The method of making riven chests, this medieval craft has been preserved in practice only in Hungary, in the Carpathian Basin’s folk culture.
Hungary and the Carpathian Basin is the centre of this type of traditional chest-making, there can be found many pieces from the 1700s to 1920s even nowadays.
They are called "szuszék", "ácsolt láda" in Hungary .
The carving of the original old chests are reasoned compositions, with beautiful multiple meanings. I follow this tradition - I myself build similar chests, from riven beech with medieval methods. To make such a chest takes a long time, usually one month and half from the beginning to end. I am working on the 70th piece now. On the right side you can see a couple of shots of new chests that I have made. I also make flutes ( in traditional handcarving ), I restore old chests, I also write articles and spend a lot of time researching the old vintage chests. I have an own collection of vintage chests, they are my ancient helping source that I can study. I am very interested in these chests and in the making of them. I've been researching them for a long time, I've written a book about it (Named "Ácsolt ládák titkai = The secrets of riven chests").
I received an „Arany oklevél” (Gold Award) for my riven chests
On 29th october in 2015 was the awards ceremony of „Élő Népművészet” (Living Folk Art) competition in the Néprajzi Múzeum (Ethnographic Museum) in Budapest. This competition is held every five years; in 2015 the folk artists had sent in more than a thousand works of art. In the “folk furniture” category I received an „Arany oklevél” (Gold Award) for my riven chests, and in the „musical instrument” category the „Gránátalma-díj” (=Pomegranate Award - this is the highest in this competition).
„Riven chests and Painted chests in Palóc region”
This is a great travelling exhibition which was organized by the Dobó István Vármúzeum of Eger. The exhibition shows how the dowry chests were used by village people in the past in the Hungarian Palóc Region, and how this rare craft lives on in the present (there are some pictures and real chests from my workshop).
Gyenes Tamás, acsoltlada.hu