Camera di Commercio, Industria e Artigianato
(Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Handicrafts)
Corso 18 Agosto, 34 - 85100 - Tel. 0971/412111
Via Lucana, 82 - 75100 - Tel. 0835/2471 - Fax 330614
In Basilicata handicraft is rooted in the pastoral, peasant culture and retains its fundamental characteristics, even in its more modern expression. Objects made according to Lucanian artisan tradition are created to satisfy the needs of daily life, as well as for their innate artistic beauty. Except for metals, the materials normally used to create the forms and objects remain those which the surrounding nature provides: wood, clay, tuff, papier-mâché, textile fibres, straw and wicker. Wood, used throughout the region, comes primarily from chestnut, oak, beech, fir, cherry and pear trees. The articles are created thanks to patient hand-carving and typically depict subjects representing pastoral life and historical traditions. The handles of wooden ladles, forks, walking canes, etc. have as decoration some characters in traditional costumes, female figures, bearded brigands, 19th century carbineers and animals. Wood is also used for pasta and bread-making utensils, wine and water kegs, cutting boards, jars, plates, etc. In Matera, in particular, the art of cabinet-making, with the manufacture or restoration of inlaid furniture, is on the rise. Woodcarving is done above all in Avigliano, Pietrapertosa, S. Giorgio Lucano, Stigliano, Francavilla in Sinni, Terranova di Pollino and Viggianello. Of particular interest is Forenza, where talented artisans produce rustic furniture which is characterized by the use of hinges and joints. Clay, which abounds in the region, is used for the manufacture of majolica, porcelain and ceramics of excellent quality. Dishes, glasses, 'cucumi', amphorae, jugs and pitchers are among the most common items, but you will also find oil lamps and spice containers. The most important areas of production are: Grottole, Policoro, Melfi, Venosa, Rionero in Vulture and Matera. It is, in fact, in Matera where well crafted decorated dishes, hand-painted terracotta whistles (known locally as 'cucu') and Nativity cribs can be found. In Matera papier-mâché and tuff enrich the panorama of handicrafts, too. True works of art, the papier-mâché Nativity scenes represent the event as set in the historic 'Sassi' district. Maintaining the religious theme, there is also the triumphal Chariot of Bruna used for the 2 July festival and made entirely of papier-mâché constructed on a wooden frame. Tuff is used for the manufacture of small tables, chimney pots, lamps and sculptures inspired by traditional, cultural-historical motifs. Most of these complement interior furnishings or are used for architectural finish. Straw and wicker are most widely crafted in Maratea, where they are used for the production of covered chests, bread baskets, 'spase' for drying homemade pasta, bulrush twigs for ricotta and other cheeses, small baskets, bags and other objects. The same materials are crafted in Francavilla in Sinni, Accettura, Ruoti, Avigliano and Venosa. Straw bottomed chairs are masterfully crafted in Spinoso, Abriola and Francavilla in Sinni. The great availability of sheep's wool has favoured the development of weaving carpets. Two production techniques are used: the 'knotted carpet' found in Avigliano and the 'Kilim carpet' in Savoia di Lucania. In Avigliano, the famous traditional costumes are still hand-woven, as are those in the Albanian communities of Pollino, S. Paolo Albanese, S. Costantino Albanese and Cersosimo. Antique instruments such as spools, bobbins, spinning wheels and hand looms are still being used. As for the costumes of Avigliano, it should be noted that one of them was created expressly for the Queen of England. The art of embroidery and lace-making are still practiced throughout the region. Metal forging is also very widespread. Iron-working is common in Corleto Perticara, Rapone, Rivello, Avigliano, Sasso di Castalda, Potenza and Matera and is above all used for the production of fireplace tools and railings and gates. Enamelled, varnished brass cowbells can be found in Stigliano. Tinsmiths produce cooking utensils in Trecchina and Cancellara. Copper is wrought in Rivello, Potenza, Tricarico and S. Angelo Le Fratte. A skilled goldsmith, in Matera, creates custom-deigned jewellery, using a combination of antique and modern techniques. Lovers of musical instruments should visit Viggiano to awaken the secrets of the ancient, diatonic harp known as the 'viggianese harp'. Zampogna bagpipes are made in S. Paolo Albanese.