Museum of Ethnography
H-1146, Budapest, Dózsa György út 35.
Phone: +36 1 474 2100
With just under 1000 pieces, the Hunting and Gathering Collection forms one of the smallest units among the museum's collections. The artefacts it comprises deal with three traditional activities: gathering, beekeeping, and hunting.
Over the past 130 years growth of the collection has been sporadic, with additions made sometimes intuitively, sometimes in planned fashion, and sometimes even routinely. During the period prior to 1914, artefacts were often acquired by chance. The collection's first five pieces were bark containers acquired by János Xántus during his work in the Transylvanian territory around Borszék in Csík County in 1892. The collection also includes 20 artefacts added by János Jankó, the first of which is a lovely powder horn made of deer antler, and 10 pieces acquired by Ottó Herman. During the period of its conception, the foundations of the collection were set by János Xántus, Flóris Rómer, and Ottó Herman, whose work was later carried on by various employees of the Department of Ethnography. The museum also purchased some of the material using funds donated annually by patrons of the museum, or acquired objects from private contributors. Work on the collection subsided considerably during the period from 1914 until the mid-1930's, when a total of only 50 items were added.
Between 1934 and 1943, however, the collection grew by a healthier 115 pieces. A pamphlet on the collection written in 1939 by Béla Gunda did much to familiarize the public with the previously neglected hunting and gathering material, emphasizing themes within the collection that had received less than adequate attention and discussing the role of hunting and agricultural gathering to the economy of the time. The hunting implements collected by Gunda for the museum were displayed at the International Hunting Exhibition held in Berlin in 1937. Also during this period, the Ethnological Documentation Department published a reference on apiculture (beekeeping), written by Sándor Gönyey. Between 1948 and 1970, work on the collection was done more systematically, resulting in the addition of 302 pieces. Exemplary work was done by Balázs Molnár and Tamás Hofer, who aimed at a more complete understanding of the subject, reflected in the complete sets of objects collected. Their research, conducted in the town of Komádi in Bihar County, did much to spur interest in the implements of traditional beekeeping in Hungary, such as that shown by Géza Csernák and Marietta Boross. Work on the collection today is less intense, as lifestyles change and the tools of this somewhat archaic trade have become obsolete. Nonetheless, the collection is still open to documentation of newly fashionable activities, such as the gathering and use of herbs and other natural ingredients.
The material of the collection breaks down as follows: gathering 8-9% (bark containers, implements used in gathering flowers, etc.), beekeeping 25-26% (beehives and beekeeping tools), hunting 65-66% (powder horns, lead shot containers, various bird and small mammal traps, etc.).
The curator of the collection is Dr. Magdolna Szabó.
This collection comprises more than 8500 pieces on two major themes: (1.) tools related to the traditional animal husbandry practices of the peoples of the Carpathian Basin (including the Hungarians) and (2.) objects of art created by shepherds for use in their everyday lives, for special occasions, or for decorative purposes.
Though the artistic value of shepherd craftsmanship is well-known, the first individual to accord it true scientific value was Ottó Herman in 1892. The museum's collection was begun in 1885, at which time it grew only slowly. Its contributors included professionals like János Xántus, Ottó Herman, Zsigmond Bátky, István Györffy, Károly Viski, and László Madarassy, as well as a number of enthusiastic amateurs. Xántus began by collecting objects from his own native village of Csokonya in Somogy County. A total of 89 objects were added to the collection in 1897, to be followed by a sizeable donation from the Museum of Applied Arts in 1898. Herman's contribution to the collection includes numerous objects acquired for display at the Hungarian state millennial celebrations, significant in terms of both quantity and quality. Herman's chosen theme was that of "Ősfoglalkozások," a term he coined himself meaning literally "ancient occupations," whose history at the time he believed to be nearing a regrettable and untimely end. Following the fervor of the late 19th century, efforts to obtain new material subsided, though the number of pieces donated or sold to the museum by private collectors grew (such as the collection of the pharmacist, Sándor Farkas), and the overall quality of new items improved.
Due to both practical difficulties and a lack of finances, work on the collection was interrupted during World War I, to be continued again only in 1921. Between 1930 and World War II, the collection was influenced primarily by the work of László Madarassy. In 1936 alone, for example, Madarassy contributed an impressive total of 417 pieces to the museum's inventory. Other collectors working in the 1930's included Károly Viski, who brought in objects from the town of Szalonta, and István Györffy whose work centred on the counties of Szatmár and Bereg. Starting in 1942, a number of pieces, primarily works of art created by herdsmen, were contributed by János Manga, another of the museum's definitive collectors. During the 1940's many new museum employees began collecting, as well. The museum's veterinary medicine collection, created between 1952 and 1955 by Géza Csernák, forms a separate unit within the overall collection. It was in the 1960's that the museum first embarked on organised fieldwork, aimed at expanding the collection in a planned fashion. It was at this time that artefacts related to stabled animals, a subject previously treated with somewhat less enthusiasm, were obtained in significant numbers. At the beginning of the 1960's literally hundreds of items at a time were added to the collection, and the museum began publishing reports on its work in the field. Outstanding contributors during this period include Tamás Hofer and László Földes, the latter of whom is also remembered for his scientific work. The collection gained much during the late 1960's and mid-1970's when the storerooms were organised and numerous uncatalogued items inventoried. During the final two decades of the 20th century, the collection chiefly acquired new pieces of herdsmen's art, some brought in by field workers and others purchased.
Publication on pieces belonging to the collection has progressed continuously since the end of the 19th century. Sections on herdsmen's art have been included in publications dealing with the topic of folk art as a whole, as well as in the many individual research projects done chiefly during the 1930's, and later in the 1970's and 80's. Professional literature on animal husbandry also tends to rely on or make reference to the collection of the Museum of Ethnography. Artefacts related to animal husbandry and shepherding are exhibited regularly, though separate exhibitions on these subjects have been few and diminutive in scope during the final decades of the 20th century.
Unfortunately, collecting and recording has not always been geographically evenly distributed which has lead to there being some gaps in the collection which may never be filled.
One-third of objects in the collection are decorative Spanish inlay artefacts from the Transdanubian Region of Hungary (Dunántúl), while another quarter originate from the area of the Great Hungarian Plain (Alföld). Pieces made of wood with metal inlay typically come from the region of Northern Hungary, with wooden milk containers from the ethnic Hungarian areas of Slovakia forming a separate unit. Objects from various areas in Transylvania were added to the collection in the early stages of its formation. In terms of the future, the aims of the museum include not only the continuation of fieldwork and collection efforts, but also extensive publication, including the requisite analysis and processing of existing material.
The Museum of Ethnography's Fishing Collection contains tools used in fishing in rural Hungary from the end of the 19th until the beginning of the 20th century. Both the concept behind the collection and the acquisition of its core material are associated with the publication of a monograph on fishing practices written by Ottó Herman in 1887.
Plans for the future of the collection include research of current fishing practices, particularly because of the recent discovery of fishing methods long thought to have fallen out of use in various areas of the country and especially around Lake Balaton. These methods include harpoon fishing, the use of castnets, and the production of elaborate fishing weirs, traps, and snares.
The Agriculture Collection was formed in 1960 as the result of efforts at systemisation begun in 1954. The museum acquired its first seven implements related to arable farming in 1885, though the majority of early additions were made in conjunction with the open-air ethnographical village created for the Millennial Celebrations in 1896. The 1,535 tools and farming implements purchased for the village by János Jankó, for example, included 138 items related specifically to arable farming.
Today, the collection comprises a total of 3,757 pieces, distributed proportionally among a number of themes. It includes examples of virtually every type of implement of significance to the subject of vine farming, though its geographical focus and variable quantities reflect the special interests of the professionals involved.
The collection boasts a particularly large number of items in several categories: 232 hoes and 103 hoe cleaning implements in the collection of hand tools for soil cultivation; 51 ploughs and 41 harrows in the category of implements pulled by animals; 204 reed cutting tools, 216 sickles, 36 scythes, and 147 whetstones under the heading of cutting implements; and in the category of grain processing tools, 62 flails, 149 wooden pitchforks, and 40 straw rakes. The collection also offers a variety of tools used in traditional viniculture, fruit production, corn growing, and tobacco farming.
Nearly all artefacts in the collection have been technically documented, analysed, and classified, with the latest guide book citing a total of 61 publications that have relied heavily on the museum's material.
The curator of the collection is György Máté.