I received some sad news from Transylvania this week that Victor-basci (Uncle Viktor), the rake and scythe snath maker for the area around Gyimes, has died.
I visited the area in 2011 to take part in a Haymaking Festival organised by Attila Sárig and the Pogány-havas Microregional Association to promote the region and it’s wonderful landscape, traditions and biodiversity.
During the week of scything and hay making, the visit to Viktor-basci was a real highlight, visiting another woodworker and seeing his methods of working. Despite the language barrier, he entertained and informed and clearly enjoyed having visitors come and see how he worked. As the festival has gained attention, more people from the UK scythe scene have taken part and there are now rakes and scythes made by Viktor-basci around the country.
Read more about our visit on my blog here and the rest of the hay making festival here.
One element of the festival is to highlight how fragile these landscapes and cultures are as farming methods change and people leave the land to pursue opportunities in the towns. For me, Viktor’s passing is a clear reminder just how fragile some of those elements are and that skills and crafts can be lost almost overnight. I know Attila had been learning some of the rake and snath making from Viktor ad hope that he or someone else in the community will be able to carry on the craft and provide these beautiful and important tools for the future.
This years Haymaking Festival will run from 7-14 August 2016 and is highly recommended. Find out more at http://www.treasuresoftransylvania.org/haymeadow-biodiversity/hay-making-festival