The International Village Shop is a growing trans-local network of cultural producers who set up trading places for goods with strong local connections.
No Corruption Holzspan Laptoptaschen
No Corruption Holzspan Laptoptaschen, 2011.
Woven laptop cases
story geschichte verhaal historia
By Roza El-Hassan:
"Thousands of years of documentation testify, that braiding is a
more ancient skill than pottery. In Hungary, people living around
flood-and-swamplands have been interested in basket weaving for a
long time. Alongside willow, Hungarian native plants are also used,
such as rush plant, common cattail, corn plant, rye-straw,
wheat-straw, skinned hazelnut and black willow.
In 2009 I visited the workshop of a rural Roma master of basket weaving, József Kakas. In Kisbajom, a village located south of Lake Balaton, I discovered materials of sallow and willow branches that had been cooked and collected in bundles. Once I touched them, I realised how unusual and supple they were in comparison to the materials used in sculpture and industrial production. I discovered how easy it was to conceive sturdy surfaces and strong objects from this otherwise light-weight material and how objects braided from wicker were surprisingly economic in their material requirements in comparison to other materials deriving from wood, an increasingly costly resource.
The age-old technique of basket weaving made the preparation of these wicker objects particularly interesting. Traditionally, Hungarian peasants used to weave along the banks of river, yet following the 19th century urbanisation of the working classes, weaving became a speciality of nomad Roma communities. To this day, Roma women spend the early days of spring in the vicinity of rivers, collecting strips for weaving from varied tree types, including som, hazelnut and willow. In shades of red, green and yellow, the unprocessed cuts are appropriated for domestic use, such as a simple basket resembling a bird’s nest. In these rich and dynamic patterns, I often identify Roma identity and self-expression.
A long-term unemployed master of basket weaving, stood in front of his turquoise house in Tiszadob, examining the materials I brought to him. He was handling and exploring their properties as if they were delicate, valuable objects and noted, that he would be glad to plant wicker trees in his garden. We looked around the surrounding plains and indeed there was space, many kilometres of available land in sight.
Szendrôlád is a village positioned in the mountainous woodlands of north-eastern Hungary. Here the Roma weavers practice an ancient technique unique to all of Europe, known as wood-chip braiding. It consists of slicing black pieces of wood to ribbon-like strips, from which baskets are thus spun. Initially, these were the debris of the woodlands. While thick tree logs were used for industry and as fuel for fire, members of the local Romungro Roma communities were allowed to collect twigs no thicker than five centimetres. The Romungro sliced these to thin strips, which came to define the appearance of their objects. To the best of my knowledge, Szendrôlád is the last village where the technique of wood-chip braiding was still practiced in 2009 by a few senior practitioners. During the next two years, as a result of the workshops I conducted there, 20 young people acquired the skill. One of the key missions of this project is to help preserve local heritage.
According to the elder basket weaver Imre Kálló, just decades ago entire families made their living through this trade. As a result, we are at this stage also working on re-establishing a co-operative.
In addition to the classical shapes characteristic of Szendrôlád, the original round-shaped “kavas” basket is also a simple beautiful form: fitting for modern interiors as a container for fruit, CDs and magazines.
For two years I worked in rural communities and in Budapest at the same time. I was researching traditional skills and refining them in form and function (e.g. by designing new handles for traditional wicker baskets) and simultaneously developing new eco-friendly designs, such as protective covers for electric goods, with internationally renowned designers and curators."
producer produzent producent productor
A collaboration between Roza El-Hassan with Rami al Dinni. Robert Racz, Andrea Keserii, Zoltan Kics, Zoltan Racz, Erzsebet Nyitry, Andrea Rezmuves from the village Szendrülad, Hungary.