Dana Mladin

Stupid goes to Horezu…

Reading Time: 7 minutes

I’m a big fan of souvenirs. A free translation to this would be that I like to buy all the nonsense in the world! J Even if they are not useful, I enjoy some things just like a child enjoys toys.

So I stop in all the fairs and in all the souvenir shops in the world. In fact, on my rare trips to on Prahova Valley, I stop at one of the “commercial galleries” on the edge of the highway… I enjoy the experience.

However, I know how to appreciate a traditional fair, with things handmade by craftsmen. And I always find something to buy. Thus, beyond my joy of owning that object, I feel that I appreciate the work of some people, who maybe live from this art.

Many years ago, on a tour of the country, I stopped at Corund, in Transylvania. I bought all sorts of things, I also went to the house of some local artists, to see them at work. I still have the items purchased then.

This summer, the trips with my colleagues took me through Valcea County, so I couldn’t wait to stop in Horezu! Ceramic pots, the famous cock – their brand, traditional fair, I had heard so much that I could not deprive myself of the joy of a visit there.

I was deeply disappointed! That was my feeling once I arrived among the stalls of the merchants. Dozens of kitsch objects Made in China, big dwarfs, but also small dwarfs J, bizarre animals, plastic flowers, wooden things for foot massage, big dwarfs and some small ones, dick meters, baskets, ashtrays, pots and jugs, giant spoons, chess games, dwarfs too big and not at all small, wooden swords, osier baskets, straw hats, magnets, fur slippers, but also dwarfs! Big and small.

And, of course, so many dwarfs needed a Snow White too…

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The artist must have been in… quite a difficult state when he made this, because, poor thing, it could be the ideal Boogeyman for children. Or a scarecrow in the cornfield. It’s quite dear, dear thing… 150 lei (more than 30 euros)!

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I was very surprised when I found out that even some of the “traditional dishes, made of Horezu ceramics”, are made in China. You have to be very careful what you buy, if you want an authentic item!

A gentleman who sells interesting products, made by craftsmen from all over the country, is very upset about the situation and says that we, the tourists, are to blame. By buying fakes, we only encourage their production and marketing, to the detriment of the authentic ones.

Okay, okay, I get it, it is one thing when the dwarfs in my mind decide to buy a garden dwarf made in China, but it is another thing when I really want a Horezu bowl and I don’t know which one is an original and which one is China-made.

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“Look on their bottoms” – the gentleman teaches me. Our craftsmen engrave their names on them.

Good job! – I think, while buying from him a simple, beautiful vessel, on the bottom of which there is nothing inlaid, but it has a label with a stamp glued on it. Damn, what a dilemma, where does this fit??? J

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Then he shows me a corner he made, out of anger, probably. To convince all customers to open their eyes when buying ceramics from the fair.

I leave with a bitter taste (and no, it’s not from the “lead enamel” above). I don’t even know if it’s funny or something to cry about. I had a lot of expectations and I found something completely different…

I think it would be worth maintaining/controlling/sustaining some areas in this country where it could be a pleasure for you to stop, to admire the work of the locals and, of course, to buy authentic products. Is it that hard?

That’s it, I am upset. I take my toys and I leave. Not too many or I will go bankrupt, judging by the price of one piece… (But at least it will be for a noble cause, because these peasants that I like are made by an uncle, a Romanian uncle.)

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