Calabash, bulrush and Easter eggs

Calabash, bulrush and Easter eggs

Attila Agócs

Secondary school teacher of biology and chemistry Pál Benko (1968) is a producer who respects natural materials and is an expert in the physiology of plants he processes. He weaves items from bulrush and makes containers from calabash.

Containers from hard skin pumpkins were produced in Europe as early as in the Neolithic Age. They were made from the European species (remaining calabash species come from America). Dried calabashes were used to store eggs, flour, dried fruits and ground pepper and for the transport of water and alcohol. They were popular among shepherds because they could store one-day portion of drinking water and were much lighter and firmer to carry than other vessels when empty. The plants were transported to the Carpathian valley from the Balkans and regions around the Mediterranean Sea, thus, they are hard to grow in our lands. Ripe plants are dried and their skin is peeled off. After two weeks, they are hollowed out with a wire and decorated. Pál Benko uses two decorating techniques: scratching and etching. An ornament scratched into skin is painted with soot, producing black ends and natural colour of a dried gourd. Etching by nitric acid produces third colour.

Pál makes daily products as well as puppets (better to be described as masks) for the Fairy-tale Theatre (Rozprávkové divadlo) from bulrush.

Tünde Benko (1966) is an expert in the production of folk jewellery from beads and an avid promoter of the revival of the production of Easter eggs in Nový Hrad. Tünde gets inspiration from old records and 25 ornaments that were reported in a 1908 article.