An Experiment of Oral History (1985-1987): Interviews with Members of the Sociological School (II)
MARTOR, III – 1998, p.114-139
Beside being an interesting trip, did Fundul-Moldovei mean anything else to you?
To be frank, it is only at Drăguş that I discovered the countryside. Up to the moment it had been more of a trip, yet a far from disappointing one, but I hadn’t acquired yet – I was too young, too untrained, too unexperienced, I hadn’t encountered problems of the sort, and Fundu-Moldovei was not exactly the village to place you on the right track at a first glance. I mean, for what I was interested in. As far as economic or shepherding problems, or hell knows what else was concerned, it might have been different, but as to these art issues, it could not leave the impression Drăguş had left onto people. Drăguş was a revelation for everyone, not only for me. You know what I mean, it made you realize what traditional culture meant, what a village meant and what peasant traditional culture was all about. This matter did not come out so obviously in other villages as it had done at Drăguş. Neither at Runcu nor at Cornova.
Nor at Şanţu?
Yes, Şanţu did that, more than the others. But not as much as Drăguş. Drăguş had been more accurately preserved, it was more sanitary, more homogenous, more of a whole. Şanţu was more heterogenous.
Did any organizational changes come along with the passage from Fundu-Moldovei to Drăguş?
At Drăguş, for instance, there was an arts team made up of Mac Constantinescu, Marcu Sterian, Paul Sterian, Argintescu-Amza who was in charge of the peasants’ artistic conception, Lena Constante, myself.
Lena Constante was there for the second campaign at Drăguş…
Not for the second. She worked with icons, didn’t she? No, not the second. She was concerned with glass icons. I did the fabrics, I copied the fabric patterns, and she copied the glass icons and did a research. She discovered Savu Moga and did a research on the icons. We would go work together. That autumn, I believe, Gusti took our materials to Berlin, Germany, for whatever it was that they did there, and he had our drawings on exhibition there. We also set up an exhibition at Fundu-Moldovei, a very successful one. The works were first shown at the Seminar and then taken to Germany. Gusti was exhilarated when he came back and told us, I put your names up there with the works and everyone would ask me who those could be!
I know so many things about Gusti that I now seem to grasp him and the next moment I lose him…
Yes. He could be unpleasant at times, and he always lorded it, he was so high-handed in attitude and outlook, just like a lord, yet he had this capacity of being really interested in people, in students, he offered help, opened ways… got them jobs, scholarships. While he was Minister of Education, the place was full of students and collaborators and he did his best for them. He did that. Yet this would not stop him from calling one ‘You idiot!’ and throw one out the doors. Very hot-blooded, he was, highly active. And I think it was this temper of his, hot-blooded and choleric as it was, that helped him initiate and carry through such big and complex projects as the Social Service and the Institute for Social Sciences and all those research programs. He thought big.
Were your preoccupations more specific at Drăguş, as compared to Fundu-Moldovei?
That’s what I sensed, that it was better organized, we worked in teams. The evening sessions were more substantial. Those boys, the brains of the group, were discovering all sorts of things. Vulcănescu had come up with the manure problem, the circuit of the manure. So… manure came from the animals, right? The land was thus fertilized. Grass grew on the land, so the cattle grazed the grass which had been fertilized with their own manure, and more manure was produced… Another observation: money had no value at Drăguş, as people would manufacture everything for themselves. I mean, if you wanted to buy something, they wouldn’t know about it… for it being a closed-circuit economy, they bought very few things, and made almost everything by and for themselves. They would sometimes make exchanges with the potters, that is still with other peasant craftsmen. That was one of the revelations brought about by the contact with this village.
I established a very good relationship with Herseni. I made very good friends with Paula, and I got along very well with Gusti too. (…) No philosophy professor at the time had this gift of attracting and involving the students around him as Gusti did. Besides, there weren’t such subject matters as to… except Nae Ionescu, who had this lot. He was an interesting professor for his students. But apart from those two… The one who appealed most was Gusti. Vianu was also very much admired and respected, but he had no ‘retinue’. I don’t know it P. P. Negulescu taught regular courses at the time… You were not forced to take all the courses, you could pick up three of them for the university degree and attend them for three years, you were under no obligation as to the rest. I can’t remember very well, I know he was clever, he held a course in philosophy on scientific bases. He drew certain philosophical conclusions about the world out of research in exact sciences… He was rather boring. As for Rădulescu Motru… he was not very much in favor with the students. Nestor was his assistant. It may be that his module didn’t have much of an appeal itself. Vianu did appeal, he had very good students around him. Alexandru Dima, Edgar Papu… he was Vianu’s student. (…)
So, at Drăguş, the evening meeting with Gusti went on till ten o’clock in the evening, and then we had our own meetings. There was the castle at Sâmbăta and Eugen Ionescu was there, as well as other writers who stayed at the castle for the summer to work. And after the meetings with Gusti we either went to Sâmbăta or put up at the place of one of us for our meetings. We had coffees, we had performances given by Mac Constantinescu… Mrs. Brăiloiu was there as well with her funny tricks, her gramophone… I can’t remember whether Costin was at Drăguş too… Well, so, at a given moment Gusti found out about all that. We had fun… you cannot imagine how much we enjoyed ourselves. And Gusti found out about these night meetings and wanted to join us. He was intrigued. Let me tell you what we imagined once. Dr. Mănăilă came there and he had a car and so did Presbeanu, Gusti’s assistant. And Mănăilă said, let’s go to Braşov. And we packed inside two cars, I think there were twenty of us, well…! Maybe not twenty but still, about fourteen or fifteen as I live and breathe. We reached Braşov in the morning, a waiter stood outside… it was almost seven in the morning… and when he saw us coming out of the car and there was no end to it… We went inside and had coffee and one of us came with the idea, let’s send Gusti a postcard. So said so done. By noon we had got back, and surprisingly enough the postcard arrived pretty quickly. When Gusti received it we were having lunch. He was dumbfounded. He couldn’t figure out where it was sent from, how it had the time to be written, posted and received. And I think it was after this that he wanted to participate in our meetings. But, you know, him being there, the charm of it was lost, because everyone would check themselves, would be less expansive in front of him. So that he was disappointed and would not give it another try.
Did he ever bring his wife there?
No, he was not married. But look, Mrs. Brăiloiu, for instance, was very nice and she grew accustomed to that sort of life. (…)
At Drăguş I focused on ethnography and afterwards it remained my main concern. We didn’t use this language all the time, I mean this word. It was all about social life and economic, spiritual and other manifestations, there was no such term as ethnography or ethnographic phenomenon. I’m talking about academic vocabulary. Yet, taking into account the specificity of ethnography and the definition of the ethnographic fact, this category of artistic objects belonged to the ethnographic field. Of course, I studied the sociological aspect as well, because there were some certain differentiations. Not so much at Drăguş, for it was a very homogenous village, but one could detect more obvious differentiations in other villages. Still this was the case for Drăguş as well, functions of age, civil status, economic status and so on.
Did you take any course in ethnography, for instance with Densuşianu or anyone else?
No. there was nothing of the sort in Bucharest. I, for one, received guidance from Chelcea, but that was later. There was no ethnography chair in Bucharest. Densuşianu did folklore. Mehedinţi did geography, with interspersed ethnographic elements, but it was far from the real thing, for this is sociology. This is how Gusti’s school took it, as social life. There was no question of it. Only later, when I began working at the Museum…
Was it with Vianu that you took your university degree in aesthetics?
No, Vianu was lecturer at Gusti’s chair, the university degree had to be taken with Gusti. But one could choose a subject matter in aesthetics. You took your exam with Gusti, but the topic was in aesthetics. I did something on the social function of art, so I put in a share of sociology as well. This is how I reconciled both partied. Why did I do philosophy? I would have preferred the medical school, but my parents wouldn’t let me do it for they said it was too difficult and I was too weak. And the right thing they did. Then I thought of the MusicAcademy, I played the piano and I loved music a lot, I still do. And I failed, because is was not as simple as that, for one to come from Galaţi and take the exam. One had first to take preparatory lessons with somebody in the Academy. And it was for the better, ‘cause I couldn’t have gone too far with that. And then I applied to the Faculty of philosophy because I was… don’t laugh… obsessed with one problem: knowledge of the world. I needed to be enlightened as to the universe and the world. At 15 I had lost faith in God. Maybe that was why. The idea behind my with to enter the Medical School was the same, it was, to my mind, a school leading the student to explanations of original, basic phenomena. Besides, philosophy can give one a general overview. I mean, this wish of mine was bigger that the actual capacity. You can yearn for something even though you’re not able to have it. So it was with the piano, so with philosophy. I would have done better it I took French. But I thought it was too easy. I graduated highschool in Galaţi, the orthodox highschool, and I had an exceptional teacher. And I knew so many things that faculty came as no surprise to me, it brought nothing new. I said to myself, it there is nothing in here for me to learn… I took philosophy for my degree and then became a teacher. Of course I didn’t like it not being in Bucharest. I would commute from Bucharest to Râmnicu-Sărat, now to Piteşti. While I was in faculty we went to live in Bucharest. And it was then that the Institute for Social Research was established.
But that was not before 1939.
I graduated in 1930, I believe, but it took some time before I became a teacher, for the degree exam was only organized two years later and it was not until 1935 that I managed to get a chair by repartition. It was the very time when the philosophy chairs were established. They hadn’t existed before. They set up philosophy chairs in highschools in order to offer something to poor graduates in Philosophy. And so they distributed us. I was substitute teacher in Galaţi and then, for two and a half years, in Râmnicu Sărat. Meanwhile, the Institute for Social Research was established and they wanted us there, those of us who had made the monographs. But it was only a short-term happiness, it lasted for about six months and it was annulled that very autumn. (…) We were transferred according to possibilities. I ended up at the Ministry of Education.
Were you still there under the Iron Guardists?
Yes, with Herseni. And then, since Mănăilă needed more black coats to work at the newly started population statistics, the census and other statistics, he convoked all those who had been transferred in Bucharest. I worked for the Statistics Office till 1945. I even obtained a statistician’s certificate. I was in the census of the public servants. There was this fellow, engineer Miasnicov, who had also been a monographer and was now in charge with this census of the public servants and he gathered a small team and saw this work through. It was interesting in a way. And after 1945 I came to the PopularArt Museum who had then a new manager, Mircea Nădejde. I don’t know if you’ve heard of him, he was professor Oprescu’s assistant. Tzigara-Samurcaş retired in ’45. As a matter of fact the was already pensioned off, he was old, but that’s when he quit work. And Mircea Nădejde was appointed in his place. He knew me, he knew I had worked with Gusti and transferred me to the Museum. And that’s where I stayed until retirement time. At the time the Museum had its location by the highway, in the red building, which now belongs to the Party’s Museum. But the building was not finished and only a hall was functional. The NationalMuseum, which was founded by Tzigara-Samurcaş, included sections of archeology and ethnography and a picture gallery, as it was the NationalMuseum for Art and Archeology. Then it split and art and archeology were organized separately, and so the PopularArt Museum was established. Which was opened and continued to exist in that building till 1950 or ’51, and then moved to Calea Victoriei. Do you know where? In that small palace, the Ştirbei palace. Then the ArtsMuseum was set up, the big one, and popular art stayed at Ştirbei. Now it’s the GlasswareMuseum.
… And one year later the professor calls me and says: ‘You pass the library on to someone else, I need people for the field’. This was the spring of 1934. Twelve employees of the institution were sent then to lead student teams. I was trusted with Ţara Oaşului, without personal preferences being taken into consideration. And so, the spring of 1934 I ended up in Moişeni, Ţara Oaşului.
Was it the first time you went there?
It was the first time in the area and the first time I was given such a task. The first campaign was an attempt at a more thorough guidance, focused on research and on practical activities. It also had to do with statistics concerning the population, the economical situation and so on. We studied, for instance, the mobility of the population in the interval of a hundred years, births, deaths, marriages and all that…
Did you use the kinship line method?
No, we used the church registers, which kept a strict evidence at Moişeni. We did only Moişeni. We also used the kinship line, but the emphasis was laid on the general mobility of the population. Then all kinds of professions, their status, the social life, folklore, music, fairy-tales, dances and so on and so forth. That is, the whole range of manifestations. A large scope to be covered; and we worked a lot at counting up the needs, elaborating the plan, involving the peasants into the action. Together with the team, which also included para-military youngmen, there were around a hundred people in one group, when needed. We worked in accordance with the specificity of the village. It first struck me as a strange place. Ţara Oaşului of that time is different from today’s Ţara Oaşului. The news was spread after the religious service, when the crowd was gathered in front of the church. When we arrived there, on Sunday morning, we made up a small list including our names and intentions. We sent it to the priest towards the end of the service.
Was he an Orthodox or a Greek-Catholic priest?
At the time they were Greek-Catholics. And the priest came out in front of the crown and said: ‘Here have come fourteen gentlemen from Bucharest to see us. They want to build roads, they want to build bridges, they want to plant fruit bearing trees, they want to organize socials and many other things. Let’s help them out’. He was from Certeze, a neighboring village, and spoke the region’s dialect. I took pains in understanding him, for there are certain quite obvious language peculiarities. We devised our plan and started to work; among us there was a doctor, a vet, an agronomist and others. I mean they were under- and postgraduates. For the medical part, for instance, there was a last year student, a captain, Rotaru. He had taken the surgery speciality, he had one more year to go, and he was married; his wife was there with him. The village surgery was established in an old wooden house, as they all were at the time… only one of them, o more recent one, was covered with a tile roof and had three rooms.
Didn’t they call the tile ‘ţirip’?
No, no, they called it ‘brickwork’. This is the term, I wrote it down in my research notebooks. ‘Brickwork’, it was called, and also ‘ţegla’. One thing I noticed was that the old main road was so narrow that when two carriages approached one another from different directions, the first one would call out and the other had to withdraw into the nearest yard in order to make way. So our first concern was the road. We asked each and every person whose houses were on the right and left of the road to move their fences four meters back. They all got involved – I still wonder how they agreed to work in mid-summer, it was July, to cut up the trees full of fruit and draw the fences back; it was hard work, very hard work, and we all got involved, the peasants, the team, myself, the para-military young people.
Were the para-military from the village, or did you bring them in a team?
The team was formed there.
Were the young men peasants from the village?
No, we didn’t choose them, they were sent from the county department; there was, among them, a student from Bucharest as well. And the next autumn Gusti came himself for the second campaign.
The same place?
Yes, the same place, we did three campaigns there. In 1937 I worked there for other tasks. The second year I was also in charge of the team from Maramureş, from Cuhea, as it was called at the time, now they call it Bogdan Vodă, Bogdan the Voyvod’s village. And we waited for him at the crossroads link with the present asphalted highway leading to Sighet, at the turn to the valley road, where we had built a bridge thoroughly made of oak and fastened with railway sleepers which we had obtained by permission of the prefect, at my personal request. Ardeleanu was his name. That’s when the administrative building for the prefecture was built as well.
Where was it, in Baia Mare?
No, in Satu Mare. I went to the prefect and I asked him to grant us permission for the sake of our work. And he did that for four sleepers, with which we fastened the bridge. It stood up for fifty years, until two years ago, when they brought it down and built another bridge, a concrete one.
What did you volunteer for?
Both the material and the work. And no sooner had the priest started to speak than a man from the crown stood up and shouted… They were all dressed up, wearing their traditional costumes, it was hot summer time… and he shouted: ‘We have been living here for four hundred years, nobody has so far come to build either roads or bridges around here. We might well live like that for another four hundred years!’ But I had gathered information from here and there, on my way over to Rău river, which is a whirling river, the worst in Ţara Oaşului and it has a mighty flow, especially in the seasons of snow-melting or rain floods, when it can carry with it enormous rocks down its bed to… through the Moişeni and Cuhea villages. I had been told that once a man tried to cross the river with his cart and oxen or wagon and horses and they all got drowned. And I didn’t care to answer that quarrelsome man… but I got an idea of how some people can think.
This is a question of the well-known mentality which has it that ‘the way we’ve lived so far will do…
… from now on as well’. When professor Gusti came, he was accompanied by Emanoil Bucuţă, the head of the state libraries. He was a writer, have you heard of him?
Of course, he issued the Boabe de grâu magazine.
True, a very nice magazine, concerned with literature and arts, especially fine arts. And he had written books, whole volumes, he had some in the press right then; he was a very distinguished and cultivated intellectual, I heard it said about him: ‘when I talk with Bucuţă it’s like talking with Iorga’, and this is some comparison…
He was still working for the Foundation, wasn’t he?
He was the manager of the state libraries. There is an interesting story about him as well, it happened two or three years later… In 1935, and still in the summer time, for we did our campaigns in the summer. He entered the village by car, and the people from Moişeni, led by their mair, welcomed him mounted on white horses.
He was treated like a king or a bishop.
And Gusti was accompanied by a young sociologist from the United States, Philip Mosley, who, attracted by the fame of Gusti’s school, had come to Romania to get to know it and they came to Moişeni by car directly. They drove on a four-kilometre road paved with heavy stones, the same place where four years before a cart could sink in mud up to its axle and four oxen were not enough to pull it out. It was a small portion, the paved one, towards the point where the road joined the highway. And when they reached the bridge they drew the car to a stop and got out of it. The professor asks me: ‘Who made the road we drove on?’ And I say ‘We did it, the team and the peasants’. ‘Then who made the bridge?’ ‘We made that too, the team and the peasants’. ‘Well, he says, that’s a hell of a job you did here!’ ‘Well, I say, we haven’t come to waster our time, we worked. There are still things to be seen.’ Then we went to the village surgery, they took pictures, the photographer from the Foundation had also come with them…
Which one? Was it Berman?
No, it was Dode. Berman had come for the research before. Dode was younger and not as prominent a photographer as Berman, who was one of the best at the time. But he was good, he took pictures here and there and then left for Maramureş. We stayed in the village. But our sociologist took pictures of people who had crowded there, dressed in their garbs. There were plenty of them, the women with bear feet, as they usually are, in the summer, and so are the men even. And at the end he gave me a film, a Laica, I still have half of it, the rest… He was very good, he had top quality instruments. And he went on with his work the next year. Then I had to see to the team from Cuhea as well. I went to them from time to time, for my head-quarters was in Moişeni. At Cuhea I had come to an agreement with the heard of the team that whenever he faced problems he should call for me and I would go. The first contact with the mayoralty, in fact a peasant house: I talked to the mayor sitting on a three-legged chair. No house of culture, no proper mayoralty, not to speak of the school, which functioned in a house as well, no room, no… Otherwise, one or two years before the village had sold two oak woods, 400-500 years old, which were exported to England, where they were to be used as ship wood. The village came out of the bargain with two big hills, or two barren mountains, woodless. And a fund of something like a few hundred thousands lei. They told that to me at the mayoralty. There, after discussions, the idea was to come up with a theoretical as well as practical basis for the action. And one day, while I was receiving the first pieces of information, a few men around told me: ‘You should come to our place next week, by all means!’ It was Tuesday then. ‘Why, what’s happening next week?’ ‘Well, it’ll be a gathering of the godson’. ‘And what happens there?’ And he told me: ‘so and so had 150 pairs of godsons whom he wed and the custom is for the godfather to gather together all his godsons once in his life. And the next Saturday there will be 300 people, that is 150 pairs at his place’. ‘And what happens till then?’ And he told me, I won’t go into details now. of course that stirred my interest immensely; I knew that the wedding custom was a wide-spread Romanian tradition, but I had not expected the phenomenon to have such impetus. At Dragomireşti, a bigger village, still at that time, one family had 450 pairs, that means a life’s job as godfather. To reach up to 450 in 20 years! Which puts you under obligation to baptize and even to wed, if you live to see the day, the children o f the pair you’d wed in the first place.
That takes keeping a calendar and giving up any other activities…
I knew this from Moişeni, that all these godsons, all the pairs must call on the godparents the second of third after Easter with a twist. And that they make some handsome twists, like those for the bride and groom at the wedding. Only they are smaller. They were smaller then than they are now; now they are huge. At the wedding feast the mother-in-law must dance with the twists she receives and yell witty couplets. There are two twists, standing for the bride and groom, and they are bound together with a big beautiful towel and she holds them with her arms above her head and dances alone to the fiddle tune and yells her couplets at the right moments. It takes a sturdy woman to do that, to be able to dance with the twists. Each of them weighs 10 kilos. So she holds 20 kilos up with her arms. That’s impressive.
The interesting thing at Fundul-Moldovei was that it was there that the first theory began to take shape. See? For it was like this: everybody would work from morning to dusk and at night, after dinner was served, everybody would go into the big schoolroom and that’s where discussions would start. With Vulcănescu, with Stahl, with… Georgescu and the like and it was there, that’s what I think, it was there, after long debates, that Gusti’s theory of the frames and manifestations and all that was formulated. Talking would sometimes go on till two o’clock in the morning.
How many months did you stay there?
One month. It was like that in those days, one would stay for one month.
Still, I would be interested in more details about it.
Yes, right, the thing was quite impressive, because we set up meetings with the people and the parsons were on our side, and the village had two churches, one church downhill and one church uphill, and the parson from the church downhill was an educated man, and so we were in all that, we would participate in the mess, in the hora, we were there when there was a wedding, see?, that is the contact was easy to establish. And then you have to keep in mind one thing, that most of the people working there were born in the countryside, you know? Now I can’t tell, I wasn’t psychologically able to realize what my colleagues faced with when asking people difficult questions, but for me it wasn’t hard to collect folklore, see?
Weren’t they frightened by the apparatus… Weren’t they amazed?
No! The only thing that frightened them was the camera. They would not allow us to take pictures of them, for the photograph equaled the shadow and with them the shadow means the possibility of getting killed. Not only at Fundul-Moldovei, but also during the first research programs, this thing with the shadow… with the photographs, was a problem. Then there were all sorts of aspects… when at first we met at the dinner table, the atmosphere was friendly, fellow-like, quite pleasant, all kinds of epigrams were being made up, you know? And there was a geographer whose name was Popescu-Spineni, and he was the secretary of the faculty… And Fundul-Moldovei spread over a very large area; beside this village, the village proper, with its two sides, up and down hill, there was another village that belonged to it, which was called Botoş. And beyond the border of Botoş there started the huţul area, that is you passed Botoş and entered another area, of the huţuli, that’s it. And it went on over the mountains, up to Cârlibaba, Iacobeni-Cârlibaba, and some of us, studying the geography of the place – Popescu-Spineni had to come up with a geographical description, didn’t he? – he went then to Cârlibaba, where he met a man who spoke four or five languages, among which Austrian, he had joined the army in Austria, he spoke Yiddish, he spoke Ukrainian, he spoke Romanian, he probably spoke Hungarian as well.
And then he came back and told the story at a meeting, for each of us had to present a report of what he or she had done, had found out. And he made a report of this prodigy, this polyglot man he’d met. So that an anecdote was made for him: that he met a man speaking five languages and he could only manage to communicate with that man through sign language. I’m telling you an anecdote for you to understand what the atmosphere was like. Otherwise we led quite a sober life there. Generally the food was good, because they made their stock, they had a kitchen, cooks brought there for us, and they would kill pigs, calves, there was no problem with that, see? We drank a sort of lemonade. This lemonade was kept in bottles, bottles with glass corks, which you pressed in and it slid inside. And this was an Austrian remnant as well, you know? They were called cracăre. I mean, when anyone would get tired, when they had worked too much, they would go to one of these inns and have some cracăre. The village had a mining enterprise, yes. Coal was extracted there, on a hill.
Was it a village property?
I don’t think it was… I’ve no idea whom it belonged to. So that was it, this was the thing with Fundul-Moldovei. Anyway, Stahl is the one who knows best among those who still live today.
Was Bernea there as well?
No, Bernea was not there. I think Bernea only came to Drăguş. Stahl would know best to tell you about how the doctrine was elaborated, for this would be the most important thing, the was this Fundul-Moldovei moment was theoretically configured. Then Gusti was a very good strategist. A very good strategist, he had his way of attracting people he wanted, you know? And there were two, in fact three music folklorists at the time. There was Brăiloiu, who ran the archives of the Composers’ Society and had had a French education, there was Breazul, Georgescu Breazul, who had also set up the folklore archives at the Ministry of Education and there was also… What, haven’t you heard of him?
No, you haven’t, he had been trained in Germany. There was a sort of rivalry between Brăiloiu and Breazul, who was at the MusicAcademy. Brăiloiu stayed there for two weeks and then he went away. He was probably engaged in something else, and then Gusti brought Breazul. He brought some apparatus himself, but I no longer collaborated with Breazul because I had developed ties with Brăiloiu, friendly ties, and I liked the way he worked, and he was an interesting man, very clever and…
I believe Brăiloiu was more of a magnet for the young people…
He was indeed, he certainly was to be that at Composers’ Society, where he brought together a lot of people. Let’s keep to the Fundu-Moldovei episode.
Did he have a working schedule, established from the very beginning, or did he leave it for everyone’s consciousness as a researcher?
The questionnaires hadn’t been devised yet, and after they were, the sections were established according to frames and manifestations.
Herseni being there, what was his concern, what preoccupied him there, what interested him?
Herseni, I think, was in charge of the social organization and things like that. He was still at the beginning, not yet among the prominent figures…
He was younger…
He was younger indeed, that is the front-ranking ones were Stahl, Vulcănescu, Mitu Georgescu, Nicu Argintescu for the arts issues, who else was there? There was, of course, Milcu…
Was there any communication between these various professions? I can’t see the connection, that is what the biologic anthropologist could communicate with the folklorist…
Each one minded his own business, I mean if we refer to the biologic anthropologists, they had plenty of work to do, they did all these measurements and also cured the sick, see? But Rainer was an open-minded person and a very clever man, that is he was not really interested, I mean he was interested in what we were doing there, for determining the anthropologic type, but he took part in the discussions, probably more than Brăiloiu himself. The others had already been part of several monographs, some had been there from the very beginning. Vlădescu Răcoasa, for instance; but those were less important. Because those who had worked for the anterior monographs had had their running in. The new ones grew stuck, so to speak, to the others, see? I mean this is how the nucleus was formed, which developed afterwards. And then, starting from this nucleus, the theory was formulated, and after the theory was outlined, each section tried to devise its questionnaires, to make clear its own problems.
The idea of the questionnaire was already floating around, hence the necessity of it…
Yes, indeed, I think it was a necessity, but it was not a questionnaire of the type used by Densuşianu or Haşdeu. It was not putting together a number of questions, which were given to people to fill in. The questionnaire was only an aide-memoire.
A guide for discussion.
A guide for discussion, indeed, as the whole discussion developed with the interview, it was all based on participation; I mean, suppose you went to the hora or to a wedding, see? Then you would put down everything that happened there. Maybe the idea hadn’t come up that you had to inquire on the meaning of facts as well. But at any rate you had to take a note of whatever you might have seen and only afterwards to ask them about the way things were done; how you deal with this, how you deal with that, especially for economic issues. Then the social structure was of utmost importance, because it was one of those villages structured on kinship relations. You had to take one of these families and draw its genealogical tree…
The kinship line.
Right, the kinship line…We went uphill to see one of those families, the Andromicescus. They were one of the noblest families and had this house, fortress-like, a house with consolidated palisade. Around the house there was this field, this territory, and his house was surrounded by a fence and besides the big house there was also a smaller house where the senior lived; what I’m saying is that this was real, a quite challenging reality: merely taking notes was itself tempting. Afterwards, researchers discovered a lot of other houses of this sort, with consolidated palisade, in Hunedoara, Haţeg.
It is there that the Village Museum comes from, I believe.
So it is, yes, it comes from Haţeg, but the one from Bucovina was more beautiful; this one, Andromicescu’s, was superb in point of architecture. They built in firtree, in Bucovina that is, but in Maramureş it’s all oak. It was a very good village, that one, a village of well-settled people, who had come their way down from Austria, see? And there was a dance there called arcanu, and this arcanu was a sort of sârba which the team from Fundu-Moldovei danced in Vennice, for Franz Joseph’s anniversary. And the one who had led the team was still alive, his name was Ţipău, and he told me all about it, how it was, how things were in Moldova. It’s all in the archives of the Institute for Folklore now.
If the Archives of the Institute still exist…
They do, because that one was given away, the archive of the institute, but the archive of musical folklore was not lost. Because when the war broke out, Brăiloiu had a very clever attendant, who came from Oltenia, his name was Dumitru Petcu. Besides, he was a singer and he would contact singers on the Bucharest market and bring them for recordings. As about Brăiloiu, he had fallen in love with collecting icons on glass. Icons on glass painted by one fellow called Savu Moga. And he gathered a big collection of Moga’s icons and…
Was Petcu at Drăguş too?
Yes, he was there too, and Petcu gathered them all in one room. The Brăiloiu collection is in the BruckenthalMuseum, Mrs. Brăiloiu sold it to the BruckenthalMuseum. When the war and the evacuation came about, instead of evacuating the archives, just as in every other institution, Brăiloiu sent the entire folklore archive and the cylinders and some boxes to the Gorj county and hid them in the hay barn of Petcu Dumitru’s house. No one came across them, no one made their way to them or laid hands on them, and when we set up the Institute for Folklore in 1949, we took a truck and brought the boxes back.
Did Petcu stay there and keep a watchful eye on them?
Petcu stayed home.
Translated by Sorana Corneanu
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