Institutul de Sociologie, Academia Română; Institute of Sociology, Romanian Academy
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Antropologie și etnologie
The order of places within the church: The family strana
Unpublished field-notes from Henri H. Stahl’s private archive
This article investigates field notes written during the monographic campaigns of 1929 and 1932, undertaken by the Sociological School of Bucharest led by Dimitrie Gusti in Drăguș village (Făgăraș region, central Romania). These previously unpublished notes are preserved in the private Stahl Family Archive and refer to the order of places occupied by peasants within the church.
As in many Orthodox churches from Transylvania, in the Drăguș church women and men were separated. The nave, which is closer to the altar, was occupied by men, and the narthex was occupied by women. Unmarried women and men stayed together in the back; children were upstairs in the choir; while gipsies stood next to the door. Despite recommendations of the Church’s representatives, that old people should stay in the front, out of respect, the complex social structure of the village imposed a different rule. All members of the same lineage were aligned in a chain formation inside the church (called the stacidia, in rom. strana,). In it, each member had a specific place. The front position was occupied by the head of the parental household (the father, and after his death by the son, usually the youngest, or the son-in-law, in the case of a matrilocal marriage), succeeded by the other male family members. Women followed the same rule in the narthex, where the chains continued. The distinction between two social categories: the descendants of former imperial border guards (who received privileges) and the descendants of the serfs was less obvious, but still noticeable, as in the past. The same alignment was followed in the cemetery, where each member of the community was buried in its family strana.
Two of the field notes were made by Octavian Mureșanu who only took part in the 1929 campaign. An additional eleven notes were written in 1932, when the monographic teams returned to Drăguș. These field notes were made by the famous Romanian sociologist Henri H. Stahl, who continued the investigation conducting a series of interviews, assisted by his co-worker Xenia Costa-Foru. Contrary to Muresanu’s notes, Stahl’s interviews were transcribed in such manner as to preserve the peasants’ idiomatic speech and expressions. After writing down the informants’ oral testimonies, Stahl verified the information given to him. He tried in vain to find the ”written rule from the ancestors”, however he was able to consult the assessment record of the Church council meetings and transcribed three of them, dated 1902 and 1906.
This article traces the history of the field-notes (interviews and documents), comments on the information they provide, and finally transcribes them, in order to make them available to the scientific community.
Keywords: order of places in the church, wooden church, social hierarchy, monographic campaigns, Drăguș village, the Sociological School of Bucharest, Henri H. Stahl, Dimitrie Gusti.
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