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Traditional cooking workshop & Workshop for making candles from mutton tallow and beeswax

24 September 2021, 12:00 – 16:00

ASTRA Open air museum, the homesteads from Sebeșu de Jos and Rășinari


Workshop for making beeswax candles​


In the homestead from Sebeșu de Jos, a beeswax candle maker will make candles using a traditional installation for dripping and rotating on a reel. This is an ingenious process, as the installation, which used two reels, made it possible to make an impressive number of candles at the same time. However, it also requires a skilful candle maker, who has in mind aspects such as: the temperature of the melted wax in the vessel through which the cotton wick goes, the temperature inside the workroom, the speed and rhythm used in spinning the reels. In theory, this method is quite simple: the wick goes through the melted wax and then through a hole where the surplus is eliminated, then it is rolled on the first reel; when the entire length is rolled, the head goes through the wax vessel again and through a second, larger hole, where the wax surplus is eliminated, then the entire length is rolled on the second reel. The process is repeated until the desired thickness is achieved and the candles are cut to the desired length. The next step is cutting one end of the candle to let pout a part of the wick.   

Traditional cooking workshop and workshop for making ​candles from mutton tallow


The traditional cooking workshop will be organized in the courtyard of the homestead from Rășinari and it will be centred around mutton, a type of meat that is specific to shepherds’ recipes. By means of the candle making workshop, the tallow will also be put to use. This workshop aims at revitalizing a craft that has ancient roots and which was practiced up the beginning of the 20th century. The process of making candles from mutton tallow had the following steps: preparing the tallow, preparing the wick and pouring the wax. The process started with melting and boiling the tallow and then draining the resulting greaves to get the entire amount of grease. The wick was dipped in the tallow and the candles were then make by pouring the tallow in tubes that were placed in a special candle wooden frame. After they cooled, the tubes were lightly heated to make it easier to get the candles out.


We find important information on this craft in the monograph of the Rășinari village, written by Victor Păcală and published in 1915, helping us outline the main occupation of the villagers – sheep raising – and other aspects deriving from it. Thus, we learn that: “The main ingredient in the peasants’ diet is meat. In well-of times, when sheep were cut by hundreds in Rășinari, people only kept lean meat (which was called șușală when it was smoked), hind legs and shoulders for their personal use. Out of the 12123 animals cut in 1911, 2 were bulls, 33 cows, 2 heifers, 13 calves, 1 buffalo, 113 pigs, 4154 sheep and 7805 lambs. Statistics show that the population in Rășinari was of 6420 people, with 1772 house numbers, in 1910.”


From the same monograph we learn that at the beginning of the 20th century people still made candles from mutton tallow, but also from beeswax: “There are 4 candle makers in the village, 2 making candles from tallow and 2 from beeswax. The quantity of these industrial products is barely sufficient for covering internal needs, let alone being exported like in the old time.”


The new exhibition circuit, including the homestead and sheepfold form Rășinari and the homestead from Sebeșu de Jos, will also familiarize you to the life of the communities of the two villages by means of new technologies used to present some of the objects exhibited in the museum.

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