive in such an environment. Such characteristics can still be found nowadays, mostly among the traditional communities and individuals that have a more traditional behaviour and way of living.  Usually the mountain areas represent another type of civilization, different from that of the field regions and the big cities: “The history of the mountain regions contains the fact that they don’t have a history, that they stay frequently and relatively isolated from the big cultural currents (…) Capable of spreading great distances horizontally, the cultural currents seem to be helpless on a vertical surface, in front of an obstacle which is a few hundred meters tall” (Braudel 1968: 68). The aim of the present research is to find out why the mountains have maintained more archaisms than the lowlands.

For such a purpose these areas will be used, to a certain extent, for a comparative study among the cultural enclaves of the Carpathians. In such areas the researcher can still find transethnic features, such as various and well defined types of permanent or temporary inhabitance, with over spread villages, a specific architecture, archaic vocal and instrumental traditional music, strongly defined social-economic relations, and a specific type of mentality. From the anthropological, ethnological, ethnographical, dialectological or ethnomusicological perspectives the mountains are still excellent preservers of the archaism. The landscape and the different dynamics of the changes were the most important aspects in favouring a relative cultural enclavization process1. According to their geographical location and natural resources, between the 19th and 21st centuries, some mountain settlements were more open towards industrialization or tourism, or innovation in general, whilst some were more conservative.

However, the main focus will remain on Țara Moților, which can be considered a prototype of the Carpathian cultural enclaves. Situated in the Apuseni Mountains, in the center of what is today’s Transylvania, during the Middle Ages Țara Moților was located on what was the border of the Principality of Transylvania. The name of this ethnographic area comes from its inhabitants, the Moți. The Moți are Romanians spread across hamlets situated at 1000-1200 meters, and whilst they are mostly of Orthodox denomination, there still remains a Greek-Catholic minority. Traditionally the Moți women used to stay in the mountains and take care of the animals, while the Moți men were traveling all over the lowlands to exchange their wooden products for grain.

Using the oral and written sources that refer to this area, one will try to analyze the main features of a Carpathian cultural enclave as well as the archaisms and dynamics of the changes during the last two centuries.

Răzvan Roșu is an external coworker of the VLACH commision. His PhD is carried out at the Institute of Slavistics and Caucasus Studies of the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena (supervisors: Thede Kahl, Valeska Bopp-Filimonov).


Bibliography

Braudel, Fernand (1985): Mediterana şi lumea mediteraneană în timpul lui Filip al II-lea, vol. I, Bucureşti, Editura Meridiane.

(1) This does not concern geographical enclavization, but instead it is a process closely related with traditionalism and the lack of cultural exchange.