Danube Virtual Museum

Old Crafts

Crafts in the Danube Area - from Belgrade to the Iron Gate/Đеrdаp

Crafts were the main economic activity of the Danube region in the late 19th and early 20th century of inhabitants of the Balkans. Basic raw materials for processing were: wood, stone, iron, clay and textile fibres of natural origin.

Craft products satisfied the basic needs of people of the area. Workshops were located in villages and towns along the Danube. The products were sold in stores, craft workshops and fairs.

Craftsmen produced tools for blacksmith and horseshoe workshops, such as blacksmith bellows, tongs, files, hammers, mallets, cutters, circa, brackets, etc. They produced and repaired all metal products while the blacksmith made horseshoes for oxen, bulls and horses.

Cartwright produced and repaired rural carts, such as large and small blades, different hammers, anvils, hatches and axes.

Woodworkers used wood as a basic raw material. They made the whole set furniture used in village homes of wood, such as benches, tables, chairs, beds, shelves and cabinets. The following tools were used: axes, large and small saws, compasses, awls, hatches and clamps. The job was done on a siege.

Potters were working on the foot potter's wheel. They mad different product of fired clay, such as pots, pans, jars, pitchers, flower pots, vases, candlesticks, different types of jugs, etc. In short, applied and decorative items.

Cobblers made opanci - shoes of cow and calf skins. Horse skin was rarely used, while in the case of major shortages even dog skin was used. Shoes were manufactured using raw and later tanned skin. Tools used were: shoe-makers stand, molds, awls, pricks, spoons, boards for placing shoes and scissors. During the war, due to shortages of natural leather, shoes were made of rubber.

Tanners processed animal skin which they bought from a butcher shop in villages and towns. The following tools were used: barrels for soaking leather and wooden pillars with iron pestle for battering mushrooms, as well as wooden frames, different knives and weights for stretching skin. Then, the skin was washed in large barrels or running water, dried and then soaked in cones and sep. For staining of the skin they used mulberry, walnut, elm and apple mushrooms.

Tanners also produced kоžuh – a sheepskin vest and šubаra – a winter fur hat. These products were in high demand in the area of the Danube especially in winter when the east wind blew.

Stonecutters were working on the stone from the quarry. They produced foundations for houses, fences, troughs for cattle, stairs, blacksmith beds, blacksmith wheels, wells fences and usually tombstones. Marble imported from Sweden and Italy was also used for making tombstones. For decoration of the tombstones different items were made, such as crosses, cubes, pillars, vases for flowers and candles, various figures and pedestals. Tools used were stone-hammers, chisels, mallets, peaks and angles.

Mentioned crafts were most abundant in the Danube region. Village craftsmen as well as those in towns did these jobs during the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century.
(Text: Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade)