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Črpáks – Shepherd’s Mugs

Črpáks – Shepherd’s Mugs

Črpáks – Shepherd’s Mugs 1750 1168 Centrum pre tradičnú ľudovú kultúru
Črpáks, čerpoki, čerpaki as part of shepherd’s tableware, are closely related to the sheep farm community – the chief shepherd, herdsmen, and their helpers. Since the early feudalism period (9th–12th century), sheep breeding was part of the culture of the generation of people living in Slovakia. The knowledge of sheep farming has been transmitted from generation to generation, thanks to which traditional shepherds’ and herdsmen’s families emerged in some Slovak villages. Throughout centuries of its existence, this wooden mug with a handle and embedded bottom has not only had a practical function – for drinking žinčica (sheep’s milk whey), milk, water, or as a jug for measuring the required amount of liquids – but has also become the symbol of Slovak sheep farms (salaš). Črpák as the symbol of shepherding has never been a trading commodity. It has served as an item to be exchanged for sheep, goats, cookware, or tools. Even today, amateur woodcarvers search for living chief shepherds from all over Slovakia who have knowledge not only of its aesthetical function, but also its functional requirements. Črpáks have been widespread within the broad territory of the Carpathians and of the Balkans – wherever the mountain type of sheep breeding prevailed. In 19th century Slovakia, they were used mainly in the surroundings of Detva, Zvolen, Banská Bystrica, and the Upper Nitra region, spreading to the Orava, Kysuce, Liptov, and Spiš regions in the 20th century. For the most part, the producers and users of these mugs were the shepherds themselves, but črpáks were also made by woodcarvers in villages, who had served at sheep farms at their young age. Since the 19th century, there have been up to three types of črpáks, differing mainly in their design, the way of attaching the handle to the mug, as well as in the shape and ornaments: Eastern-Slovak, Northern-Slovak, and Central-Slovak types. The oldest, Eastern-Slovak type of črpák is compact, carved out of a single piece of wood (known also as Gemer type – widespread in the Gemer and Spiš regions). The Northern-Slovak črpák is characterised by its handle being attached to the wooden milk cup (puterka or geletka) by a dovetail connection, using a wooden or brass ring (known also as Liptov type – widespread in the Liptov and Orava regions). The Central Slovak separable type of črpák has its handle connected to the container by a tooth in the upper part and by a ring in the bottom part (called also Detva type – widespread in the Podpoľanie region). The woodcarving decoration focuses on the črpák handle (geometrical, zoomorphic, or anthropomorphic figural motifs from life and work at sheep farms), but the mug and the brass ring have also been decorated from time to time. Experts in folk arts claim that the črpáks from Slovakia are unparalleled in Europe in terms of the decorative design of the handles. Even though they have fulfilled a utility function within their natural social environment, their decoration can be considered an autonomous work of art.
Proposal by
Horehronie Museum, Ľubomír Tatarka
Year of Inscription
2021
Certificate number
CTLK-RZNKD-2020/005

   

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