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Items with hundred faces

1.12.2005 -15.2.2006




Items with hundred faces

A broom held in hand or placed across the door or maybe held by the first masked person in the carnival parade. Than there is a buinÁ that is ridden in the St. John’s Night, a child bound to a stick and turned three times next to the fire, boiling of the chain that holds a pan above the cooking fire, a comb that combs breastfeeding mother’s chest, covered mirror in the times of pain and agony, plough put underneath the bed as a cure for impotence and sterility, a plough that ploughs water and calls for rain, riddle and scissors used to find a thief, a sickle thrown into the air to stop the fight and a knife that cuts the bottom of a leech...

How to understand and explain those traditions of using home appliances and utensils?
Items in an ethnographic museum are usually interpreted and observed regarding their practical use, in the context of work and physical labour. Nevertheless, those items are more than that, because of their symbolic meaning that puts them into the centre of the more interesting actions. They are being given and presented; they are passed from one hand to another as they should be, according to the tradition. They make life stories in the signs of their use, they are given emotional meaning and aesthetic value, and they become elements of identification (the iconography of saints, occupations and skills). They are merging with beliefs and magic that are necessary elements of rituals and their covetable usefulness.

The exhibition that is planned as a trip within the Museum of national history in Fontanabona represents complex episodes in life of some of the old national tools and utensils used by peasants and some appliances used at home. They were used in therapeutic and witchcraft spells and rituals, protective and aggressive actions. These are articles of a symbolic act that are weaved into magical acts within the calendar circle and during one’s life. It calls for deep structures of the history and national culture: The knowledge within making a connection, the value of invocation, enjoying the metaphor, the power of real and tangible symbols.

Gian Paolo Gri