WIT Press

Narratives of vernacular habitat in Maramureș


Free (open access)


Volume 7 (2022), Issue 4



Page Range

373 - 387

Paper DOI



WIT Press


Andra Camelia Clițan


To preserve the harmony within a vernacular habitat, a delicate balance between living space, nature, and community must be maintained. This paper analyzes local communities from Maramureș, Romania, and their sustainable ways of living, and it also discusses the use of locally sourced materials in building settlements: a cautious combination of progressively integrating contemporary living solutions with preserving the powerful local heritage. Such initiatives become more challenging given that new, modern developments and rapid industrial changes tempt people away from ancient custom. In order to sustain the traditional habitat, as fundamental for the heritage preservation initiative, it is necessary to guide villagers in finding value and beauty locally and discourage them from migrating towards bigger cities or other countries. Based on two case studies of local craftsmen, Maria Zapca, a weaver from Săpânța, and Daniel Leș, a potter from Baia Sprie, the journey starts in Săpânța, home of the UNESCO heritage site The Merry Cemetery where the physical fabric of the place lends itself to sustaining local crafts and craftsmen. However, this is not an isolated case: Maramureș is famous throughout the world for its material culture such as wooden churches with tall spires – seven of them listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites – alongside a multitude of home decorating fabrics and traditional attire still made and used by locals. Regional resources such as clay, wood, stone, wool, or hemp stand as fundamentals in shaping the vernacular habitat. Furthermore, the region is well-known for preserving customs and practices, which emphasize local group members’ lineage to the wider community. People are proud of their heritage and are connected to the cultural values that help shape their identity.


craftsman, cultural site, environment, habitat, heritage, Maramureș, sustainability, vernacular.