The Upper Tisza Region

People still divide the Upper-Tisza region into smaller areas. The part of the Bereg along the River Tisza is called the Bereg-Tiszahát region, and the Nyírség region, covered with wind-blown sand begins on the western side of the river. In Szatmár the gentle slopes of the River Szamos form the Szamoshát region, while the area along the River Tisza is referred to as the Szatmár-Tiszahát region. The Erdohát region covered with extensive forests is situated between them. A tiny part of this region is the so-called Palágyság area which is famous for its ethnographic heritage. The Szamoshát region is bordered by the former Ecsed-moor (also called the Rétoldal) in the southwest, and beyond it the Nyírség region is situated (which is visited sometimes during this tour). These geographical areas cannot be strictly separated from each other, as they merge into each other almost invisibly.

HUN : http://www.sznm.hu/felsot.html

The regional unit conjures up the traditional peasant way of life in Erdőohát (Szatmár County). The subregion of characteristic culture lies in Szamosköz, north-eastern Hungary, between the rivers Tisza and Szamos. Erdőohát borders on Tiszahát in the north and on Szamoshát on the south-west. Its eastern parts are referred to by its inhabitants as Túrhát and Palágyság. The elevations (hátak) of the land, slashed by streams and brooks, were covered with woods, rich in fruit-trees, and with dense oak-forests, even in the early 19th century. Most villages of the population settled here in the age of the Arpads (897-1301) were built on clearings in the 11th-14th centuries. In keeping with ecological conditions people mainly engaged in animal husbandry, silviculture, fishing and gathering. Tilling and grain production only became significant after the regulation of rivers and draining of marshes in the last third of the 19th century.
The people of Erdőohát was saved by its geographical situation, first of all by the impenetrable Ecsed swamp on the south-east, during the Turkish occupation of Hungary (1526-1686), but they suffered enough from recurring raids by the Tartars until 1717. In the Kuruts times (insurrections against the Habsburg rulers of Hungary), late in the 17th century and during the war of independence led by Prince Rákóczi (1703-11) the area was a theatre of war. Old people in Erdőohát still like to relate how Ferenc Rákóczi II crossed the Tisza and had his first victorious battle at Tiszabecs on 14 July 1703. Tamás Esze, born in neighbouring Tarpa, was instrumental in recruiting for the Kuruts army and starting the war of independence itself. Prince Rákóczi rewarded the people of Tarpa for its support with Haiduk privileges.
The fate and culture of Erdőohát people were determined by their feudal ties which, through their landlords, the Báthoris, Bethlens and Rákóczis, connected them to the Partium and Transylvania. For a long time they also belonged to the former administratively as well as economically. As no way led through the swamps to the Great Hungarian Plain, they went to the markets and fairs of the Partium, especially to Szatmárnémeti. The new border imposed on Hungary with the Treaty of Trianon in 192O closed their world on the east, too. As a result Erdőohát became one of the most traditionalist regions of the country.

The Protestant faith, gaining ground from the 16th century, and the peculiar social composition of the population had important roles in shaping the culture of Erdőohát. According to late 18th century records 29% of the village families in Szatmár County had noble status. Corresponding early 19th century Erdőohát data are even higher. In Botpalád e.g. 68% and in Uszka 76% of the homes were occupied by petty nobles. Farming their holdings of 1 to 100 holds (1 hold = 0.57 ha.) most of them were no more than squireens. Although in way of life they scarcely differed from the peasants, they were influential. By looking for guidance at the landowners to whom they were also related the minor gentry was a kind of transmitter of culture between lords and serfs. After the liberation of serfs and the abolition of nobiliary privileges in 1849 their influence ceased to be beneficial. Their clinging to past glory led to the fossilisation of traditions.

In the late 1960s, during research for the Museum, we found so many relics and memories preserved in the Erdőohát that we could almost completely reconstruct the 19th century way of life based on medieval traditions.
The pattern of settlement, established by the 14th century, can also be studied today. The villages of medieval origin, populated by 200-500 souls, comprise one or two streets. The two rows of houses, each on a narrow plot, widen out to form a square around the church. In the farmyards several buildings stand to serve different purposes. The most important building material was oak. Up to the 1850s-1880s houses were erected on oaken groundsills. The timber frame of the walls was mortised into this sill then filled out with vertically twined wattle and daubed thick. A few older houses of cross-headed log walls have also survived into the 20th century.
The majority of small dwelling houses comprised a room, a passage-cum-kitchen and a pantry. The passage (pitvar), through which the house could be entered, was often separated from the kitchen with a wall and the room and pantry also opened from here. From the middle of the 19th century wooden porches came slowly into fashion and the number of chimneys began to grow. At the beginning of the 19th century most houses were erected without a chimney. Rooms, like in Transylvania, were heated with a hearth whose smoke was led to the kitchen, or through the kitchen up to the loft. The Erdőohát house represents a transition between the ones characteristic of the Great Hungarian Plain and those of Transylvania.

The interior was simple with low, hewn furniture and a large number of home-made objects. The "clean room" serving prestige purposes and for receiving guests, was not yet universal in the peasant houses of Erdőohát during the 19th century. The furniture in the dwelling room is of parallel arrangement with a bed rimming both sidewalls up to the front wall. Characteristic pieces are the almost 2 m long chest under the window and in many places also a cupboard. When furnishing a house in the museum we also relied on the history of its inhabitants. The result is the home of a given family of known members in a definite point of time.

In the regional unit opened in 1974 a village square and one side of the street leading to it is shown. We chose buildings and furnishings with the aim of giving a picture, as full as possible, of the architectural traditions of Erdőohát and the life of its inhabitants of various economic situations and social positions in the 19th and early 20th centuries. While in the Museum units, covering large regions, the culture of a sub-region is represented by one croft, in the case of Erdőohát we had the opportunity to show hues and details. Everything looks almost as seen by Ferenc Kölcsey, author of the Hungarian national anthem, who lived in Szatmárcseke from 1815 to his death in 1838, and Zsigmond Móricz, the great novelist of peasantry, who was born in 1879 in Tiszacsécse in a house almost identical with those on show.

Some more pages :
http://www.sznm.hu/engn/lhazbp.htm : Dwelling house, Botpalád
http://www.sznm.hu/engn/lhazkisp.htm : Dwelling house, Kispalád
http://www.stg.co.hu/tiszahat/hungary/kispalad.htm : Kispalád (hist.)
http://szatmar.hu/foldrajz.html ( Palágyság , Paládi-víz )
http://szatmar.hu/neprajz.html ( Palágyság )

Palád stream

Kispalád: The village is surrounded by the little Palád stream to the north, and by the mysterious, romantic Old Túr to the south. To the southwest are the Palád and Klastrom forests. The Palád forest - an oak forest scattered with acacia, ash, and elm trees - is part of the Szatmár-Bereg Nature Reservation District.

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