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Romanian traditional folk motifs carry profound meaning. Traditionally adorning blouses weaved and embroidered by women in their villages, they are showing up on modern designer items, such as bags and jewellery. Pick from the embroidered jewellery designed by Mihaela Ivana, a psychologist with a passion for cultural heritage; or visit Mesteshukar ButiQ for inspiration, a social enterprise which revalues traditional Roma craftsmanship by offering timeless handcrafted silver pieces.
Signaling the arrival of spring, Mărțișor is a small, usually handcrafted object worn by Romanian women from the first day of March. Traditionally made of sliver, nowadays it can take any shape and materials used range from wool, beads, feathers and wool to ceramics and even 3D printed plastic. The common thread is – quite literally – a red and white string with a tassel at each end. Find it at museum shops and wear it year-round as a reminder of your trip to Bucharest.
There’s no better way to bring home a piece of Romanian culture than between the pages of a good book. Start off with a great Romanian novel or, alternatively, feast your eyes on a book of illustrations. Love And Fate For Girls Who Can’t Wait by Romanian illustrator Mădălina Andronic holds a collection of magic spells and rituals aimed at unravelling the mysteries of love. A great pick for any age, it will also serve as a gateway to Romania’s fascinating popular culture.
Romanian design is booming and Bucharest is the country’s creative epicentre. Many of the young up-and-coming designers are getting inspired to give a fresh, modern look to elements of traditional Romanian culture. You will find them on bookmarks, mugs or textile objects, some available at Dizanar. Their collection of pillows which highlight the architectural heritage found in Romania’s historic regions will be just the piece to refresh your interior design.
Romania has a long standing tradition in producing leather goods. Bucharest-based designer Nicoleta Chirică combines craftsmanship and tradition by creating pieces that are contemporary by design and timeless through the ancient symbols they evoke.
When it comes to ceramics, a great choice is the traditional handmade Romanian ceramics collected from all regions of the country and found in the gift shops of Bucharest’s museums. Collections of colourful pottery can be found at the National Village Museum and the National Museum of the Romanian Peasant. Alternatively, go for the original creations of contemporary artists, such as Alina Constantin, whose pieces are found in certain designer shops.
One of the delicacies of Romanian cuisine, rose petal jam is a fragrant mix that tastes like the sun, wind, spring rain, dew and dreams. Luckily, you can find it on the shelves of Bucharest’s gourmet shops and at fairs. One advice when picking is to choose one with a short list of ingredients, and the second is to get several jars, to make sure that at least one will make it home with you. Alternatively, try the green walnut jam, another Romanian specialty!
Romania has a long tradition when it comes to producing cosmetics using nature’s best ingredients and original, innovative techniques. Walking in the footsteps of pioneers such as Ana Aslan, a biologist and physician whose cosmetics line is still being produced, many other passionate people are bringing their expertise to the public through some innovative creams and serums. NN Cosmetics, created by 84-year-old pharmacist Maria Ardelean, and Eladerm, the brainchild of 27-year-old pharmacist Emanuel Lazăr, are just some of the cosmetics brands you should look for in Bucharest.
For Easter, Romanian women paint eggs using a technique passed down from generation to generation, decorating them with lines, shapes and colours, that together, represent ancient motifs. Precious, fragile and eye catching, they make for a great souvenir. Find them at fairs around Easter, or, if visiting out of season, the National Museum of the Romanian Peasant sells them year-round.
Hand painted glass icons are representatives of Romania’s popular culture. Colourful and expressive, they are the meeting point between religious themes, the creativity of the village painters, and art. You can spot them in souvenir shops as well as in museum shops.
Bucharest is the best place to find your favourite Romanian blouse, as well as modern variations of it. Shops stock large and well-curated selections of hand embroidered Romanian blouses, called “ie” in materials such as cotton and silk, and one-of-a-kind colour combinations. Additionally, you will find many objects representative of Romanian traditional crafts, such as dolls, bags and decorative objects.