Castrum Corvi

Somewhere, 48 degrees North form the Equator and 19.6 degrees East from Greenwich, a two-floor a tourist-bus is climbing onto the hill. It is fully loaded with curious foreign visitors.

As they get out and go for a walk in the village, they can see old-fashioned, white-painted, straw roof houses, a small church with wooden tower, and some museums about everyday peasant life in the beginning of the century. This is Hollókő (Ravenstone), the most famous palots village in Hungary, on an average summer day, 1998 AD.

Hungarian nobles lost their privileges in 1848, and thus serfs were set free. But this political decision did not mean that sowing and reaping got suddenly stopped on the fields. The fact is, that everyday lifestyle of those ex-serfs hadn't change much for more than fifty years. Even in 1960, the peasant art and the customs were the same as a century before, and only a few new-style houses had been build in the old part of Hollókő. This made possible for ethnographers to reconstruct every aspect of the nineteens' peasant life.

Today the old-village is a living museum. Hungarian and foreign turists are coming to see the typical peasant houses, to have a closer look at the palots national costume, to see and try the art of weaving, spinning, needlework and pottery with the simple tools avaiable in the previous century. Others come to enjoy the view from the fortress (and to take part in the castle games in August). Walking along the paved street visitors have the feeling they have travelled a century back into the past.

But Hollókő is dying. Without interaction it will be completely abadonned in 15-20 years.

You might take note of the fact, that people wearing national costume, people gossiping on the streets, people explaining the past in the museums are elderly. Hollókő has only a few young inhabitants, and even they don't seem to be interested in learning from their parents and continuing the tradition. As they grow up and get a good-paying job in the towns nearby, they do not hesitate to accept it and leave forever.

Without replacement the palots traditions of Hollókő last as long as their present cultivers live. This means that twenty years later, as the last palots costume is sold to a sight-seer, the last hand-made pot is broken, and the last needlework coverlet has bursted in the washing machine, there will be noone to reproduce these crafts-products. There will be also noone to fix a smashed glass or repair a broken-in roof.

And the problem is not decades far away. We have counted the number of full sets of national costumes (men, women and children), and in less than ten percent of the households is either of them. The artists told us, that they would gladly teach the tricks of their craft to the young, but there isn't anybody volunteering. So time passes, and not just the products, but methods and the arts themselves are getting completely lost.

No more people, no more ravens, just the stones.

Oh, sorry, I've got a little carried away again without reason. Since 1960, when the village reconstruction project started, there has been a lot of achievements, which I haven't mentioned. I feel terribly sorry for misleading you. Houses that did not fit in the aspect of the village have been removed, and an open-air theatre has been built. The reconstruction of the ruins of the 600-year old fortress (Castrum Corvi, as mentioned in an early document) has just finished. There are well-desinged wooden sings showing the preferred way of passing, clean water, food store, pubs, and ice-bar in a cellar, too.

You can buy lacy shirts for children and postcards for grandma at home. You can even freely count the number of skirts on a costume-wearing girl. (Of course, persuading her to dress up is not free. It costs between two and three movie tickets.) It works as it sounds: more than five fully-loaded buses arrive each day. Hollókő has the sight, it offers the service, nothing is missing for the bright future. Sure enough, isn't it?

The reconstruction has finished, but nobody is paying attention to the re-construction of craft and lifestyle. It is a very hard work stop time and progress for a century, to keep the traditions -- and to keep the people. Without progress and convenience of modern life, we tend to be discontented and try our luck somewhere else. With progress, we forget our traditions, and thus get constrained to wear the common grey uniform of integrated monotony.

The inhabitants cut the tree under themselves. They live their own modern life on weekdays and re-dress for the weekend. They will stay as long as there is something to show, something to sell. Nothing is keeping them in Hollókő, and help does not seem to arrive. A village and a culture is dying with the years, and nobody dares to realise this.

Tempora mutantur. Time passes and so are we making our little steps. It is not known, which way is right, but things are getting certainly more and more angled and grey. We don't see where to go straight on, but it is considered sure, that the white, straw roof houses with verandah are in the opposite direction. We hope to get through to somewhere. But if we have still gone the wrong direction, we would not find way the back, because the milestones are left wasting under the pressure of time.

1998 második fele
benne van egy UNESCO jegyzőkönyvben
Hollókő, Budaörs, Magyarország.

Ez a lap pts oldalai közül való.