Ancient riven chests

and other riven furniture

In the Carpathian Basin there was a very rich history of the riven chests; the last great period of them was from the 1840s to 1920s. It was a rich production of the peasant-craftsmen, although many of these chests were destroyed , there are still many ancient chests in museums or in private collections. We have a collection of vintage chests too (see the pictures), the restoration of the old pieces is one of my favourite activities. We (me and my wife) spend a lot of time researching the old vintage chests (the history and categorizing of chests). We often go to museums and examine and size up old chests in order to improve our knowledge. Since the beginning of my research I have got acquainted with more than 800 pieces only in the Palóc Region, and I can identify more then 35 types of riven wood chests in Carpathian Basin.

There were many types of this vintage furniture, because a lot of craftsmen made riven chests in different parts of the country, for example in Transylvania. The different types have their significant attributes, in form and in decoration. In the pictures you can see some main types of riven chests. In the last great period (as described above) the rural people used them for dowry chests (hope chest); the bride recieved it from her parents, and she put her trousseau into chest. This is the reason why the old craftsmen decorated these chests so beautifully.

In the ancient time there were other furniture types made with this old riving technology, not even the dowry chest. The rural people were made and use wall-shelf, bed, table, cabinet etc. - they were made from riven planks too. Very few objects was left of these types, they rarely can be seen.

Gyenes Tamás,