Handmade carpets, often made of wool, have traditionally played an important role Moldovan family life, especially during rites and ceremonies. They were woven almost exclusively for household use, adorning walls inside a house and placed on beds and on the floor. They were passed down from one generation to the next, rarely sold.
Traditional carpets expressed a collective artistry and vision, which was gathered over generations. They also served as an indicator of people's social status in years past. In light of their significance in Moldovan culture, in recent years, carpets have drawn the attention of art and ethnography researchers. But this is not a new phenomenon. Moldovan carpets were exhibited in at an international exhibition in Paris in 1867, and then in Krakow, Vienna, and Geneva in different years. After the 1880s, carpets made in Bessarabia were presented in a series of exhibitions in important trade centers of Russia – Harcov (1887), Nijniy-Novgorod (1896), Petersburg (1902, 1913).
The practice of decorating Easter eggs almost disappeared from Moldovan culture during the Soviet Union when religious expression was suppressed. Traditionally, eggs are decorated with floral and geometric elements. Egg decoration starts by marking the egg with hot wax lines alongside and flatways, to form the ornamental areas. After the wax turns cold, the egg is deepened in colored water and then taken out and dried.
Afterwards, the «writing» of specific motives in yellow starts; the red color follows and the black or another dark color comes in the end. Eventually, the egg is dried by slight warming and the wax lines are wiped off.
However, today the craft has been revived and many Moldovan families paint eggs with their children during the Easter season. The craft is particularly alive and well in the village of Trebujeni, which is part of the Orhei Vechi archeological complex. Here many women and girls know how to paint Easter eggs and they welcome visitors to learn about and experience for themselves this traditional art form. Another locality with a strong tradition in painting Easter eggs is Lalova village in the Rezina district, where visitors can also take part in Easter egg painting. The master class is organized at the rural pension "Hanul lui Hanganu" [link to rural pensions].
The National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History [Link to museum] in Chisinau organizes several exhibitions and workshops each year, where craftswomen demonstrate this craft.
Traditional embroidery is still widely practices in rural Moldova. Many women decorate handmade clothes, curtains, tablecloths, and linens. Some of the most frequent patterns are floral, but designs with rivers, chickens, butterflies, ram horns and the path of the ceoban (an ancient name for herder) are also common.
Moldovan embroidery is distinguished through the colorful themes–zigzag patterns in red, golden, blue and black colors. Some of the most impressive designs can be found on women's blouses. Roday traditional hand made blouses are popular in Moldova and local people and tourists can buy them. Most famouse place is the Casa Cristea in Chisinau [Hiperlink to www.casacristea.md]. The artistic level of traditional Moldovan embroidery can be witnessed by visiting the historic-cultural museum in Chisinau, Moldova.
In Moldova, knitting is a method of decorating woven items for home use and adornment, clothing, or other fine crafts. It can also be used to make full textile items.
In knitting, a rich variety of loop combinations and technical methods can be used, which result in a diversity of knit models. Knit items represent a treasure of decorative values expressed by the artistic feeling and taste of Moldovan artisans.
This art, which used to be a home occupation for women and later became an artistic craft for some of them, appeared in Moldova very early. Needle knitting appeared at the time reed pleating, textile weaving, and fishing and hunting nets appeared.
In the medieval times, knitting and embroidery were occupations in the monastery workshops in a number of important towns, in manor houses and urban centers.
Moldovan ceramics are distinguished by the decorative patterns – straight, curved, spiraled, and angular lines, dots, and circles that are either engraved into the clay or applied on the surface. Various animal, plant, and geometric figures matching the form and function of the objects on which they are placed in such a way that provides uniqueness and originality. Traditional traits can be seen in the form, the colors, ornament, and the technique of ceramics.
The craft is not as wide spread today as it once was, but the traditions are still preserved due to some enthusiastic artisans, such as Vasile Goncear from Hoginesti, Calarasi district.
Moldova has rich reserves of limestone, marl, slate, white stone, etc. In the early 19th century, people started using stone to construct buildings in towns and cities, which is still done today. In villages located near quarries, not only houses, but also piers, handrails, bulwarks, wells, gate columns, etc. are made of stone, which are decorated with stylized geometric shapes.
Examples of such villages are those situated in the district of Orhei, close to the Raut River (Butuceni, Trebujeni, Brăneşti, Măşcăuţi, Morovaia, Furceni, Pogorniceni, Ivancea etc.). The decoration of houses, cellars, and gates is original here. The cellar façades, gate columns, chimneys, and well curbs, which often have the construction year engraved on them, form a stylistic unit with the house. Houses in this area have a unique and original architecture specific for this part of the country; they are made of masonry, with decorative stone columns that are whitewashed or blue washed.
Another important center for stone carving is Cosauti village of Soroca district. The Cosauti sandstone and granite are in great demand for use in construction, decorative arrangements for houses, gravestones etc. Known also as "the village of craftsmen", it originated when groups of stone crafters from Transylvania were brought to the area by Petru Rares, King of Moldova, and settled here. Through the centuries, the art of stone carving developed and was handed down from master to apprentice, from father to son. Presently, in this village there are a lot of well-known craftsmen as well as whole families of masters like Hămuraru, Zagaevschi, Zolotariov, who have trained many young apprentices in stone carving. This art has now become a local brand and a source of pride for local people. Stone craftsmen in Cosăuţi create custom works for clients in different localities of the country. They have permanent offers of gravestones and grave crosses, historical monuments, crucifixes to be installed at crossroads and near wells in different localities.
Finally, in northern Moldova there are stone masons who carve porous white stone from the pit near the Gordineşti village, Edineţ district.
Withy weaving, or weaving flexible and slender branches, reeds and corn stalks, is an old tradition in Moldova. There are several workshops throughout the country where withy weaving is practiced. In Soroca, Rubleniţa, Reciula, Teleneşti, Manta, and Chişinău, weavers make items out of branches, including furniture (tables, chairs, beds) and bags In Bălţi, Mihăileni village, and Rîşcani district, they use straw to make hats and souvenirs .
And in Criuleni district, Orhei district, Mitoc village, and Chiperceni village, craftsmen use corn stalks and reeds to make dols, souvenirs, hats and bags. Visitors to the workshop will have an opportunity to admire and purchase these unique creations.
Traditionally, wood carving has always been an important trade for men. Wood carvers make decorative elements for houses, fences, gates, and wells; furniture and home furnishings; kitchen utensils; musical instruments; and decorative pieces and handicrafts. Visitors can see examples of this craft at the National Museum of Ethnology and History and at rural museums such as "Casa Parinteasca" (Palanca, Calarasi) and enthnographic museums in Hincesti, Criuleni, Nisporeni, Leova. .
Many rural pensions also possess old elements made of wood, which highlight the traditions of the craft in Moldova. To see the craft practiced today, tourists can visit the Calarasi, Straseni, or Rezina regions in Moldova. The most commonly used species of wood for carving are acacia, ash, cherry, cornel, fir, oak, pine, and walnut.