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The permanent collection of the Szatmári Museum

 

The Szatmári Musem was established in 1975 and since then it has been functioning as a noted  center of spiritual and objective inheritance of the region.The former Lieutenant house, the so called Péchy-palace, gave home to the museum which preserves the exhibition of  Marianne Gábor- an internationally recognised painter, as well as the ceramics of Klára Kertész and the manuscript legacy of Margit Luby,an ethnographist.

On the corridors carves, folk-art decoration, interior design, shoe-making relics from the Szatmár-Bereg region are on display.In addition there are two periodic exhibition halls with continuously renewing monthly exhibitions.

However, the most significant collection of the museum is its carriage-, wagon- and equipage- collection that is the largest in Central-Europe.It contains over 100 pieces well-illustrating the different ways of burden-carrying and personal (civil and noble) transportation. All types of animal-drawn vehicles ever used in the country can be found here. They are exhibited in a special circle-panorame format. Right beside them one can visit  the collection of agricultural devices as well as the workshops of   the carriage-making trade, such as wheel-making and forgery.

 

The history of the animal-drawn vehicles: carriages, wagons, equipages and sleighs

 

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Compared to the transportation of the past, the traffic on the roads today has completely changed: nowadays travelling by road equals in meaning to travelling by car.  However the plough pulled by oxen, the two-wheel cart, the four-wheel carriage or even the sleigh have already belonged to the cultural history of mankind for over 5000 years . From the noble coaches to the horse-drawn  cannon-carts and hay-carriages several kinds of technological procedures and skill perfected these vehicles.

The vehicles had to adjust to the various road or soil conditions. As a result  regional types of carriages were constructed. Their rich variety perfectly illustrates the inventiveness and adaptability, that is, the  mental conditions necessary for material improvement.

Most of the vehicles are the result of collective work even if  lexicons connect them to one single person. However, the longer we  travel back in time, the fewer names we can find. The invention of wagons cannot be related to only one person as in the case of any vehicles the development  is gradual. As a result of several ways of perfection finally it reached its culmination at the beginning of the 20th century.

If we move back through in time to find the ancestor of the carriage we can find a plate placed on wheels.

            Undoubtedly the two-wheel cart and the four-wheel carriage were created at a higher degree of the production process; when it was necessary to use improved and perfected  means of work. Hence it depended on the development of  forces of production.

            The invention of the wheel and the axis was  preceded by quite hard brain-work although we tend to consider them to be obvious in retrospect.

In order to value the importance of an invention we need to go back to the conditions and surrounding that brought  it into life.

            As for the prehistoric man  neither did he start to carry his burden with the help of carriages. Simpler ways of transportation preceded this vehicle. The simplest one was when he pulled an object with the help of a bast string.This method was followed by an improved one  when the object was pulled on tree branches. It was the ancestor of the sleigh. After the slide appeared. One way of the development was from the sleigh to the carriage.

            The biggest problem was caused by the creation of the wheel. As there is no carriage without wheels it can be stated that the story of the carriage is as old as the story of the wheel.  Several theories were established in connection with the origin of the wheel. What was the first wheel like?

 

The answer is quite simple: in no way was it constructed   with spokes. It seems rather obvious from the relics that the first was a full one. Gradually it was perfected through  a number of stages until the wheel with spokes was formed.

            Nowadays it is undoubted  that the carriage was invented by the Hungarians ,or rather to say, it was  developed from the various  Hungarian types  made by Hungarian wheel-makers.

            How did the carriage used by peasants turn into a coach? In 1485 King Matthias replaced  his centre from Buda to the conquered Vienna and created the  first post service, the so-called coach-service,  between the two cities.              At every4-5 miles  on this route a station and a feeding-house were built. One of them was in the settlement Kocs in Komárom county.People living here had a direct contact with it and could see how important the speed had in road traffic. The wheel-makers of Kocs built a convenient type of the coach on which even 75 kilometers could be covered in a day.

            In contrast with the equipage the Hungarian coach was a fairly light and fast carriage  compared to the 16th century conditions. Its flexibility  resulted from its light frame and also from the wheels made of selected hard-wood .The fact of how the Hungarian word for equipage,’swinging carriage’, was replaced by the name of a light carriage abroad could be explaned by linguistics and etimology.

            The word ’coach’itself was an attributive to the word of carriage; even in the last century can one find the expression of ’coach-carriage’. The root of the expression gradually disappeared and the atrributive became an independent word. The word ’kocsi’ can be found in all European languages: in German it is the ’Kusche’, in French it is the ’coche’, in Spanish it is the ’koche’, in Italian it is the ’cocci’, in English it is the ’coach’,  in Polish it is the ’kocz’,in Flemish it is the ’ goetse’, in Swedish it is the ’kush’, and around Caucasus and Small-Asia it is referred to as ’madzsar’. The word appeared in European languages only in the 16th century. In Hungary it was frequently used   already in the 15th century.

            The  coach became widely–used not only in Hungary but also in other countries. First it appeared    in the neighbouring Austria, then in the countries of the German-Roman Empire. In Paris it was a real spectacularity admired and recognised by many.

            Travelling by coach got more and more widespread and paralelly did comfort develop. Not only was it used for practical reasons but also for entertainment. It provided  an opportunity for people to show off, that is,  the coach became the means of luxury and prodigality.

 

 

 

Animal-drawn vehicles in the Szatmári Museum

 

Animal–drawn vehicles roll or slide  and are  pulled by animals. Two types of them can be distinguished: one group of them is used for carrying people, the other is for carrying some kind of burden. Both of them can be two- (cart) or four-wheeled (carriage, coach, equipage). The animals can be: ox, cow, donkey or horse.

            The two-wheeled construction that is pulled by a horse put between two poles and controlled by traces is called a cart. The cart that is used for carrying some kind of burden is the trap. Among the animal-drawn vehicles these are the simplest ones. With the help of their huge wheels they can easily roll even under severe road conditions. They are pulled by horse, donkey or mule.

            Carriages had an inevitable role in the life of Szatmár people. It was suitable to carry heavy burden and was pulled by  cattle in yoke, or horse by traces. The agriculture could not exist without them. The carriages used in Szatmár are rather similar at the first sight but after a closer look two identical ones can hardly be found. The differences are based on the method of use, the type of animal used and also on the material used for its construction. The regional types of the Hungarian carriages can be linked to wheel-making centres. The living conditions, the way of living, the local circumstances, the users’ habits and demands all contributed  to the regional differences.

            The carriage, which was a part of everyday life had an important role in family occasions , like christening, wedding, funeral.

In the collection of the Szatmári Museum the main types  and variants of the carriages can be found. It is worth mentioning the ’nyírségi cart’, the ’wickered’-, the ’pig-carrier’-,the ’market’-, the ’boarded’-, the ’jászsági’-,the ’snake-ironed’- carriages of the Szatmár region. The snake as a cultic animal protected its passenger from bad happenings or illnesses.

            The other type of carriages were used for transporting people and were drawn by horses. They were characterized by sophisticated aesthetic lineation, light structure and fine quality. They can be grouped  on the basis of their form as, driving-, town-, open-,hansom cab, covered-, combined-, company-, tarantasz coaches.

In case of driving- and town-coaches the regional features disappear. In spite of this fact several of them still preserve the name of the settlement or region  where they come from: cseklészi, csurgói, fóti, körösi, móri, vásárhelyi.

Besides these attributives a few of them  keep the name of their owner: Eszterházy, Károlyi László, Károlyi József, Cziráky coaches.It is well-known  the these latter ones were developed according to what the owner had seen abroad and what their smith and wheelwright could carry out.

It is certain, however, that  apart from the various kinds of international coaches, several excellent Hungarian types  were made that later became famous and widely-used abroad as well.For example: Kölber’s hansom coach, Viktória coach, Károlyi coach, Cziráky coach, group hunting coach,small, medium and  heavy buggy, pump coach, water-coach(these two for extinguishing fire), mourning coach.

 

            The equipages are gala coaches with open or covered  seat-box and with the help of springs they provide a pleasant, swinging feeling for their passengers.

            One feature of the ornamental equipages is that their seat-box is usually a coupee and the coachman’s box is separate,  covered with material and decorated with frogging.At the back  there is a standing stool  with a ladder and grasper rod for the servant. The ornamental lamps are high at the top in corner positions. This type of equipages is heavier than the normal ones and their colour expressed the social position and rank of their owner.

           

            In Hungary travelling and transporting by sleigh were not as widespread and developed as in Russia or Poland where the roads were  covered with thick layers of snow during the long winter months.

The shape of the Hungarian sleigh was similar to that of the driving-coach. It was higher than the Russian or Polish one hence overturned more easily.

            The village sleigh used by peasants was similar to the driving-coach in its arched entrance, chiselled side-boards and backed-seats. Cuddling to the swan-neck of the sleigh a mirror-sheet protected those sitting on the front seat.

 

            Due to the significant transportation in the Carpathian Basin in the Middle Ages  a high-level of  forwarding-culture evolved. The reason why the coach became  so famous in West-Europe and elsewhere too was that it unified the requirements of personal and goods transportation as well as  of quickness..

            The collection of carriages, coaches and equipages in Mátészalka provides a rich choice of these vehicles that can be got to know more easily with the help of homepage.