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The Ten Commandments of the Fujara

FUJARAS of all possible shapes and sizes, along with bells, bagpipes, trumpets, wooden ratchets, violins, pipes, a dulcimer and many other folk instruments are being put on display at Bratislava Castle by the Music Museum of the Slovak National Museum (SNM). The aim of the exhibition, The Ten Commandments of the Fujara, is to present and tell the story of this huge and unique shepherd's whistle flute.


FUJARAS of all possible shapes and sizes, along with bells, bagpipes, trumpets, wooden ratchets, violins, pipes, a dulcimer and many other folk instruments are being put on display at Bratislava Castle by the Music Museum of the Slovak National Museum (SNM). The aim of the exhibition, The Ten Commandments of the Fujara, is to present and tell the story of this huge and unique shepherd's whistle flute.

The main incentive behind organizing the exhibition was the inclusion of the fujara, known for its distinctive deep and meditative timbre, in the UNESCO list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on November 25, 2005.

"Originally we wanted to set up only one showcase of fujaras, but then we found that we had two, and finally we ended up with a full exhibition," said curator Peter Jantoščiak of the exhibition's development.

Yet the birth of the exhibition was not an easy one. The SNM and the Centre of Folk Art Production (ÚĽUV), an organization that has preserved the heritage of artistic folk crafts in Slovakia since 1945, fought over who would be the most appropriate to take charge of its preparation, writes the daily Pravda. In the end, the museum did not refuse to cooperate with its rival. Thanks to this, the exhibition of 178 musical instruments is much enriched by a collection of shepherd's axes, knives, furcoats and whips.

The exhibition educates visitors with the "Ten Commandments", a list of the 10 most essential and interesting facts about the fujara, along with details of its history and development covering almost 30 panels.

The first references to the fujara date back to 1619, initially as a musical instrument in the hands of shepherds in the Zvolen region, and then again 100 years later as being played by yeomen from Podpoľanie. This three-holed pipe with a smaller parallel pipe, called the vzduchovod, is a local invention. "It is impossible to find fujaras of this type anywhere else. Poles and Romanians make similar instruments, but these are only distant relatives," said Jantoščiak.

Folk musicians played fujaras at the vernisage.
photo: Music Museum

Lucia Fojtíková of the Music Museum pointed out an exhibited fujara from the second half of the 19th century and also a recently uncovered zither, which could date back to 1412. A small bone pipe from the 14th century is the exhibition's oldest musical instrument.

The exhibition will travel to UNESCO's Paris headquarters in October after it closes in Bratislava.


What: The Ten Commandments of the Fujara
When:Mon-Sun 9:00-18:00 until September 18
Where:The Music Museum, Luginsland Bastion of the Bratislava Castle


By Jana Liptáková

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