Looking for craftsmen in Maramures is not an easy task. Even for someone who speaks romanian, it might be difficult, let alone a foreigner.
I was in Maramures recently on a tour. I was there with two ladies from Belgium and they wanted to meet some local craftsmen. Well, Maramures is a place where the crafts have been well preserved.
One can meet people making plum brandy, or traditional hats, or wooden gates, or agricultural tools. And so on.
This time I was looking for a lady who makes traditional shirts. Those beautiful and colourful shirts that both men and women wear at special occasions. To see that, if you go to church on a Sunday, is something unique.
So I did some research. I contacted people in the village where we stayed. Then, made some phone calls to people I knew in Maramures area. And eventually I got a name: Lenuta.
Lenuta had been sewing shirts for some time now; everybody says she was the best. We enjoyed our last day in Maramures, touring, and then we started to look for Lenuta. I got all kinds of pieces of information: she lives down this road, or the yellow house near the green fence etc.
Went to the village and pulled over a few times. I stopped people in the street to ask them about Lenuta. Some people knew her and told me: she is not home, she is preparing the hay. Some people told me she was at the church. And so on. At some point I stopped at the local store, the best place where you can find information about people; that and the pub.
Asked about Lenuta when one lady turned and said: aaa, Lenuta? We are relatives. She is my cousin. She is at home.
Then she said all the good things about Lenuta and her craft. And then she gave me the directions.
We got to Lenuta’s place. A nice traditional Maramures house. Lenuta was home, and she was very hospitable. She excused herself: sorry I am not prepared but I just came from the field; we picked plums all day long; we will make some good brandy.
She sat us down and showed us her sewing machine. She started this craft many years ago, taught by her mother. You could tell she was very proud and she had all the reasons to be.
She showed us traditional Maramures clothing, with beautiful embroideries. What a treat! My guests were on cloud nine, literally.
Both my guests knew what they wanted so they asked a lot of questions. Lenuta was happy to answer. She even showed them how she works.
Maramures still has a lot of respect for traditional clothing, she said. And it is very true.
If you want to see hand made shirts, go to Lenuta. She is an absolute artist. Her passion is almost infectious.