A History of Harta

Related Articles

Related Articles

Harta is a village located 100 km south of Budapest, Hungary on the banks of the River Danube, famed for its bespoke artisan craftsmanship, unique floral art and local village customs that sets it apart from the rest of Hungary.

The surrounding area of Harta shows evidence of occupation first dating to the Neolithic period (approximately 5000 BC) by archaeological evidence of a Linear Pottery settlement at Hart-Gátőrház. The settlement is a prime reference tool for Neolithic building construction, containing period buildings that include a large long house, rectangular enclosures, grain pits, pottery and several burials. Settlement carried on through to the Bronze Age, where the rich landscape gave rise to a high density of Bronze Age settlements that settled the fertile land fed by the Danube for farming.

In the Roman period, Harta would have been part of the Roman Province of Pannonia. Pannonia was bounded north and east by the Danube, coterminous westward with Noricum and upper Italy, and southward with Dalmatia and upper Moesia. Pannonia was located over the territory of the present-day western Hungary, eastern Austria, northern Croatia, north-western Serbia, northern Slovenia, western Slovakia and northern Bosnia and Herzegovina.

 

Roman occupation is evident in the “Country House” (Village Museum) that contains carved stones and a collection of Roman bricks dated from the 4th century by a stamp mentioning Emperor Maxentius (Roman Emperor from 306 to 312). Other discoveries include Roman coins, jewellery and examples of terra sigillata, a type of fine red ancient Roman pottery with glossy surface slips.

The Harta museum contains further evidence of nearby Roman occupation thanks to the discovery of recycled Roman masonry and gravestones found in the basement of an adjacent Harta dwelling.

Recycled Roman gravestone discovered in a nearby Harta house – Presently exhibited at the Harta Museum

Recycled Roman gravestone discovered in a nearby Harta house – Presently exhibited at the Harta Museum

Recycled Roman material discovered in a nearby Harta house – Presently exhibited at the Harta Museum

Following centuries of successive habitation by various tribes of “Celts”, Romans, and the Avars, the roots of Harta in the country of Hungary was laid in the late 9th century when the Hungarian grand prince Árpád conquered the Carpathian Basin and settled the Magyars.

Reconstruction of how one of the buried Magyar Hungarians would have looked

In 2002, archaeologists discovered a cemetery complex in Harta called the “settlement burial ground” or the Freifelt cemetery that dates to the 10th century comprising of wealthy middle class Magyars. Two linear rows of graves revealed a total of 22 burials, containing rich grave goods and ornate artefacts.

A genetic analysis of the anthropological material from the graves revealed that the genetic imprints of 11 different families were identified and peculiarly, contained no blood relatives.

Hungary saw a stable period of rule until the outbreak of the Ottoman-Hungarian wars, which was a series of battles and struggle for power between the Ottoman Empire and the medieval Kingdom of Hungary.

After 150 years of war with the Hungarians, the Ottomans gained a decisive victory in 1526 at the Battle of Mohácsin, where King Louis II subsequently died while fleeing.

Amid the resulting political chaos, the divided Hungarian nobility elected two kings simultaneously to rule, John Zápolya and Ferdinand I of the Habsburg dynasty.

With the conquest of Buda by the Turks in 1541, Hungary was divided into three parts and remained so until the end of the 17th century.

The NW part was termed as “Royal Hungary” and was annexed by the Habsburgs who ruled as Kings of Hungary.

The eastern part of the kingdom became independent as the Principality of Transylvania, under Ottoman (and later Habsburg) suzerainty. The remaining central area, including the capital Buda, was known as the Pashalik of Buda where Harta became occupied by the Turkish forces.

The ethnic composition of Hungary was fundamentally changed as a consequence of the prolonged warfare with the Turks. A large part of the country became devastated, population growth was stunted, and many smaller settlements that included Harta subsequently perished.

The Austrian-Habsburg government settled large groups of Serbs and other Slavs in the depopulated south, and settled Germans (called Danube Swabians) in various areas, but Hungarians were not allowed to settle or re-settle in the south of the Great Plain.

The first new settlers to Harta came in 1723 from the German Rhein region, from the provinces of Hessen-Pfalz and Württemberg and they settled down on the Harta estate of landowner Pál Ráday. More recently, one of the original boats constructed from pine beams used by the settlers to traverse the Danube was unearthed and sits today on the river’s edge as testament to the villager’s migration.

Pine beam boat used by the settlers to navigate the Danube

By 1877, Harta flourished as a populous village of wealth, inhabited by both some Hungarians and the more predominant German settlers, creating a fusion of art and rural tradition. This is partly attributed to the settlers having limited contact with the neighbouring Hungarian and Slavic nationals and subsequently, few external influences has enabled Harta to maintain its cultural identity and customs that survives to this day.

The village of Harta

The men wore traditional Hessian dress (German), made from woven linen trousers tucked into long boots. The ’smizljank’ or long sleeved winter jacket is commonly blue with ornate motives worn under a black waistcoat.

The women wore ‘cviklstrimp’ stockings and a tight-fitting, low front sleeveless top (covered by a finely decorated scarf) that was usually black, over a long white shirt and hand knitted shoes.

Traditional Harta clothing

The outbreak of World War II proved to be devastating to Harta by the conclusive defeat of the Axis forces. Nearly 100 residents of the village lost their lives in the war, and following 292 inhabitants were deported for forced labour in the Ukraine. An Interstate Convention decreed that 287 German families from Harta were expatriated and 243 Hungarian families were resettled in the village. This has led to a period of joint reconciliation where after 1949 some of the displaced Swabian population has since returned.

Traditional Harta home – Image Credit : Harta Museum

Traditional Harta stove and kitchen – Image Credit : Harta Museum

Traditional Harta home – Image Credit : Harta Museum

Harta today has become of the most significant centres of folk furniture painting in Hungary, both in terms of the quantity and the quality of the furniture produced (often from memory) where the village is considered a major artisan crafts centre in the “Reform Age.”

The settled Germans were self-sufficient in terms of furniture making and produced natural coloured carved hardwood engraved in the Baroque style. It was common for the furniture to be engraved with a date, generally the date of manufacture or commissioned for celebration such as a birth date. The earliest known painted furniture produced in Harta was made in 1820.

Traditional Harta furniture – Credit & thanks to Kuruc János

Traditional Harta furniture – Credit & thanks to Kuruc János

Traditional Harta furniture – Credit & thanks to Kuruc János

Traditional Harta furniture – Credit & thanks to Kuruc János

Traditional Harta furniture – Credit & thanks to Kuruc János

Traditional Harta furniture – Credit & thanks to Kuruc János

In addition to the knowledge that the German settlers brought with them, the culture of the surrounding Hungarian market towns and the effects of the cabinetmakers’ and woodworkers’ centres in Sarkoz and along the Danube can be discovered on the style of the painted furniture of Harta.

Should you ever visit Hungary, you will find examples of the Harta craftsmanship in every gift shop across the country, but should you wish to see the genuine example, then several people still preserve the tradition of furniture making in the village, most notably Peter and Mary Schneider who’s award winning works from their Harta workshop are exhibited in National exhibitions.

The Harta Museum gives an insight as to the traditional life in Harta and has recreated a typical Harta home with period furniture and clothing. Find out more

A traditional Harta wedding (Language – German with Hungarian subtitles)

 

This article is dedicated to the memory of Kuruc János

 

 

Download the HeritageDaily mobile application on iOS and Android

More on this topic

LATEST NEWS

The Modhera Sun Temple

The Sun Temple is an ancient Hindu temple complex located on a latitude of 23.6° (near Tropic of Cancer) on the banks of the Pushpavati river at Modhera in Gujarat, India.

Scientists Hunt For Lost WW2 Bunkers Designed to Hold Off Invasion

New research published by scientists from Keele, Staffordshire and London South Bank Universities, has unveiled extraordinary new insights into a forgotten band of secret fighters created to slow down potential invaders during World War Two.

Sea Ice Triggered the Little Ice Age

A new study finds a trigger for the Little Ice Age that cooled Europe from the 1300s through mid-1800s, and supports surprising model results suggesting that under the right conditions sudden climate changes can occur spontaneously, without external forcing.

The Two Fanjingshan Temples

Fanjingshan Temple is actually two temples, located on the “Red Clouds Golden Summit or Golden Peak” on Fanjingshan Mountain (also known as Mount Fanjing), the highest point of the Wuling Mountains in southwestern China.

Venus’ Ancient Layered, Folded Rocks Point to Volcanic Origin

An international team of researchers has found that some of the oldest terrain on Venus, known as tesserae, have layering that seems consistent with volcanic activity. The finding could provide insights into the enigmatic planet's geological history.

Undersea Earthquakes Shake up Climate Science

Despite climate change being most obvious to people as unseasonably warm winter days or melting glaciers, as much as 95 percent of the extra heat trapped on Earth by greenhouse gases is held in the world's oceans.

Raids and Bloody Rituals Among Ancient Steppe Nomads

Ancient historiographers described steppe nomads as violent people dedicated to warfare and plundering.

Ancient Human Footprints in Saudi Arabia Give Glimpse of Arabian Ecology 120000 Years Ago

Situated between Africa and Eurasia, the Arabian Peninsula is an important yet understudied region for understanding human evolution across the continents.

Popular stories

The Secret Hellfire Club and the Hellfire Caves

The Hellfire Club was an exclusive membership-based organisation for high-society rakes, that was first founded in London in 1718, by Philip, Duke of Wharton, and several of society's elites.

Port Royal – The Sodom of the New World

Port Royal, originally named Cagway was an English harbour town and base of operations for buccaneers and privateers (pirates) until the great earthquake of 1692.

Matthew Hopkins – The Real Witch-Hunter

Matthew Hopkins was an infamous witch-hunter during the 17th century, who published “The Discovery of Witches” in 1647, and whose witch-hunting methods were applied during the notorious Salem Witch Trials in colonial Massachusetts.

Did Corn Fuel Cahokia’s Rise?

A new study suggests that corn was the staple subsistence crop that allowed the pre-Columbian city of Cahokia to rise to prominence and flourish for nearly 300 years.