Collection of technology

    Crafts and Trades Collection

    The fourth largest collection in the Hungarian Department, the Crafts and Trades Collection, is made up of approximately 13,000 artefacts associated with traditional occupations. As a rule, the museum has placed cottage industry shop equipment, sets of tools, and pieces associated with various handicrafts and trade guilds into the Crafts and Trades Collection, leaving actual finished products in various other collections.

    The only exceptions to this are the collection's carved wooden items, including distaffs for spinning, shuttles for weaving, and beaters and scrub boards (mangling boards) for washing, all of which may be seen as folk art as well.

    Items belonging to the collection's workshops and shop equipment, the richest body of material of its type in the country, may be broken down as follows (with any one craft represented in several places): full workshops, 23 workshops in 19 crafts; nearly complete workshops, comprising 14 workshops in 11 crafts; less complete workshops, 21 workshops in 12 crafts; and special tools and other items covering a total of 9 separate crafts. Crafts and trades represented by more than one set of equipment include, lace making, book binding, spinning/weaving, mézeskalács* and candle making, comb making, and pottery.

    Despite all attempts to the contrary, the Crafts and Trades Collection does not cover the full range of small folk crafts pursued in Hungary. Moreover, certain types of objects are clearly overrepresented. Groups of artefacts comprising more than 100 items make up a full half the collection: pastry cutters (1267), stencils for dying traditional Hungarian blue-and-white cloth** (1162), distaffs (1026), comb patterns (978), lace-making bobbins (588), spindles (519), scrub boards (mangling boards) (385), wash beaters (310), spindle rings (156), spinning wheel nails (148), carding combs (130), linen frames (130), and various works of art (102).

    In terms of ethnographic research, the parts of the collection that have been most carefully studied are those dealing with spinning, weaving, and woodcarving, the latter of which has been included in numerous folk art exhibitions and photo albums.

    The curator of the collection is Péter Szuhay and Gábor Kőszegi.

    * Translator's note: mézeskalács is a flat cake, biscuit, or cookie made with honey, similar to lebkuchen or gingerbread and often elaborately decorated with thin line

    ** Translator's note: in Hungarian this cloth is called kékfestő, or blue-dying. The finished product is an indigo cloth with small white patterns, similar to calico.




    Transportation Collection

    The Transportation Collection, officially called the Collection on Transportation, Carriage, Communications, and Signalling, occupies a unique place among the artefacts of the Museum of Ethnography. The objects of material culture falling into these categories frequently reflect multiple aspects of the human condition and span the full range of human lifestyles.

    The most valuable artefacts in the collection are its leather and wooden saddles, mostly of peasant origin but including some richly decorated bone inlay pieces probably used by the upper levels of society. A significant proportion of the collection is dedicated to harnesses and other pieces of saddlery, such as buckles, bits, and stirrups.

    Occupying a prominent place in the collection are the museum's "coaches". Half cart, half carriage, this familiar four-wheeled vehicle of Hungarian invention derives its name from the Hungarian town of Kocs. Half of the pieces in the collection (6 vehicles) are fashioned using wooden axles. The trappings of beasts of burden, including harnesses and single and double yokes, are also present in significant numbers. In contrast, the museum's collection of sledges, cutters, and sleighs leaves considerable room for improvement. In general, future work on the collection must concentrate on the following broad thematic areas:

    1. Roadways
    2. Personal transport
    3. Transport of loads by humans
    4. Packs and bundles
    5. Vehicles with runners
    6. Vehicles with wheels
    7. Water vehicles

    the material for which has yet to be collected, stored, and scientifically studied.

    The curator of the collection is György Máté.


    Building Construction Collection

    Given the physical impossibility of reproducing the complete peasant home and accompanying outbuildings often seen in open air museums within the walls of a city museum, the Museum of Ethnography's special collection of artefacts on traditional building construction has been limited to smaller representative objects, many of which are used in the construction of other exhibits.

    Items include construction accessories, doors and windows, beams, locks, ironwork, various decorative pieces (such as decorative façade ironwork), and the maquettes that graced early peasant gates. With its some three hundred pieces, the building construction collection forms one of the Museum of Ethnography?s smaller offerings.

    The history of the collection can be separated into three periods, the first of which began with the formation of the Ethnographical Department and lasted until the outbreak of the First World War. This period was a significant one for the collection as the time when the most valuable pieces and sets of objects were acquired, including three complete Transylvanian gateway structures (one from Székelyfancsal in Udvarhely County in 1911 and two others from Mikháza in Maros-Torda County and Dálnok in Háromszék County in 1913).

    During the period between the two world wars, the number of pieces acquired by the collection dropped off considerably. After the end of the Second World War, however, the Ethnography Department separated from the National Museum to become a fully independent institution, the Budapest Museum of Ethnography. It was at this time that the material owned by the museum was organised into various collections, a system that had been planned at the end of the 1930's and is still used today. It was at this time that material related to peasant home construction, originally placed under the heading of "Settlements and Buildings," was organised into a separate collection within the Hungarian Department.

    In terms of its plans for expanding the collection, the museum hopes in the future to concentrate on documentation rather than the acquisition of new objects, adding written records on groups of side buildings, village gates, streets, parts of villages, and buildings on the periphery of towns. A separate task would consist in the analysis of the general architectural appearance of the holiday and recreational areas that have arisen in the last 40 years. In general, the museum seeks to continuously identify changes in general architectural culture, including such areas of interest as:

    The development of traditional peasant homes in accordance with changing fashions and ways of living, Changes in the appearance of and relationship between the parts of buildings that are used on a day-to-day basis and those that are maintained primarily for show, Changes in the general architecture of streets and rows of buildings to reflect altering trends toward an integrated appearance and the expression of individuality.


    The curator of the collection is György Máté.