Sunday, 20 October 2013

Etara, the water-powered crafts' village

The smoke, Etara.
Etara (Etar) is an ethnographic village located 8 kms south from Gabrovo, up the river Yantra.

Although officially an open air museum, the whole complex is a vivid hybrid of craftsmen & artisans at work in their shelters (you may watch them, ask them questions, and buy their ready produce right there on the spot); traditional food kiosks & restaurants; and a whole street of traditional 'National Revival' style houses.
Entry to the street of traditional houses.

Each house on the said street is a mini museum depicting how traditional homes of various craftsmen (ironmongers, tanners, silversmiths, carpenters, weavers, to mention a few) looked like back in the day - typically, with working spaces & shops downstairs, and sleeping quarters upstairs.

At the end of the said street there is a large hotel, built in the same style, offering the option to sleep at the museum. If you are not lucky to secure a room in this hotel do not worry as there are several other guesthouses in Etara, outside the ethnographic complex.

Some of the craftsmen shelters.
All the machinery of the artisans is run by water power - the old-fashioned way. The machines are made mainly of wood and iron, and you are welcome to observe their mechanics, e.g. how a water stream spins a large wheel that connects to a wood carver's lathe, or how a saw, all by itself, slices through a long log. 

Lazar Donkov, the initiator of Etara crafts' village.
Etara crafts village was initiated back in the 1960s by the local artist and ethnographer Lazar Donkov. Although it was intended to demonstrate the traditional ways of the past, it becomes relevant nowadays, as the tendencies towards self-sustainability, zero carbon footprint, small scale production increase. It is a good place to get some ideas, not only to learn about the past.

Several times a year, the village hosts popular festivals & culture events. Meanwhile, outside the crowded days one may equally appreciate the village's beautiful settings, inhale the smells of smoke (among other things, prunes are being smoke-dried here to make the Gabrovian chocolate); wood; leaves and flowers; and listen to the ever present water. 

Watch water at work in Etara:

 Spinning a power wheel.

Sawing a log.

Doing the laundry. 

(The latter one could as well be a spring water jacuzzii).
Text, photos and videos (c) Agne Drumelyte, 2013.

1 comment:

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