Off the beaten path, the small village of Horezu is a cultural center in Romania that is only now starting to gain the attention it deserves. The biggest sight of the town is a local monastery from 1690 that has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Monument.
Even though it is considered to be the epitome of the Romanian Bracovenesc architectural style, this monastery is not the reason why most people come to the sleepy village. Instead, it is the pottery and ceramics made here that is the center of attention for most visitors.
The Pottery Process
The tradition of making pottery has been passed down from generation to generation in this area and has led to a unique style that is only made in Horezu. Unlike other villages in the world where pottery is a staple, Horezu works in a different way that involves everyone in a typical family.
The men of the family are responsible for using a kick wheel to shape the plates and bowls, but the women have a different role. It is the women of a family that decorate the pieces, using several motifs that are common across all Horezu pottery forms. The final painting is done with goose feathers and cow horns to give a distinctive look and feel.
The Horezu Motifs
The most popular symbol used to decorate Horezu pottery is a specific rooster, which has been given the name of Cocosul de Hurez (the Horezu Rooster). This rooster is usually represented with drawn black lines and white spots on a light brown body. There are many other images common to Horezu pottery and most families will have their own collection of motifs and symbols that they include on their pieces. Other than the rooster, other motifs could include the tree of life, a snake, stars, or a simple spiral. In many cases, a single piece will have several of these elements represented.
For almost all of the pottery makers in the Horezu village, there is a commitment to tradition that can be seen in every ceramic work they create. The traditional material is a collection of local clays found in the area, including an off-white, red, and brown-colored clay that come from nearby mountains and other neighboring villages. The clay itself is cured using natural processes and every piece represents a large amount of work from beginning to finish. The most common colors for the pottery painting are earth tones, such as orange and brown, but recent years have seen blue added as a typical color.
Reaching the Horezu area and its amazing pottery is not difficult, but most visitors to Romania do not include it on their itinerary. For a person that wants to get a true feel of village life in Romania, a trip to the Horezu monastery and the village’s famous pottery can be included as a tour of the countryside. Other attractions in the area that merit a visit include the Hunyadi Castle in Hunedoara and Sarmizegetusa, both easily reachable within a few hours’ drive.