In what way are folk songs different from other songs, and folk art different from the fine or applied arts? The answer is quite simple: both reflect a traditional folk way of thinking and imagery. The culture of Hungarian people developed during many centuries of peasant farming and husbandry. Objects decorated with folk symbols with artistic skillfulness, which are today considered interesting rarities, were once the necessities of everyday life, and their ornaments were in perfect harmony with their forms and materials.
Usually they talk about Hungarian folk art as if it were a unified whole, but the ornaments carry many different motifs and meanings depending on the region they originate from. The Palóc people in north-eastern Hungary prepared simple hand-woven fabrics, while the women of Sárköz were famous for their refined weaving techniques. It is easy to distinguish between the colorful embroideries made in Kalocsa and the Matyó motifs made in the area around Mezökövesd, where mainly blue and red threads were used in designs made before the middle of the 19th century. Objects decorated with geometric shapes make one wonder about the past, and the relief carvings of celebratory scenes is typical of the art of carvers from Transdanubia.
A combination of dark blue and white was very important in the folk ornaments of the Germans living in Hungary, because it was associated with calmness and usefulness. Medium green was a sign of spring, hopefulness and renewal in folk art: a meaning of improved fertility was attributed to leafy branches.
They often used green for ceramics and furniture, and it was the symbol of shepherds living outdoors. Yellow was the color of the burning sun, which brings fading and transience, which is why it was not popular in folk ornaments.
Black was usually the symbol of mourning, but the Palóc people in Hollókö used black bed linen on festive occasions. Before the First World War, the wedding dress was black in most areas of Hungary.
Decorative folk art only started to become multi-colored in the middle of the 19th century. Embroidery made in Kalocsa, which once only used white, black red and blue cotton yarns in the old days, has as many as twenty-two shades of color today. Folk art again flourishes, and we may come across its objects almost everywhere we go. The Craft Fair in the Buda Castle is held on August 16-20 each year, and it provides a most imposing overview of folk art. All objects presented here need to be approved by a selection jury and almost every craft is represented. In addition to buying the objects, visitors can also try their hands at making them. They get a chance to try weaving, pottery, egg-painting, and even horseshoe-making, or basketwork.