Room with Painted Furniture from Ajak

Ajak is a village with unique ethnographic and artistic traditions not only in Rétköz, but throughout the whole County of  Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg. The inhabitants here have preserved their customs, costumes and dance traditions and many elements of their traditional material culture for a long time.
The exhibition presents the room from the wealthy peasant family’s traditional material culture. It evokes the period of the 1930s and 50s. The former owner of the furniture is shown on the picture. Miklós Feskó died in 2013. The Rétközi Museum bought the furniture together with the costumes pieces and the textiles used formerly in the family’s household.
Architecturally, Ajak belongs to the territory with house types of the Great Hungarian Plain. This type of house is typical by its three parts in-line, one followed by the other: room – kitchen – chamber, or room – kitchen – room. The street façade is the short end of the house, but the entrance is by the long façade looking to the yard. The farmhouse with two rooms was not uncommon even in the 18th century, but it spread only in the second half of the 19th century. With the appearance of the second room the ben was created, which spread on the regions of the Great Hungarian Plain at the end of the 19th century. This room was the representative place of the house, and it was used only for festive occasions, and it expressed the prestige of the family and its social position in the village. More decorative furniture was placed here, with better quality compared to the ones used in the everyday room.
Basically, there were two ways of layout the furniture in peasant houses: the parallel (central) form and the angular form. In our region – including Ajak – the furniture was generally placed parallel. Opposite to the entrance one bed was placed in each corner, with chairs in front of them. The table stood in the middle, facing the door, behind the table was a bench with armrest. The commode was on one side of the bench, on the other side was the cabinet with glass-door and the sideboard, which is also called sifon or sifony. The surrounding area of the commode was the cultic place of the room. Sacred statues were placed on it and holy pictures above it. The device included in this interior a cradle, indicating that a new-born came into the family. In order to maintain the baby’s health and to keep away the harmful spirits, red ribbon was bound not only on the cradle, but on the wardrobe and on the commode. The traditional peasant furniture from Ajak was decorated by choice with thick painting, which is actually a painting imitating noble wood grain patterns. Such furniture could be ordered from the carpenters Balázs Raizinger – the exhibited have been bought from him – and Illés Kovács.