The Budnar Homestead

A Living Museum  

Tu pride flash
A few kilometres east from Kamnik and about 300 metres higher is located the settlement Zgornje Palovče (Upper P.). A good kilometre further on towards east, they continue into Spodnje Palovče (Lower P.) and these into Vranjo Peč with the parish church of St. Urh. The three villages or rather homesteads have adjusted to the hilly terrain where they are located. They are linked among themselves and with the wider world through an asphalt , which makes possible to the empoyed a daily drive into the valley. In each of the three villages there are several old, abandoned and deteriorating buildings, witness of the the inhabitants who have left and moved on. There are also some new buildings, and several restored residential and farm buildings.

One of the oldest homesteads in Zgornje Pavlovče je Budnar house, the house is known under the name pr'Matjaž, according to Slovenian tradition. It has been turned into a museum house in recent years due to the efforts of the tireless Iva Šubelj Kramar , who made certain that its exterior and interior appearance was left unchanged. The building is about 350 years old, the foundations on which the present building stands, older than 500 years. On the old main supporting beam of the house the inscription 1801 was revealed.

Since this is a very old building. It is understandable, that on the outside the house in appearance does not look anything special. Covered with skodle traditional wooden slats, the relatively narrow and elongated building, iz one-storeyed at the upper end, and two-storeyed at the opposite lower end. In the stone-built ground floor there was stable for the farm animals and cellar for farm produce. On stone foundations is built a two-room wooden house – the stable residence. One part of the house is the living room with the bread oven, bohkov kot (little god's corner ), špampet (bed) and zibelka (cradle), metrga (bread-making wooden trough), and at least one wardrobe. It is interesting that around the table under the bohkov kot, there were no chairs, always wooden benches.

The central and no less important part of the house is črna kuhinja (black kitchen) with ognjišče (open fireplace), the third or last was the shramba (pantry). In the black kitchen they still prepare a variety of traditional country food, bake bread, under the ceiling they hang to dry sausages, salami and meat. This is the room where gospa Iva (Mrs. Iva) like to teach and demonstrate, most often to young people, how to knead and bake bread. Every participant at the end can take his or her product home.

The house lives with the village

When my wife and I came to the house on Sunday morning, thick smoke was rolling through the front door. We were certain that there was somebody in the house, but we were mistaken. The manager of Bodnar House later explained that since it was winter, she had started the fire on Saturday, for the house to warm up sufficiently by Sunday. In the Bodnar house, as in a museum, nobody lives permanently. The house is only open on every Sunday afternoon, at other times, according to prior arrangement with gospa Iva. After the arrival of the manager, who lives in Kamnik, it was necessary first to air the black kitchen, so that we could at least see each other. This did not take more than 5 minutes, which were not necessary to conclude that the house is in good hands.

The local inhabitants had been reserved and mistrustful initially , but in seven years she has suceeded in establishing active participation. She is persuaded that without community involvement all this would not make any sense. Today she is reassured that the village lives with the house, and the house with the village. A building engineer by profession, gospa Iva was never satisfied with the project as such. She wanted more – a house where life would take place, above all life as lived by our forebears. So it is not surprising that in the house old traditions are kept alive; production of butarice (Easter sheaves), Ljubljana butarice and others, colouring of pirhi (Easter eggs), baking of pletenice (pleated loaf), cooking of old and almost forgotten dishes, ličkanje koruze (corn-husking), preparation of koline (pork meat and sausages), preparation of advent wreaths and jaslice (Christmas mangers)...In the house take place lectures on old customs and traditions, on old architecture, on ecological agriculture, on prunning fruit trees, on gathering and preparation of herbs, etc.

Where the stable and cellar had been once, now exhibitions of all kinds take place, with the aim that the old skills and knowledge is not lost. We just managed to catch the last day of the jaslice exhibition, based on the contributions by the local people rom near and far.

About the house and activitiers taking place in it, there have been till now 23 seminar papers and 8 degree papers based on study areas ranging from ethnology to architecture. We left the Bodnar House reluctantly, particularly since there were a number of eartheware pots with different kinds of kaša (porridge), cooking on the open fire-place, later eaten by young girls with wooden spoons.

Budnar museum house is a protected monument, the property of the Kamnik Municipality. Apart from that it is also under the watchful care of the Institute for Protection of Monuments, Kranj.

Translated by Aleksandra Ceferin