The artefact of November is măngălău. Also called in certain areas mangalău, tăvălug, maglă, scândură, zolitor, mai de pânză etc., it is made of wood, and in fact it is a long and rectangular board, with a wavy or smooth surface, on which thick cloth laundry, wrapped around a prop, is being rubbed or smoothed. Once the flat iron became widespread in the village world too, the functionality of this type of object underwent changes, from a simple tool for smoothing clothes, used extensively in the household by women, to an object with social function, gradually losing the practical role it had previously. Following the field research from the second half of the 20th century, we know that a series of objects were made of wood, objects that were given by the young man to the young woman he was going to marry - engagement gifts (such as furcă, măngălău, răzușă, etc.).
The gift was not only a symbolic act between lovers, but it was also the way in which the community was informed of the young couple’s intention to form a new family. And like any gift, the young woman would return it by another object, which was offered in exchange for the young man, usually through a woven, sewn object, a handkerchief, an apron, a shirt, etc., and if love and intention were not mutual, then the gift was returned to the young man. Furca reached the young woman for Christmas, răzușa for Pentecost, and măngălău for Easter. It was usually hung on the wall of the room where the future bride was sleeping. As with any object with a social and symbolic role, appearance had great importance, it was the occasion when the young man (usually before enrolling in the army) had the chance to prove how skilled he was in the art of woodworking, but also how much in love he was with the young woman.
Măngălău in the image has inventory no. 9471, length of 63.4 cm, width of 6.4 cm, length of the rolling pin is 50 cm, with a diameter of 3.2 cm. It has an elongated rectangular shape, transversal streaks on one side, on the other side being decorated with plant, floral and solar motifs, made by incision and excision, motifs also highlighted by colors (blue, green and red). The handle ends with a tulip-shaped cut, and at the other end, there is a bird, in relief, leaving entirely the plane of the board. The two longitudinal sides are also carefully filled, on one side, it is inscribed in Hungarian: ÉLJEN AKI KÉSZITETE MOLNÁR LÁSZLÓ KÉSZÜLT 1950 BEN A NAGY IRÉNKE RÉSZÉRE, on the other side it is written: PIROS RÓZSA KÉKNEFELECS KEDVES EL NE FELECS MERT ÉN SZIVBŐL SZERETLEK (in trans. Long live Molnár László, the one who made it in 1950 for Nagy Irénke), on the other side, there is written PIROS RÓZSA KÉKNEFELECS KEDVES EL NE FELECS MERT ÉN SZIVBŐL SZERETLEK (in trans. red rose and forget-me-not, dear don’t forget me, I love you with all my heart).
Older specimens have only the initials of the one who sculpted them, or of the girl for whom they were intended, sometimes also/only the year in which the gift was made. On most newer objects, like the one we presented above, there is not only the name and year, but also wishes and love messages. The use of colors, in order to increase the effect of the decor, is another important indication that it is a relatively new object.
The presented object comes from the village of Deja, Sălățig township, Sălaj county and it entered the collection of the Transylvanian Museum of Ethnography in 1954, together with other 287 objects purchased following two ethnographic research campaigns carried out in that area.