February 26, 2015
1469 ROMANIA (Brașov) - A Transylvanian Saxon bride of Meșendorf
The Transylvanian Saxons is the oldest and the numerous group of German ethnicity who live in Transylvania. In the 12th century they followed the call of King Geza II, which promoted the colonization of Germans in terra ultrasilvana (The Land Beyond the Forests) to protect the border of the Kingdom of Hungary. The colonization continued until the end of the 13th century, the Germans being also sought for their ability to develop the region's economy. Although the colonists came mostly from the western Holy Roman Empire and generally spoke Franconian dialects, they were known as Saxons. In 1224 the Golden Charter of King Andrew II ensured them a large autonomy, lost only after the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, which led to the final annexation of the region by Hungary.
After the end of WWI, many Saxons supported the unification of Transylvania with the Kingdom of Romania, especially because have been promised full minority rights, a needed opening after the policy of Magyarisation which held during the years of Austria-Hungary. Unfortunately, after 1944 began tough times for them, some fleeing to the West, while others were deported to the Soviet Union. Followed the communist period, when the emigration to the West also was significant. Since 1989, it has grown, so in 2011 remained in Romania only about 37,000 (5% of the German ethnic population existing in 1940). After 800 years, the Transylvanian Saxons turned to the West, seeking the same thing which brought their ancestors here: freedom and economic prosperity. Their departure is a great loss to Romania, both economically as well as culturally.
An good example in the light of the above said is Meşendorf (Meschenderf in Saxon dialect), a village with a history of almost seven centuries, located at about 8km west of the Sighişoara-Rupea highway. In 1941 the village had 782 inhabitants, of which 552 Transylvanian Saxons (70.6%). In 1992 remained only 101 Saxons, and in 2002 the village had 344 inhabitants, of which only 7 were Saxons. As a "detail", the houses abandoned by saxons were occupied by gypsies. Fortunately, the Saxon traditions and folk costumes weren't entirely lost. Each year, on the Pentecost, the Saxons from all over Germany and overseas meet for their home convention in Dinkelsbühl, a medieval town in Bavaria that resembles with Sighişoara. With this ocasion takes place a parade, to which they are exhibited folk costumes from different areas, including Meşendorf.
The Saxon outfit (Tracht) is a sumptuous costum, rich in embroideries and jewelries, harmonious in chromatic terms and well tailored. These characteristics were determined by the ethnographic region, by occasion, by social status and by age. In the saxon outfit are ancient pieces, by medieval and Renaissance inspiration, whereby is akin to the costume from regions of origin (Flanders, Luxembourg, for example): the wrinkled mantle Krauser / Kroner Mantel) of black fur, the shirt with crease around the neck, the girdle with metal embossing, the buckle worn on the chest (Heftel), the cylinder of velvet wore on the head by girls (Borten), certain types of headdress. The Saxons costume stands out also due to the splendid embroideries, made with loose cotton in primary colors (red, blue, yellow, black), the favourite motifs being the floral ones, with a special symbolism.
To each region inhabited by Saxons corresponds to a certain kind of headdress, which also indicates the age and social status of the woman: in childhood colored bonnet, then Borten, after marriage die Bockelung (the hoodwink of the head) and finally die Haube (again bonnet of velvet, embroidered). The woman in the picture ("bride, the day after the wedding") wears the following: on the head a black bonnet (Heuf), three ribbons with polychrome floral decoration (Flietschen); a white veil (Schlyjerdaoch), wrapped around the head in heart shape, with one end hanging on backwards, and the other brought under the chin to the top of the head and caught with six needles (Bockelnadeln); a white shirt; a black coat of velvet, short to the waist, sleeveless and embroidered (Leiber); a buckle on chest (Heftel).
About the stamp
The stamp is part of the series Cotroceni Palace, History and Heraldry, about which I wrote here.
Transylvanian Saxons - Wikipedia
The Transylvanian Saxons and their role in the history of the Romanians (rom) - "Adevărul" online
The traditional outfit of the Transylvanian Saxons (rom) - Saxon Stories about the Saxons from yesterday and today
Photo document: The adorning of the head to the Transylvanian Saxon women (rom) - Saxon Stories about the Saxons from yesterday and today
Sender: Ionuţ Bănuţă
Sent from Bucureşti (Bucureşti / Romania), on 13.02.2015
Postcards issued by Muzeul de Etnografie Braşov