Ethnographic Museum

Permanent ethnographic exposition consist of three separate thematic units with the titles:

Man and Soil
Man and Material
Man and Clothing

Traditional culture of Slovakia, which was characterized by a rural character with prevalence of agricultural production, was not closed whole. During its historical development it was influenced by many different factors. The way of life of indigenous inhabitants is represented in the permanent exhibitions of the museum by rare examples of material culture from the time of Slavs coming to the territory of Slovakia. Archaeological findings from the Great Moravia to the birth of the early-feudal Ugrian state, attributes of the ruling class – feudal or church – are presented in the confrontation of the power and life of a simple man. Contemporary realities document the emergence of a new cultural and economic phenomenon – medieval towns as centers of craft production and trade, as well as guild associations, which were replaced by manufactories at the end of the 18th and the first half of the 19th century.

The expositions were open to the public in the years 1974 – 1975.


Man and Soil

The basic idea of exposure is occupation in the past. For centuries, agriculture has been the main occupation and the basic source of livelihood of the rural population in the territory of Slovakia. This section presents the tools that were used for soil tillage (plow, hoe, spade, harrow, basket for dung) and have remained virtually unchanged for centuries.

The exposition continues with harvest, as the culmination of the peasant's agronomial year. It presents tools that were used in harvesting - sickles, scythes, rakes, small special anvils, whetstones – called „osly" stored in wooden and horned cases – called „oselníky"...

The celebration of the end of harvesting works and collection of crop was harvest festival „Dožinky", which was connected with handing over the harvest wreath to the farmer, which symbolized thanks for the harvest and ceremonial hospitality.

As in this and other parts of the exposition, the museum's objects are complemented by large-scale photographs - the works of prominent photographers, especially Karol Plicka and Pavel Socháň, and examples of folk literature (oral tradition), in which our ancestors often expressed their life experiences and view of life.

The second most widespread source of livelihood of the Slovak population was breeding of livestock with a focus on breeding in stables and shepherding. The mountain farming, which was formed by Wallachian colonization, consisted in grazing sheep on mountain pastures. This farming conditioned the development of eg. wooden mountain farming dishes (a wooden container with ears, which was used for drinking called „črpáky", tools for scooping up and mixing for milk or for whey of sheep´s milk called „varechy", molds for sheep-cheese, etc.), leather clothing accessories (belts, peasant´s shoes, shepherd bags, etc.) and metal objects (special hatchets called „valašky" as a symbol of shepherds, bells, belt buckles, tin-plated shepherds whip handles, etc.).

A peculiar part of the shepherd culture were some musical instruments, especially slovak folk wood wind musical instrument called „fujara" (entered in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2005), several types of shepherd´s whistles or tiny metal instrument „drumbľa". In this part of the exposition the visitor has the opportunity to see – in addition to the above-mentioned manifestations of shepherd culture – also various tools, mainly related to the breeding of cattle and poultry.

Careful storage of the crops as well as their preservation and protection is presented in the subsequent part of the exposition. A variety of traps have protected the crop from rodent or bird damage.

The end of the exhibition is devoted to domestic production. During the relative calm, without working in the field, men were engaged in woodworking related to the production and repair of tools, interior items. They most used wood, straw, wicker, leather, metal parts made by craftsman – blacksmith, who was missing in any village. Women were involved in the processing of textile fibers, the production of textiles and clothing components for domestic production, for which plant and animal fibers were used. In these activities they used several specialized tools – distaffs, spindles, spinning wheels, looms and many others.


Man and material

Wood is one of the oldest materials from which man made utility and artistic objects.

From the use of various fragments of branches or roots without any previous processing (sticks, hooks, forked branches, stools), all the ways of wood processing are presented in the showcases, namely chiselling (plates, troughs, saltcellars, wooden containers for milk and milk products called „geletky", but also boats), splitting, grating or cuting (pistons, trenchers, barrels, kegs, or vineyard vats), carving (gingerbread forms, forms for the production of blueprints, forms for butter and cheese), turning on the turntables (distaffs, spinning wheels, whip handles and many other products).

A part of the exposition devoted to wood is complemented by large pieces of wooden items, such as special oil press called „stupy", one-piece boat or beehive.

Another raw material for the production of various utility items was woody, but at the same time flexible parts of bushes and various plants.

From wicker, leaf, straw, cane, roots and corn husk, people weaved baskets of various sizes, shapes and utilization, bags, suitcases and other utility and decorative items.

The basis of knitting techniques in basketry was based on the principle of warp and weft, which very much resembles traditional methods of processing flax and hemp.

For the production of clothing were used mainly domestic production fibers, namely plants – flax and hemp, and animal – wool. Since the end of the 19th century, cotton fibers have been added.

The most frequent expositions are fiber processing: weaving on looms, weaving on the form („zapästky" to protect the wrists and secure the wide ends of the men's shirt sleeves, gloves), weaving on cards or on small plate (various strips, laces), knitting techniques, bobbin lace, including complex textile applications.

Clay pottery products are characterized by a characteristic red-brown fracture and a coarse-grained structure. They were used in the household to store food, to prepare, serve, or carry food over longer distances.

Of the many pottery sites in Slovakia,in the exposition are the most expressive: Pukanec, Beluj, Nová Baňa, Brehy, Važec, Hybe, Trstená, Slovenské Pravno, Prievidza, Krupina, Divín, Šivetice, Halíč, Sušany, Hrnčiarske Zálužany, Pozdišovce, Bardejov and more.

In addition to traditional pottery production, a new type of ceramics has been present in Slovakia since the 16th century. It is called faience, majolica.

This ceramic was characterized by tin – lead glaze of white, rarely blue and yellow color.

In addition to the original haban products, the exhibition also presents areas focused on their production: Sobotište, Dechtice, Veľké Leváre, Košolná, Stupava, Smolenice, Boleráz, Dobrá Voda, Trenčín, Malacky and Modra.

Metals – this part of the exposition represents the use of production from iron, exceptionally from silver and copper alloys in traditional culture. In addition to objects of everyday use, which were the specialty of blacksmiths, people also made traditional metal jewelry - buckles, clasps, rings and similar products. Sheet-metal bells and bells made by casting into forms, for cattle and sheep, were produced by experts – bell-makers.

In the folk environment glass products were used only occasionally and rather rarely because of their price and fragility. However, the exhibition presents various types of hollow glass - bottles, jugs, glasses, glasses with a high narrow neck for drinking alcohol called „pijačky", as well as glass irons called „hladidlá" or containers for holy water. Interesting products include representative guild bottles, often decorated with etching techniques.

In the village environment, mainly softer types of stone, such as sandstone, were processed. Although used in many areas (folk architecture – gates, stairs, water wells, utility items needed in the farmsteads – handmade small grain mills called „žarnovy", millstones, stone sculptures – crosses standing at roadside, statues of saints), tombstones are presented at the end of the exhibition. They were chosen for their monumentality, simplicity of shapes and aesthetically impressive relief decoration.


Man and clothing

Clothing is one of the most distinctive phenomena of traditional culture in Slovakia. In addition to protecting the human body from external influences, it also fulfilled an important sign function. According to the garment, it was possible to determine the wearer's residence, his age, condition, but also his profession, religion, social status in the rural community, and also the opportunity for which he dressed.

The exhibition presents basic types of clothing. At the beginning is presented basic clothing of rural population. It shows the influence of the environment in which it was worn.

The mannequins can be seen wearing clothing from the mountainous and southern regions of Slovakia. The aforementioned impacts of the natural environment are also documented in work clothes, which was also influenced by the type of work in which they were worn.

For example, woodkeepers wore „zápästky" that firmed their wrists and also used to secure the wide ends of the men's shirt sleeves.

An apron has become part of the craftsman's workwear. In some cases, in addition to thicker canvas, leather was also used to make them. Holiday clothing represents the largest part of museum collections and thanks to its variety it attracts the most attention of visitors.

It was during the manufacture of its individual components that the bearers placed great emphasis on decoration, color and material selection. He was often influenced by contemporary fashion. On the festive clothing was concentrate decoration with various textile techniques. The application of individual techniques did depend on the used material.

Thicker, home-made fabrics created space for the application of decoration techniques, in which it was necessary to subtract the individual threads of the underlying fabric.

Traditional hairstyles of both single and married women are part of the clothing exhibition, as they are inextricably linked to traditional clothing. Exposure continues with differences in clothing caused by influences such as the age difference of individual inhabitants of the region, their social status ... The end of the exhibition belongs to clothing that represents a certain period in the life of a person, whether it is wedding clothing, from western, central and eastern Slovakia, or clothing of widowed women.


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Where to find us?

Ethnographic Museum (Etnografické múzeum)
Malá hora 2
Martin, Slovakia

e-mail: snmmartin@snm.sk