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Museum in Stará Ľubovňa renovated rare attic beams

At the beginning of September, the Ľubovnianske múzeum / Ľubovňa Museum finished the project of renovating 44 attic beams.

At the beginning of September, the Ľubovnianske múzeum / Ľubovňa Museum finished the project of renovating 44 attic beams.

“This is a load-bearing, square, middle attic beam of the whole house,” head of the museum Dalibor Mikulík told the SITA newswire. “The centre of this beam was decorated by carpenters with inscriptions and carvings in which elements of old ornament were preserved – like symbols of crosses, solar motifs, rosettes, dating, or the name of the founder,” he added. The decoration of beams, inscriptions, sun symbols and Christian symbols, made by notch-carving, as well as connected rituals and sayings are, according to Mikulík, an important cultural demonstration of the history of this multi-cultural region.

Expert work on the beams was carried out by conservators from Oblas, the conserving studio in Levoča. It cost the Ľubovňa Museum €8,900; part of the resources came from a Culture Ministry grant, part from the museum’s own resources. Due to the sensitivity of the wooden material towards climatic conditions and ligniperdous (wood-rotting) insects, conservators had to petrify and conserve the wooden beams, which came from the vicinity of Stará Ľubovňa throughout the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Mikulík said that the museum has one of biggest collections of the above-mentioned items in Slovakia: some of them can be found directly in individual buildings of the open-air museum under the Ľubovňa Castle, others are exhibited separately in the open-air museum.

Several of the preserved attic beams come from already demolished buildings in neighbouring municipalities. Inscriptions on beams used to be in local dialects. In the Spiš region, these beams were also called tragár (German tragen – to bear), meštegren or sosromb. As the attic beam used to be the load-bearing one which held up the whole ceiling, it symbolised strength, and this is why it was said to have magical power and functions in folklore. Under this beam, young couples were blessed before the wedding, with young brides stripped of their bridal wreath and given a bonnet. Sometimes, a woman having a difficult delivery was brought under this beam, or a person having a heavy, complicated death.

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