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folklore and architecture

Zdiar architecture

Until the end of the 19th century one-roomed wooden houses were built. The oldest buildings were used only seasonally. They were shepherds', loggers' or colliers' log huts with inner fire places, one door, and lacking a ceiling or win­dows. They were simultaneously used as stables for young cattle or sheep. When their owners start­ed to use them the whole year round, they added a little window or ceiling making the buildings more habitable. The corner where the cattle use to stand later became the basis for a separately built stable. The original buildings were progressively recon­structed and adapted for tourism after the First World War. One-wing buildings were changed to two or more winged houses for the sake of obtain­ing more space and the possibility to lodge the tourists. The builders of such houses found inspi­ration of Polish tourist regions, for instance in Za­kopane. The original architectural style of the community was partially disturbed only after the Second World War when conservationists actually neglected the preservation of the precious old log houses in Zdiar. In spite of it, the community pre­served its prevailing original character with a min­imum representation of the modern brick houses. The four most valuable groups of folk buildings were in 1977 declared the monument reserve of folk architecture. Three-roomed wooden houses, making together with farmsteads, an enclosed atri­um houses with a central courtyard are typical ex­amples. Wooden houses with characteristic joints painted in blue and with folk ornaments can be seen here. Even some more recent buildings ob­serve some elements of the traditional architec­ture, such as the favourite stylish restaurant of Zdiarsky dom. 

Zdiar is famous for its folk arts and traditions. The time when the villagers put on their folk cos­tumes on Sundays or feast days continued until not so long ago. Today they can be seen only at the shows of the folk ensembles or in the Museum called Zdiarska izba. Opportunities to put on won­derful folk costumes of the Goral people and to take part in a staged traditional wedding are very popular among tourists.

The folk costumes of Zdiar

The Zdiar folk costume belongs to Goral eth­nicity. The community benefited of being located on the important trade route between Spisska Bela and Novy Targ in the sense that they could always purchase special fabrics used for the de­tails of their folk costumes that have made them distinct among the poorer costumes of other Goral communities. A typical part of the Zdiar fe­male folk costume is the so called rant'uch - a straight belt of thinly woven linen of very fine flaxen threads with inter-woven patterns of a thick cotton thread. The married women dressed their heads with caps set high on their head crowns inserted with pads around which the hair was pleated. The cap was decorated by glittering and colourful strings. When worn outside it was covered by a scarf giving the women of Zdiar their typical head-dress. Men of Zdiar usually wore trousers called portky, a jacket of home­made roughly woven woolen fabric, a fur vest and a shirt of home-made thick linen. Especially the lamb vests called lambaky are abundantly em­broidered by ornaments. The masculine Goral folk costumes are easily recognisable by a typical Goral hat called kapelusok. It is always dressed with a piece of eagle's feather.

In 1925 the first folk ensemble was founded. Its activities were perpetuated by four men of Zdi­ar, Matej Pitonak, Jan Pitonak, Jozef Pitonak, and Vojtech Sabansky who founded the folk group called Zdiaran. Progressively they became one of the outstanding folk groups active in Slovakia. They present original songs, dances, customs and shepherds's plays of sub Tatra provenance in nu­merous big folk festivals throughout Slovakia and abroad. Also the folk wood-carvers of Zdiar are widely respected for their art. In the same year when the first folk ensemble was founded the fa­mous Czech photographer and expert in folk arts, Karol Plicka visited Zdiar. Besides unique pho­tographs of the simple countrymen in the authentic setting of the charming Zdiar landscape he also made here many images of the lyrical shots for his famous film The Singing Land.

 Text ©: doc. RNDr. Ján Lacika, CSc

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