The Wieliczka Salt Mine, located near Krakow, Poland, has been exploited since the 13th century and was listed in the United Nations World Heritage List in 1978. The salt mine has 9 floors underground, 245 kilometers of tunnels, and 2391 caverns for business, meetings, and praying. It is one of the oldest and largest salt mines in Europe. As a national historical site of Poland, millions of people from all over the world travel here every year. Today, as we walk into this underground maze from the perspective of a wood lover, the mystery of the salt mine lies not only in the magnificent world of ancient underground spectacle and salt, but also the ubiquitous wood shelters which lead people to pursue the salt miners' steps and feel their work and life, diligence and wisdom.
Ukiyo-e is an iconic form of Japanese art. This woodblock print used to be a source of entertainment in the Edo era (1603- 1868) but has been diminishing since waves of modernization came 150 years ago. Thanks to generations of craftsmen and publishers striving to pass on the craftsmanship, we are fortunate to see the beautifully reprinted ukiyo-e and newly designed woodblock prints today. Wood materials and papers of high standard are also keys to the production of multicolored woodblock prints. This video is to reveal the invisible parts behind each copy of ukiyo-e and acknowledge the people who devote their life to safeguard Japan’s wood legacy.
The Grand Sawara festival has a history of 300 years. It is indeed one of the biggest festivals in Tokyo, Japan. During the festivals, Dashi is always under spotlight. Each Dashi is composed of one giant sacred doll which represents the Japanese deity and a shrine that is elaborately decorated. And Ikkyō Kitazawa is specialized in designing and engraving the surrounding walls of Dashi.
Nepal is a multiethnic country, including more than 59 indigenous groups which constitutes 40% of its total population. Many of the communities fully depend on forest and timber products for survival, entertainment and religious purposes. Wood is an indispensable part of their live, though its importance is diminishing due to the influx of cheap alternatives. Meanwhile, attempts are made by individuals and groups to preserve and promote their tradition of using wood.
IWCS team visited 3 of the major ethnic groups, namely Newar, Tharu and Chepang, in Kathmandu, Dang and Chitwan to explore their distinguished and diversified wood culture and introduced some of them to the global audiences in the 2016 World Wood Day celebration at Nepal Academy.
Known for their brightly painted depictions of fantastical creatures, Alebrijes have become a sustainable livelihood for many artists residing in Oaxaca, Mexico. Learning to craft the intricate woodcarvings takes years to master and the most respected carvers have worked tirelessly in developing their own distinct style.
Upholding the philosophy of “small production but high quality,” Italian violin workshop Paolo Vettori & Sons has practiced its craft for three generations. Paolo Vettori is profoundly influenced by his father, Dario Vettori, on the techniques, structure and style of violin-making. Now, his children, Dario II, Lapo, and Sofia are working together to continue the tradition established by their grandfather Dario Vettori in 1935.
Xochimilco lies 28 km south of Mexico City. Its network of canals and artificial islands are the efforts of the Aztec people built on a habitat in the midst of an unfavorable environment. It is said these islands had very high crop yields with up to 7 crops a year. The artificial and floating island called chinampas’ transportation is the colorful non-motorized wooden boats- “trajineras”, which sails through the 170 km. canals. Trees such as “āhuexōtl” or “āhuēhuētl” is an important part of the ecosystem, planted at the corners to secure the chinampa and act as wind breakers. The ecological reserve Xochimilco was added to World Heritage Site in 1987, but the area is facing severe problems, posed by development pressures, changes to land-use, abandonment and contamination.
Abyaneh is a small mountain village, located 55km to the north of Kashan. Its unique geographical traits have enabled the locals' culture, customs, clothing and language to be better preserved. The his and hers door knockers on the wooden doors can also be found in the village. Men and women use different knockers, which make different sounds, in order to remind the house owner which gender should be answering this visit.
Xochimilco lies 28 km south of Mexico City. Its network of canals and artificial islands are the efforts of the Aztec people built on a habitat in the midst of an unfavorable environment. It is said these islands had very high crop yields with up to 7 crops a year. The artificial and floating island called chinampas’ transportation is the colorful non-motorized wooden boats- “trajineras”, which sails through the 170 km. canals. Trees such as“āhuexōtl" or "āhuēhuētl" is an important part of the ecosystem, planted at the corners to secure the chinampa and act as wind breakers. The ecological reserve Xochimilco was added to World Heritage Site in 1987, but the area is facing severe problems, posed by development pressures, changes to land-use, abandonment and contamination.
Shawo Village is located in Hebei province of China, with about 270 households. Hundreds of years ago, almost every household of the village turned wooden bowls by foot-powered lathe. Besides bowls, they also made other wooden cooking utensils, tool-handles, small toys by other small hand-powered lathe. Today, only six elderly grandpas in the village can use the lathe. The younger generation, led by Li Xuemin who is in deep love and respect to the past, realized the important and responsibility of the inheritance and began to learn the technique from the elders.
With the support from various part of the society including the strong support from International Wood Culture Society and AAW, local inheritors are more encouraged and exert themselves to move forward. In the video, you can see the essence of the traditional set-turning technique of Shawo village. The demonstrator is 84-year-old Cheng Jinqing and his apprentice Li Xuemin.
The reassembled Khufu ship is just located beside the Khufu Pyramid, and it can be dated back to 2500 B.C. During the 1950s, archaeologists discovered that thousands of wooden pieces were pressed under huge limestones. Surprisingly, there was only one wooden oak that was broken after almost 4,500 years. Also, we have found related wall paintings in the tomb of Ty, a noble's tomb that can be dated back to 2500 B.C. The only difference is that Khufu ship is driven by manpower, while most of the wall paintings are about sailing boats, which are wind-driven.
Nashtifan is close to the border of Iran and Afghanistan. Here, 120 days out of a year are windy, which allows windmills to function well. Some scholars have proposed that these wooden windmills are the origin of the first windmills, which then spread to China in the east and Europe in the west. Pine wood, which grows in the neighborhood forest, is usually used as the axis of the windmill.
The 71-year-old woodcarver, Mr. Mohammad Mohammadzadeh, developed his interest in woodcarving at the age of 4 due to family influence. He kept on challenging himself throughout his career with different kinds of woodworks. Among all, as a Hajj himself, his favorite topic is about Islam, such as the inlaid Quran stand.
The Far North District includes the northern tip of the North Island, New Zealand. Located in Waipoua Forest, Tane Mahuta, the Lord of the Forest, is known as the biggest living kauri tree in New Zealand. And in the town Kaitaia lives the Master Waka Builder Hekenukumai Hector Busby, who has built over 30 waka and voyaged to Hawaii and Easter Island without modern navigation instruments.
Among the Far North District, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds is the most important place that preserves the cultural heritage of Maori. The Waitangi Treaty Grounds is where the Treaty of Waitangi sighed in 1840, and preserves the Treaty House, the Carved Meeting House, the Flagstaff, and the biggest Ceremonial War Canoe. The meeting house plays a significant role in Maori's culture and history. All the wooden sculptures around the meeting house represent their ancestors of their tribes, and the meeting house itself is also an important and sacred venue for ceremonies held by Maori people.
There’s a village called Choubin in Neyshabour, which means “made of wood” in Persian. All buildings in this area including mosque, library, and even a gigantic residence are not only built of pure wood, but also featuring quake-resistant. Various kinds of timber, such as pine, walnut, and cherry are used and combine in numerous constructions.
Kachina is a culture which can best represent the Native Americans in Southwestern United States. The Kachina is a symbol of spirits or the simulacra of everything in the real world, from ancestors to a concept. The Hopi Kachina Dolls are carved in the form and concept as such and are used to educate children the ways of life, thus the spiritual faith and carving technique may come into heritage. They show us the unique outlook on life and cosmology of Hopis.
The Menominee Cultural Museum in Keshena was opened in Nov. 2011. Artifacts of the tribe from the past and present are in display. It took the organizers nearly 20 years to put it together and establish the museum, and they are working to educate the general public about the culture of the tribe.
Ohlone Tribe, a Native American People lived in California coast from San Francisco Bay through Monterey Bay to the lower Salinas Valley in the late 18th century. The Ohlone Indian culture can be explored at the Chitactac-Adams County Heritage Park, which emphasizes a unique view into the Native American culture of Santa Clara area. In Ohlone lives, the baskets that made from willow sticks and sedge roots played an essential role. The Ohlone basket-weaving technique was once lost and later restored by Linda Yamane, who made her first tribal basket in 1994.
The Peruvian territory was once home to ancient cultures spanning from Caral, one of the oldest civilizations in the world, to the Inca Empire, the largest empire in Pre-Columbian America. Cusco was the historic capital of the Inca Empire, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983. Today, rich and ancient traditions are still preserved by Quechua people, such as; gratitude to Pachamama through Holy Wood, traditional weaving with simple wooden tools, a carefully guarded bread recipe that uses eucalyptus wood in the process and, musical instruments connected to Andean cosmology.
A thousand years ago, Saint Romuald founded the Sacred Hermitage and Monastery of Camaldoli in the forest a thousand meters above the sea level in Tuscany, Italy. The resources provided by both exotic and regional trees have been a support for the daily life, and as a protection to the monastery. The beauty of the mutualism between the monks and the trees is well demonstrated in this forest.
Dai village is in transition from traditional materials to modern ones. Traditional Dai-style houses retained original topography for decades, but many wood, stone and other natural materials are being replaced by modern materials.
A girl interprets her vision and hearing about the village where she comes from, the Wa tribe in China, and the imagery of the village and movements of villagers are like a documentary vividly presented within her mind. The Wa tribe is undergoing the cultural transformation, and Wa wood drum becomes the crucial cultural element for them to reclaim and preserve what they have missed from the ancestors.
Kilwa Kisiwani (which means "Kilwa of the Island") is located off the coast of Tanzania, East Africa. This thriving seaport was once being forgotten, but now is a protected site in the list of UNESCO world Heritage.
Kilwa Kisiwani was subjugated to different races, including Persian (Iranian nowadays), Portuguese and Arabian due to its superior geographic location for trading. It was once a famous seaport but lost its glory since the mid-19th century. There are still around 1000 residents living in this tranquil island at the present time.
People dwell in huts that are made of palm leaves and logs, which are collected from trees on the island. Villagers build and repair dhows for fishing. Fishing is the main economic activity, but after Kilwa Kisiwani being listed as the world heritage, the newly developed eco-tourism has brought in additional income for villagers.
Located 180 km west from city Arusha, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) is a reserve with 8292 km2 land and is recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The main feature of NCA is the Ngorongoro Crater, a large volcanic caldera formed around 3 million years ago when a giant volcano exploded. This natural enclosure is populated by a wide variety of wild animals, including herds of wildebeest, zebra, antelopes…etc.
Apart from wild life, Maasai tribe is another feature to observe in NCA. The Maasai is a semi-nomadic group of people whose lifestyle centers on their cattle. Moreover, around NCA, there is a lake named Eyasi where Hadzabe and Datoga people still live in a traditional life.
The traditional Malay house is a wooden one and serves the housing needs of people living in the rural areas of Malaysia. Since Malaysia is located in the tropical area, the house is designed to meet certain standards to adapt their needs, culture and climate.
The town of Baham is located at the Western Province of the Republic of Cameroon. Given that Baham is close to rainforests and up on a mountainous region, the temperature is rather mild. In the region around Baham there are a total of 16 villages. Residential settlements disperse from the center of the town, and one can see lively neighborhood. Peasants and children either stroll or do house chores along the sandy trails that go up and down the hills. Most of the residents still lead a relatively original life and live on farming and trading. Therefore, the use of firewood and wooden construction materials for small residential cabins are easily seen everywhere.
The Highland Folk Museum is a living history site with an area of 32 hectares. In 1955, the open-air museum is open to public with portray of domestic and working condition of the old highlanders, showing how they used to build homes, decorate houses, till soils, weave wools and dress. It encapsulates aspects of 200 years of Highland rural life, starting from the early 1700s until the present day.
According to the stone remain of each house base, the carpenters and archaeology professors from University of Glasgow are working together on an experimental project on how the wooden roof would be built and how the interior would be arranged in the past.
The museum interpreted the highland folk history by re-locate and re-create buildings and features, such as schools, farms and shops, plus monthly programs, including various workshops and music events held to provide visitors an engaging experience of the town life.
Inaugurated in 2006, The National Museum of Scotland is located in central Edinburgh. The galleries have a wide-range of collections from the age of dinosaurs, related to the technology and about the history of art and design. The museum, exhibition of which covers both natural and cultural displays, is one of the most important places to discover the story of Scotland.
Starting from relics of Iron Age, to the Formula racing car, the gallery exhibits a series of collections that present the origins of Scottish history to the present day. Wooden collections are various in the museum, including the oak sculpture of St Luke back in 1500s, the industry mining machines, etc.
The name Salzkammergut, meaning “Salt Chamber" in German, was derived from the Imperial Salt Chamber, the authority that ran the salt mines during the Habsburg Empire.
The salt mine, located at Hallstatt, dates back 7000 years. There are many wooden relics left in it by the miners back in time. It has therefore been an important excavation for the archeological projects conducted by the Naturhistorisches Museum at Vienna. In addition to wooden digging and collecting tools, there is a world-famous Bronze-Age wooden staircase lying deep in the mine. The staircase was used by the miners to transport goods in the mine.
Also in the region is the Anzenau Mill Museum, the first building in the town of Bad Goisern. Originally a farmhouse when it was built in the 14th century, a watermill was added to it to saw wood and make bread in the 18th century. Up until now, tasty bread is still being made and sold in the house. In 2005, the building was transformed into a museum to display the traditional lifestyle of the residents.
AUSEKļi MILL is a private open-air museum run by an enthusiastic local man, Mr. Martins Medins who is now a member of local council. He has turned his passion for culture and life into a practical idea in which demonstrations of traditional ways of living a country life and activities that engage people in fun atmosphere are helpful for raising people’s awareness of culture preservation. On our arrival, Mr. Martins Medins showed us all the equipment and objects from the olden days that he collected from all over the place and told the stories of those objects and the history of them.
The biggest open-air museum in Latvia, Ethnographic Open-air Museum serves various purposes for tourists and citizens in Riga. The way in which they manage this open-air museum is so unique that certain houses are open to traditional craftsmen for the purpose of demonstrating their skills and selling their work. The benefit of doing so is that craftsmen’s real time demonstration attracts people and on the other hand, people get to learn the traditional woodcrafts and the museum achieve the aim of, apart from preserving historical buildings, educating people and preserving the tradition of olden day. Dr. Mārtiņš KUPLAIS, a professional historian working in this museum, guided us around and told the stories of traditional Latvia life.
Being one of the UNESCO heritage sites, St Michael the Archangel Church in Dębno was a Gothic church built of larch wood in the 15th century. It’s still in use at present for the locals and tourists. On Sundays, the church is always packed with faithful disciples for the Sunday service and curious tourists waiting for going inside the church, opened only 10 minutes for tourists each weekend, to witness the well-preserved interior fittings and paintings. The maintenance is down to the priest who is not just the ‘tour guide’ of this historical church, but also works as a guardian of this small village and surrounding area.
Being one of the few living villages listed in UNESCO heritage, Vlkolínec was reluctant to turn itself into a proper museum. A group of volunteers found this remote mountainous village and were stunned by which they still remain the old way of living. As time goes by, however, people move out into the city gradually as there is not much to do in this remote area other than herding animals. Up until now, there are 55 houses standing in the village, but only 6 of them are inhabited by 19 people. Some of them are kept as it was and some are turned into cottages in display. People living there are actually feeling hassled most of the time with people walking around their houses. Occasionally some tourists would abruptly walk into people’s house without knowing they have intruded resident’s privacy. We were lucky that a half-drunken man invited us into his house and told us his stories and the history of this village with a big happy smile on his face.
Old Rauma is the largest Nordic wooden town with over 600 well-preserved wooden architectures from the 18th -19th century, and most of which are privately owned. It is valued for its vernacular architectural heritage, and these houses, workshops and shops are still in use today.
Back in the old days, almost every household had lace-makers making bobbin lace, a technique believed to have been brought by sailors in the 18th century. Although, lacemaking had once brought wealth into the city of Rauma, it is now a declined industry and a cultural heritage practiced and preserved by local people. When making bobbin lace, lace makers need a lace pillow with pin set and wind threads on wooden bobbins, to determine the lace pattern according to the placement of wooden bobbin and pin.
The City Renovation Center exhibits tools and materials used for constructing and preserving Rauma wooden houses, and photos documenting the preservation history of these traditional buildings, are valuable and worth visiting. The center is a place where people can acquire techniques, and obtain knowledge of conserving and renovating the traditional Finnish wooden architecture.
Located at Heddal in Notodden municipality, Norway, Heddal Stave Church (Norwegian: Heiterdals kircke) was constructed in the early 13th century. It is the largest among the 28 stave churches remained in Norway today. Stave church is a medieval wooden church of traditional Nordic style.
Heddal stave church is a timber-built church with three small turrets. The church contains numerous symbols of old Christian and heathen traditions. The holy cross on the turrets is the symbol of Christianity, whereas the dragon heads at the gable ends represent the old heathen motifs rooted in Celtic and Germanic sources.
Situated at the Northeastern side of Parc Naturel Régional de la Forêt d'Orient (Orient Forest Regional Natural Park), in Champagne-Ardenne, France, Ecomusée de la Forêt d’Orient (Ecomuseum in the Orient’s Forest) well preserves abundant traditional agricultural machinery from the 16th to 17th centuries.
The open-air museum is dedicated to the memory of agricultural life of the Champagne region in the old days. There are three sites of the museum: the Maison des Jours et des Champs (The “House of days and fields”) where there are several wooden houses exhibiting chisels, ploughs, old tractors, axes, and other farming machines and tools, Boutique du charron (The Cartwright’s Workshop) where the traditional wooden wheels and wheel-making machinery are displayed, and the museum park where visitors can see several wooden barns and feel not only the beauty of France farming village but the tranquility of the country life.
The Maison de l'Outil et de la Pensee Ouvriere (Tool and Trade Museum) is located in Troyes, in a Renaissance style mansion, called Hotel de Mauroy. In 1966, the city of Troyes acquired and entrusted this mansion to the Compagnons du Devoir du Tour de France, an association comprising craftsmen and artisans from the Middle Ages up to now. This association has carefully renovated the mansion and has turned it into a museum.
The museum has a rich collection of over 10,000 tools that were once used for cutting, crafting, and measuring wood by craftsmen, from the 17th to 18th century. Father Paul Feller, a Jesuit priest, is the person who first started to collect these tools since 1958. The museum also displays photos telling the history of logging, sewing, building log houses, making barrels, wheels, and more. Through these tool and photo exhibitions, the museum intends to provide knowledge and arouse the interest of apprentices, craftsmen, amateurs, and many others, about the history and the tradition of craftsmanship in the old days.
Laténium Museum is an archaeology museum located in Hauterive, suburb of Neuchâtel. Its name is a combination of “La Tène”, the name of archaeological site of the Celtic civilization back in the late Iron Age, and the word “museum.”
Inaugurated in 2001, the museum has rich archaeological collections of Celtic artifacts, and those from both older and more recent periods as well. Laténium Museum has a collection of 3000 objects, including a 20-meter long Roman wooden ship discovered in Bevaix.
Apart from indoor exhibition, there is another open-air area within the museum park. The dwellings of the lake villagers could be dated back to 1,000 BC, and the museum has reconstructed several architectures in order to demonstrate the history to the visitors.
Located in the north-east of Italy, Trento is the capital of the autonomous province Trentino. Back in the 16th century, it was the location of the Council of Trent, an Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church.
Stelvio National Park, near the historical city of Trento, with an area of 400,000 hectares, is the largest national park in Italy. Founded in 1935, the park is a reserve of several protected forests. A couple of traditional farm houses “maso” and log-cutting sawmills can be found in the realm of park. One of the mills has even been turned into a museum called Ruatti mill, which is open to the public for demonstrating the traditional way of utilizing water power for grinding the grains.
Cut through by the Carpathian Mountains in the middle, Romania has the mountainous terrain from the centre to the west. Because of the geographic barrier, the north-west of Romania has a peasant life in contrast to the tourist-oriented prosperity of the south-east Romania. Maramure?, a typical mountainous area situated at the north-west border amongst Romania, Hungary and Ukraine, due to its geographic location, has been handed between Hungary, Romania, Ukraine and CzechoSlovakia over last hundreds of years, and therefore the wooden buildings, interior and exterior decoration, and people’s life style related to wood are all affected by the past sovereign.
The ASTRA Museum of Folk and Civilization, one of the ASTRA National Museum Complex, is recognised as the largest permanent open air ethnographic exhibition in Europe. The chief director of National Museum Complex, Valeriu Ion Olaru, kindly showed us the distinctive wooden architecture within the open air museum and allowed us to go into buildings to explore its interesting stories and facts.
Apart from the museum, Mr. Olaru guided us into the largest restoration institute, situated next to the open-air museum, to show the scientific way of restoration and preservation of various types of material, including wood, metal, fabric, etc.
National Village Museum, located in the Herastrau Park, north of Bucharest, was created by Dimitrie Gusti, Victor Ion Popa, and Henri H. Stahl in 1936. From 33 units of authentic wooden constructions on the first phase of building up the Village Museum to the present 272 units, village museum has strived to preserve the traditional farms and houses from all over Romania.
The homesteads including living houses, barns and stables from different area of Romania that are all displayed in this museum represent the various lives across Romania, from farmer life, poor peasant life, rich peasant life to merchant life. Various houses in people’s daily life such as public houses (pubs), churches, mills and even playgrounds are in the range of wooden representation.
Malacca, located in the southern region of Malay Peninsula, is the third smallest state in Malaysia. The capital Malacca City is 148 kilometers southeast from Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. And the city has also been listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008.
Malacca has been colonized by the Europeans for more than 400 years. Portuguese was the first invader after Sultanate in 1511. Malacca then became a strategic base for expansion and also for spices trading. After Portuguese, there were also Dutch, British, and Japanese colonization. It was not until 1946 that the Malays toppled the regime and Malacca finally became part of Malayan Union, which later became Federation of Malaya and then eventually Malaysia.
Malacca is therefore deeply influenced by the history of foreign occupation, which can be found not only in material remains, but also in cultural tradition, such as food, dance, and festivals. The Stadthuys, Museums of History and Ethnography, has abundant records of the past stories, especially the sailing history, which includes models of ancient wooden boats and archives.
Penang, located on the northwest coast of Peninsula Malaysia by the Strait of Malacca, is the second smallest Malaysian state and the eighth most populous.
Penang is composed of two parts – Penang Island, where the governmentis, and Seberang Perai on the Malay Peninsula.
George Town is the busiest and largest city in Penang. The inner city of George Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and there are numerous century-old wooden houses standing by the street. Grand Chinese clan buildings and kongsi with magnificent structure and exquisite wooden carvings scatter in the city and tell of prosperity and the history of the immigrants.
Kuching is the most populous city of the East Malaysian state of Sarawak, which is located on the island of Borneo. The city covers an area of 1,863 square kilometers (719 sq mi) and has an estimated population of 1 million.
Sarawak has more than 40 sub-ethnic groups, including Iban, Chinese, Malay, Bidayuh, Melanau and Orang Ulu…etc. Since each group has their distinct language and culture, this multi-ethnic diversity has provided Kuching region a rich cultural and linguistic landscape.