The village museum from Bran, organized over more than four decades ago in the park next to the castle, portraits the evolution of the traditional folk architecture in the villages from the Bran area, reported to the main occupations: cattle breeding, and work in the woods, combined with agriculture, domestic wool processing industry and wood processing trades.Conceived as an open air museum, The Village Museum from Bran presents the main types of farmsteads and households, homestead annexes, economical buildings and folk technique hydraulically driven machineries for processing wood and wools.
The household with consolidated ward, typical for the scattered settlements from the Bran area, is represented at the museum by “the house with yard” from the village Pestera, dated 1843, according to the inscription on the joist from “the big house”. The farmstead is made up of the living house with four rooms (the little house – the living room, the big house, the larder and the entrance room), the stables (shelters for cattle) and the cookery room with the bread oven. The inhabited house is connected to the annexes by a small shop, which closes the yard, serving as shelter for tools and carriages.
The second type of household with yard, characteristic for the villages in the Bran area Poarta, Sohodol and Predeal (Predelut), is the household on three lines, represented at the museum by “the Clinciu House”, from the village Poarta, made up of the living house and the barn, placed on two sides of the yard, connected on the third side by a small shop. The household is significant for the constructive-architectural evolution of the household from the Bran area and for the ethnical-cultural interferences from the South-East of Transylvania, marked by the appearance of the barn, coming as a cultural contribution of the German population, colonized in the Land of Bârsa in the Middle Age.
The house from Bran is presented by the museum at every step of its typological evolution, starting with the unicellular house, the oldest type, subsequently transformed into a temporary dwelling, continuing with the two roomed house with cold entrance room, to which, during the XIX century the third room is added “the big house” (the clean room), giving birth to the three roomed house having the entrance room in the middle. The two roomed house with cold entrance room is represented at the open air museum by the House from Sohodol, from the late XVIII century. The three roomed house having the entrance room in the middle is present at the Village Museum from Bran in two variants that typologically distinguish the dwellings from the two sub-areas of Bran; the house with the entrance room in the middle, with annex (to shelter the cattle), typical for the upper villages of Bran (Fundata, Sirnea, Pestera, Magura, Moeciu, Simon) and the house with the entrance room in the middle, without annex, specific for the downer villages of Bran (Predeal, Sohodol, Poarta), where the barn appears, as a household annex, having a double function: serving as shelter for cattle and as room for flailing and depositing the grains, due to the mixed character of the occupations: cattle breeding and agriculture.
The types of dwellings presented at the Village Museum from Bran are completed by the annex dwelling, proceeding from the village Moeciu de Sus, having a double use: room for the food preparation and dwelling for the older generation; and by the temporary dwelling, from the village Podul Dâmbovitei, from Muscel area, that has permanently kept cultural contacts with Bran.
The annexes are mostly connected with the cattle breeding activity, the main occupation of the inhabitants from the villages in the Bran area, and with the farming activity reduced to the basic consumption needs of the household. The buildings are gathered in a sort of a pastoral complex consisting of: the barn from Simon village, with cattle stables and barn area, for flailing grains; the pen in the Vladusca Mountain serving as a milk processing shop and shelter for the shepherds in summer, when the cattle, gathered in herds, are moved to the pastoral grazing area; and the “cottage-cheese pen” in the Land of Bârsa plain, where “the cattle treasurers” from Bran took the herds grazing from “the cattle gathering moment”, on Saint George (23rd of April), until the end of May, when they went up to the mountainous pens.
A different sector of the village museum from Bran outlines the evolution of the processing techniques of the fundamental raw material: wool and wood, by illustrating the main types of folk technique hydraulically driven machineries: the fulling mill, the pounding mill and the saw mill, all three driven by the force of water. The fulling mill, used to thicken and finish the thick cloth for clothing is associated with the carding comb used for carding wool into bundle that, after being spun (using a distaff or a “spinning wheel”), is used for weaving the interior fabrics and the pieces of the folk costumes. The installation, dating from the end of the XIX century, was transferred into the museum from the Cheia village down the Moeciu valley, the water course being appropriate for bringing into operation the folk technique machineries.
The pounding mill – associated with the eddy – exposed at the open air museum, dates from the XVIII century, belonging to several generations of the Ghica (Gata) family from Moeciu de Jos, well known for practicing the pastoral moving of the flocks. The installation, driven by the hydraulic vertical wheel, consists of a wooden pipe, the inner side being covered with feathers. The wool is thickened in the pipe turned by the wheel and then it is placed on the pipe, passing through the thicket of the brambles, thus being shred. The eddy serves for strengthening and washing the wools.
The passing from the traditional, manual wood processing techniques to the “industrial” ones, still in early stage, is underlined by the saw mill transferred from the Simon village, encountered in the medieval documents under the name “board mill”.
The image of the old village from Bran is also suggested by the sweep fountain from Sohodol village, used for supplying with water the household, the water often being transported from a large distance with the wooden casks, balanced on a yoke.The architecture from the Bran area belongs to the wood architecture ring from both sides of the Carpathian arc. The building is placed on a stone foundation; the walls consist of fir beams, set in horizontal circlets, with the ends joined in “button-holes”; the beams are clay glued and painted with the lime resulted after burning (calcinations) the limestone; it is a four sloped roof (the oldest type) and, beginning with the second half of the XIX century, a two sloped roof. The cover of the roof is made of shingle with troughs, acquired by splitting with an axe the pine tree trunks.The Bran architecture is characterized by ideal proportions between the roof and the wall, of ½, the height of the roof harmoniously framing the house within the mountain landscape, and by asymmetry, at the oldest type, expressed in plan by different dimensions of the rooms and by placing the entrance on one side, in front of the vestibule, as we may notice at the two roomed house from Sohodol. The passing to the three roomed plan of the dwelling, with the vestibule making the entrance into the house in the middle, also marks the passing to symmetrical shapes, noticed in the Village Museum from Bran at the houses from Sohodol and Moeciu de Sus.
The interior architecture of the house from Bran is distinguished by the wooden ceiling, with obvious beams, on which we may notice the indented set, having stylized geometrical and flower elements, as well as the inscription of the craftsman’s name and the year the building was put up. The walls are clay glued and limed and the floor (podina) is made of pine tree boards and very rarely of clay.
The inner part of the dwelling from Bran represents an ensemble reflecting the functions fulfilled by the house: the heated shelter of man, the place where people eat and sleep, develop diverse domestic activities, welcome guests during common visits, the location where the socials take place, in one word where they live their every day live, as complex as it may be.
The inner part is completed by the heating and food making system, by the furniture and the ornamental pieces (fabrics, ceramics, and icons).
Placing this ensemble in space is made based on two criteria: the functional one and the decorative one.
The splitting of the dwelling from the functional point of view is made on corners:
a) The corner with the heating and food making system;
b) The corner with the bed;
c) The corner with the table;
d) The door corner with the dish shelf.
Of old tradition is the heating and food making system, named hearth, of Dacian origin, taken over from the neighboring peoples, which keep their initial shape and function way until the end of the XX century, when its place is taken by the brick stove, with oven.
Significant for the development stages of the village from Bran is also the evolution of the furniture (chest, table, sofa, and peg) from the one made of carved beech tree wood, with indented set, manufactured by the carpenters who also built the house, to the furniture made of painted pine tree wood, manufactured by the joiners trained in the urban handicraft environment.
Once the clean room (the big house) appears at the end of the XIX century, on the plan of the dwelling from Bran, a new evolution stage for the interiors commences, the accent being put on decorations.
The inner part of the house from the Bran area develops a complex shape, a combination of the Transylvanian interiors (well shaped overlapped registers with reduced chromatics, specific to the Land of Olt) with the Wallachian one, characterized by the abundance of vivid thick wools, covering the entire wall, typical for the Muscel area.
The first register is formed by the furniture (chests, sofas, bed, table) placed at corners, as we mentioned above; at the upper border of the walls, the painted pegs hanging glass cups, narrow-necked tankards and towels form the second register; the third decorative register is formed by the space between the pegs and the furniture, covered by a striped fabric, later on by a “wheeled” carpet, interrupted by the windows, in between being placed an icon. The interior set of the dwelling from Bran is completed by towels gathered in the middle, shaped as butterflies, placed around the icons or on the carpet. In this interior set we encounter two systems underlining, also on this level, the Transylvanian and Wallachian cultural interferences, namely the decoration of the upper side of the room, specific for the Transylvanian decoration style, and the polychromatic decorative fabrics, the hanging type of the towels, the custom of overlaying a mirror, photographs and icons on the wall carpet, reminding of a Wallachian type of interior set.
Throughout the evolution of the interior of the house from the Bran area, the towels pass from the simple striped models to the floral woven decorations; the fabrics gradually turn into carpets, at the middle of the XX century, when we meet the geometrical set, appearing also the carpet with floral motif, an influence of the Moroieni wools which, eventually is applied in baroque shapes on a black background. Remarkable is the tendency towards live coloring, gradually accompanied by the abandon of the traditional painting techniques using vegetal colors. Yellow, orange and violet are introduced and, later on light blue and green, colors accomplished with “shop paints”.
At the middle of the XX century, first in the village Poarta, the “wheeled” carpet with a brown background appears. About the same time the painted furniture gradually disappears, being replaced with the city furniture and, in the last decades with the factory made one.
Synthesizing the evolution of the Bran dwellings, the open air museum from Bran presents the visitors an image of a live museum, due to the presence of the folk creators, arrived from different ethnographical regions of the country. There are present potters from Horezu and Corund, manufacturers of folk instruments from Muscel and Covasna, folk artists is the field of fabrics and folk costumes from the Huedin area, furriers and weavers from Bran, wood carvers from Vâlcea, Muscel and Dâmbovita and many others who, through the demonstrative activities of their skill, confer a spectacle worthy of any museum, where tradition is integrated into the new cultural model, shaped at the contact with the universal cultural values.