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In the three Carpathian provinces of Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldavia, folk art developed in distinctive ways. Although the origins of popular art are very ancient, here as elsewhere, all museum collections are modern. This is not surprising because, apart from interior fittings, which have been preserved in churches and monasteries, objects of everyday use have nearly all disappeared. The earliest collections of peasant art date no further back than the second half of the 18th century, and most come from the 19th century. The best known - and most interesting - period of this art lies between 1750 and 1850. But these relatively modern objects are usually copies of much older models. And craftsmen still use the same age-old techniques in Romania today. Certain motifs, such as discuses and solar wheels, can be traced back to prehistoric times. Others reveal Byzantine, Persian or Turkish influences. It is not easy to categorise such a great variety of objects, ranging from household items and dress to craft and farming tools. Wood-carving and metal-work are essentially masculine, while weaving and embroidery, which require less physical effort, are feminine tasks. Rustic pottery is one of the most pleasing forms of Romanian folk art. In Oltenia, as in Moldavia, regional pottery is as charming in its proportions as its enamelling.

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