Popular literature. In relation to the holidays there are the colinde, very common, especially in the countryside, from Christmas Eve until the New Year. Groups of boys and young men go from house to house to sing the colinda, which, in addition to the usual wishes, includes epic parts, sometimes borrowed from apocryphal popular literature. The colinde are also accompanied by modest dramatic elements: a large bright paper star, symbol of the star of the Magi; a small plow (plugu ş or), decorated and carried by oxen led by young people. On New Year’s Eve they recite to the landlords, farmers, the story of the rich vintage of the legendary “bădica Troian”. Dramatic literature is represented by the Vicleim, a kind of mystery of the Nativity contaminated with the popular Turkish farce of Qaragöz (v.).
In the popular epic the fables (basme) are distinguished by the richness and humor of the initial and final forms, as well as by their style full of suggestive images. The ballads, which have a special relationship with the southern Danube region, are in decline. In return, the lyric is very rich, full of grace and takes on a specific form, the doina.
Also noteworthy are the strig ă turi or chiuituri, small poetic passages, full of humor or biting, epigrammatic allusions, which young men and women exchange with each other, to make the dance in the hora more lively (dance in tondo). The popular coat of arms (see coat of arms: Popular coat of arms) – aimed above all against gypsies and Jews – is very rich. The proverbs, the riddles, are also well represented.
In popular written literature, a number of apocryphal texts still enjoy considerable prestige among the mass of the people: The Journey of the Madonna to Hell, The Dream of the Madonna, The Epistle of Jesus Christ The 24 Frontiers of Heaven, as well as certain novels of the Middle Ages, such as Alexandria, Genoveffa of Brabant, Aesop, even a novel of oriental origin: Archirie and Anadam (Aḥīqār; v.).
Folk art. – Although the material we have today is not too ancient, from the collected specimens we recognize an ancient folk art developed harmoniously in all senses, which suggests a long period of preparation and development. The tendency to embellish useful objects can already be seen in clothes: shirts, embroidered rustic blouses, skirts, veils embroidered with wool and thread in the liveliest colors (red, yellow, orange, green, black, blue), harmoniously combined, according to models very ancient, with geometric and floral motifs. The human figure is rarely present in it, and even the beasts appear only in individual cases, almost always plants are depicted, but not as a concrete representation of nature, but in a progressive geometric stylization. In the’ home furnishings a special place is occupied by carpets, not knotted but rather woven or woven according to the oriental technique, which arrived in Romania through the southern Danube and in which motifs similar to Coptic ones, or to those of Russia, of the Sweden and Norway, but which nevertheless stand out for their specific nature; they are of a rare richness of colors (predominantly red) and of an infinite variety of ornaments (leaves, flowers, birds, geometric figures, commonly rhombuses, etc.). The darker colored Bessarabian carpets are rich and varied in the representation of stylized birds and flowers. In the Oltenia rugs, decorative motifs do not predominate, but instead nature (plants and flowers) is taken as a model, often retaining the most delicate colors.
Ceramics also had a very significant development. In the ancient kingdom of Romania it has immemorial relations with the Mediterranean tradition, as can be seen from the enormous vases of the amphora type, used to store vinegar and pickled legumes. The Romanian ritorio ornamental motifs.
In northern and western Transylvania, as well as in the regions surrounding the Saxon centers, the influence of German pottery is observed: foreign masters also gave the terracotta objects made for Romanians the imprint of their own taste.
A conspicuous part in Romanian folk art belongs to the wood carvings, often in color, made on the troi ţ e (crosses-tabernacles), along the streets and which evoke the “calvarî” of Brittany; on small crosses, on thrones and chests; on conch, even on spoons, salt shakers, whistles, sticks, doors, etc. M. Haberlandt (Österreichische Volkskunst, Vienna 1911) found that the art of wood carving in the Romanian Bucovina surpasses, in age and ornamental variety, the Ruthenian one, and acknowledges that: “in any case, we are here to deal with creations which must be placed among the most interesting and oldest manifestations of European popular art “.