We’ve had thousands of tourists, and most of them bought souvenirs. Some of them were just simple fridge magnets or Dracula mugs, i.e., small and cheap objects to remind them of their trip to Romania. Others don’t bother with these kinds of things; they want something more – hand-made and traditional art pieces.
At first glimpse, the big bazaar of Bran is not the place for something like this unless you want to buy a China-made sword or a rubber Dracula mask. But there is hope. In Sighişoara, allegedly the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, there is a souvenir store. In fact, it is more than that: it’s a surreal realm where a great artist carves his spoons and wraps them not in paper but magic stories.
Sighişoara is probably the best-preserved medieval citadel of Europe. Tall stone walls, slender towers, and massive bastions surround the old town built on a hilltop. Inside, houses after houses are gathered around the Citadel Square. It is here where you can find The House on the Rock. Down in its cellars, you can find Mark Tudose, a Romanian carver known as Spoonman. What strikes you from the beginning is his kindness and warmth. He’s glad to talk with his customers while carves a spoon. He’s never pushy and never sad if you don’t buy anything. He enjoys his life.
Besides his character, Mark owns a great art store, with all exhibits being hand-made by several artists around Romania. You can’t help but notice the amazing wooden crosses on which a fine layer of polished cement is laid down. On top of the layer, the artists added beautiful paintings of blue, yellow, and red flowers. Cucuteni ceramic, an ancient Dacian craft, is also very well represented. Mark will be happy to explain the meaning of the drawings represented on these ceramic plates and mugs.
Besides many other items, such as the amazing clay figurines representing local farmers, icons on glass, and several pictures, Mark sells his own carved spoons. If every item has a story, then the ones regarding his spoons are our favorite. It is now when you can get the meanings of the storks, owls, or wolves carved so nicely on these spoons. Many customers are impressed by the stork-spoons. Mark says the stork is a symbol of luck. In Romanian folk tradition, they used to say that when a stork makes her nest on a house, she protects it from fire, floods, and thieves. Definitely, the story will make you buy at least a small work of art in the end.
Now, whether you are a local or a foreigner touring the country, you’ll have a real souvenir from Romania wrapped in a story. And it is easy to remember the stories since Mark has them on his web page. In addition, you can find them at The Spoonman.
* Covinnus Travel takes no commissions from any vendors and protects the interests of its clients all the time. We try to promote authentic traditional art and real, local artists.