The National Centre for the Preservation and Promotion of Traditional Culture awarded the "Living Human Treasure" title to master skinner Dumitru Sofonea from Dragus, the county of Brasov. This title award became possible by a program initiated by the Ministry of Culture, Cults and National Patrimony and was conferred to preservers and transmitters of identity cultural values from all over the country. Only five craftsmen of Romania out of numerous files were selected at the first stage of this program. Dumitru Sofonea was one of those.
The First Craftsman awarded with an Honorary Title
The recommendation and file compilation for this award nomination were carried out by a team of researchers from the County Centre for the Preservation and Promotion of Traditional Culture of Brasov. The people from Brasov are proud that Dumitru Sofonea is the first craftsman of this county awarded with such a title. The title award ceremony was organized at the Cultural Centre of Dragus, marked by an exceptional folk show performed by people of all ages, from kindergarten children to elderly people.
The Costumes of "Cheptărite" (women wearing vests)
Deeply touched, Dumitru Sofonea and his wife were also awarded the "Citizen of Honour" title by the Mayor of Dragus, Mr. Gheorghe Sucaciu apart from the "Living Human Treasure". "It's an honour for us to have this title awarded in our commune thanks to craftsman Dumitru Sofonea. It is he who made our commune famous both in Romania and abroad through the costumes of "cheptarite" from Dragus. The bright colors of the folk costumes embrace the entire stage, red being used for the apron and dark purple for "cheptarita" (vest). In the end the colour combination is breathtaking," concluded the Mayor.
Sofonea, the Apprentice
"I started to practice this trade ever since the first grade. I worked as an apprentice and the only light source I had were two glass oil lamps, with wick and glass bulb. Though we were young, my father did not let us stare at him while working. He would urge us to start using the needle and sow. This is how I learned this trade, passed from father to son. And it paid off when I received this title that not only myself, but the entire village was proud of," said Dumitru Sofonea, talking about his work.
An evening sitting put an end to the event, where everyone had his/her well-defined role within the community, from reeling spun yarn off the ball and corn crushing to spinning done by women using a distaff which holds the flax and using other evening-sitting specific tools.