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Local Ethnographic Museums

In the region of Kastav, a part of the north littoral Croatia, developing craftsmanship has been a long tradition. Thus, Kastav become known for its coopers, copper-smiths, stonemasons, blacksmiths and others. The rich ethnographic heritage of the Kastav area is presented in the Kastav Museum Collection and in the Local Ethnographic Museums dedicated to traditional handicrafts.

VICO'S COOPERY – LOCAL ETNOGRAPHIC MUSEUMVICO'S COOPERY – LOCAL ETNOGRAPHIC MUSEUMVICO'S COOPERY – LOCAL ETNOGRAPHIC MUSEUM

VICO'S COOPERY – LOCAL ETNOGRAPHIC MUSEUM

In Pelini, the oldest part of the Kastav town's nucleus, just after the entrance to the town, on the ground floor of one of the old houses there was once a coopery. In the cooper's yard a škalnica – an item for soaking duge (thin pieces of board out of which barrels and other wooden containers once used in everyday life were made) is preserved. The diverse products of Kastav's coopers for preparing, holding, storing and transport of food and beverages were sold in Istria, on the islands and in Dalmatia. Cooper's products were made of long hard (mulberry, oak, chestnut) and soft wood (spruce and fir tree) mostly bought in Gorski Kotar. Rings used to tie the barells were also wooden. Great experience, patience, accuracy and skill are needed for making various sorts, forms and volumes of containers (from a few to many thousand litres) which emphasised the best characteristics of varying wooden structures. A collection of tools for producing coopery and various items made of wood are presented here in the authentic ambience of a former cooper workshop, where visitors can learn more about this traditional handicraft and sample some home-made wine and brandies. In summer, the courtyard of this workshop, located in the old town of Kastav, can host cultural events, promotions and concerts.

IDICA’S BAKERY – LOCAL ETHNOGRAPHIC MUSEUM

IDICA’S BAKERY – LOCAL ETHNOGRAPHIC MUSEUM

The oldest wood-fired oven in Kastav has been preserved in Idica’s Bakery in Pelini, a part of Kastav’s old town. Local women used to bring firewood in bundles from the nearby Loza forest. People in Kastav still remember Ida (Idica) Bačić (1890-1975) as an excellent cook and baker who used to bake bread for many years in her bakery in Pelini. In memory of her and other bakers from Kastav, this authentic place – Idica’s Bakery – has been preserved as one in the row of local ethnographic museums in Kastav. A wood-fired bread oven, built of stone and bricks, had to be of a large capacity in order to satisfy the needs of local people. In periods of poverty, people from Kastav area used to bake black bread and the so-called folk bread with mixed flour and potatoes. On festive days, people would bake special types of bread, such as traditional Christmas and Easter sweet bread with or without raisins.

People from Kastav particularly recall the traditional wedding bread which was made from sweet dough in a shape of a wreath. Housewives from Kastav would bring their own bread here for baking or would buy bread that was made in the bakery. The ambience of the bakery is completed with the old lopar - a wooden paddle for placing and removing the bread from the oven.

OSOJNAK’S KETTLE WORKSHOP – LOCAL ETHNOGRAPHIC MUSEUM

OSOJNAK’S KETTLE WORKSHOP – LOCAL ETHNOGRAPHIC MUSEUM

This is one of the rare and most famous workshops of Milko Osojnak (1911-1994), the last kettle maker from Kastav. The history of famous coppersmiths in this area began with arrival of the Karlavaris family, whose members came to Kastav from Merano (a town close to Gorizia in the Friuli region) in the 18th century. Their trade was handed down from father to son and to their apprentices, who would sometimes become their sons-in-law. The workshop was used to produce a wide range of items of copper, such as boilers for making brandy, dishes for agriculture, or various household items. People in this area would primarily buy kettles for making brandy and spray bottles for vineyards. Various decorative items were also much sought-after, especially those decorated with typical motifs of the local area such as grapes and vine leaves. The workshop has been preserved in its original state with old bellows, fireplace and anvil, and a collection of tools and artefacts that used to belong to the artisan Milko Osojnak. The former coppersmith workshop is today a display area of coppersmith’s trade, which was developed in Kastav in the past. The collected displays illustrate the little known coppersmith trade and casting of items made of copper, which were a constituent parts of the everyday life in the past.

FILE’S SMITHY

FILE’S SMITHY

In the private ownership of the Rubeša family the workshop of the well-respected Kastav smith Ivan Rubeša File has been preserved. Other famous blacksmith workshops in Kastav from the first half of the 20th century were known as Bondetova, Baničićeva and Romanotova and located in front of the town and in the areas of Dukići and Belveder. They belonged to the Babić, Dukić and Blečić families but were known locally by their nicknames derived from proper names of their owners or their professions, which is typical of the town of Kastav and its surroundings. The central part of the smithy was an open fire place, alongside which was placed great leather bellows used to stoke the fire, an anvil, a stone container with water for cooling the metal and around 40 different hammers and 20 sorts of jaws. The smiths made different sorts of objects for many purposes, home and garden, agricultural tools and tools for other crafts. Smiths – locksmiths made and repaired keys, locks and chains. The capability of a smith can be seen in the production of more demanding items such as axes, and in the special connection of skill and imagination in making decorative items for such as fences and doors which still greet visitors today.