One of the objects that the shepherd couldn’t do without while he was taking care of animals is “căpceaua”. Also called “căuc”, this cup was used by shepherds to drink water from the springs they encountered on their way or from the wooden trugs where the drinking water was stored at the sheepfold.
The cup in the next image (inv. no. 215) was purchased by Romulus Vuia in Bunila, Hunedoara county, Pădureni Land during the first field campaigns carried out in 1923.
The two parts that make up “căpceaua” (the actual container and the handle) are made by processing a single piece of wood. Subsequently, “căuc” was reinforced with copper wire at the mouth (for better protection) and tied to the handle when part of it cracked. The ovoid, belly shape of the container is completed vertically by the thin handle, made by excision in such a way that it can be easily grasped with the fingers.
The decoration is placed mainly on the contours of the shapes, the container being decorated with an embossed belt, decorated in turn with geometric motifs arranged in lines surrounding the cup belly. The rhombus placed on the front of căuc, in the middle of the belt, is completed by a geometric decoration placed above. The handle is decorated on outline, the lines formed by the “wolf’s tooth” motif emphasizing the handle’s offcut. On one side of the handle, there is a floral motif and some letters (most likely, the initials of the one who had the object), and on the other side, there is year “1894”. At the bottom of căuc, there is a four-leaf rosette circumscribed with the same chain formed by the “wolf’s tooth” motif.
Once an instrument worn by shepherds, “căuc” or “căpcea” became an element that is part of the holiday dress, today being even considered a symbolic-element of the traditional folk costume in Pădureni Land.
Text: Dr. Petac Silvestru – MET museographer
Photo: George Ciupag – MET museographer, photo-video, digital image processing