Krizba (Crizbav)

Krizba, Villa Cancri, Krebsbach, Crizbav. It is a village located at 25 km north-west of Brașov. In 2002, out of 1407 inhabitants, 938 were Romanian, 405 Hungarian, 5 German and 59 Rroma. In 1900 it was inhabited by 1780 persons, out of whom 1208 Hungarian, 560 Romanian and 12 German. The watchtower of the fortress talks about the glorious past, protects the present and guides to future.


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The preparation was in full swing. In both places. The two houses murmured, formicated, the place was full of relatives. Enough for ten villages. Enough for ten Hungarian Csango villages…First thing in the morning, relatives came continuously and because the event was very important, they all dressed in traditional clothes. The people admired the abundance of colors but also the fact that –not taking into account the details – the general picture of the clothes was unitary. The group started from the groom’s house, who according to tradition, received then his ivándiék (gift)[1]: a green-painted carriage, with the length of 3 m. The wedding guests were marching shouting loudly and from time to time they were throwing money in the buckets filled with water, decorated with flowers by children. Arriving at the bride’s door, they said: We are the bargaining people, we heard that you have here a young woman, if we make terms, we buy her –however they were only given a dressed broomstick. This is not the real one! Then, an old woman came out of the house: she was already. Meanwhile, the bride and bridesmaids were covered in such a way so that only their hands were seen and the groom had to recognize the bride by only seeing her hand.

This is the real one! How much do you ask for her? It is too much, I don’t have money for this … But is she really healthy? We see her at the outside but does the interior correspond? She seems envious! Finally, they made terms with each other and thanked the parents for raising her and the group of wedding guests set out to the church in a long row, thus being also able to admire the special costumes.

The national costume of women from Crizbav is very beautiful. Women and girls especially decorate their head and the hair, usually tied in a kuóda (queue), is wrapped on the upper part of the head. According to the old Hungarian tradition, a little wreath full with strings of beads is placed on it. During walking, the clinking beads rattle and make noise. Colored bows are sewn on the little wreath, hanging up to the ankle. Young women wear csepesz (bonnet) which – instead of the white veil worn in the working days of the week – is tied to a colored kerchief. Women also wear embroidered bonnet with a specific form. They braid a bun made of hemp as a semi-circle or horseshoe covered with a white fabric, fixed on the back of the bonnet. The white veil made of a soft fabric is placed on it, pressed by a red bow tied at the back, above the forehead. In general, this is attached to the bun with six very nice golden decorated pins, very nicely so that two are found above the bun and in twos laterally. In the summer, girls and young women do not wear a costume over the shirt. The girls’ shirts are decorated by sewing with purple red thread, antique arabesques and other plant motifs at the neck, cuffs and along the length of the arm. The skirt is made of blue fabric. A white apron is worn over it, which is decorated in the middle with grooves and lace on the edges. A belt with metal and semi-precious stone ornaments is placed over the linen dress. In the winter, women and girls wear a white leather sheepskin coat over the shirt. It is specific to the place that when women from Crizbav go to church to wear at the neck a purple scarf. The edge and the two ends of the white scarf sewn as a towel are artistically embroidered with colored threads. The men’ costume consists in the black hat with wide brim, sheepskin coat over the shirt fastened with the belt. On holidays they wear a black shirt front and white tight stockings. The priest Sexty Kálmán, who came from Hungary and served between1904-1941 at Crizbav, insisted to introduce the Hungarian costume in the difficult political times.

The inhabitants from Satu Nou kept the old Hungarian costume used by the Transylvanian Saxons. Men wear blue long cloak, Hungarian pants made of dark cloth of the Transylvanian Saxons not only during the week but also on Sundays. Their festive costume for church includes magyarka (long dolman with belt buckle) for men, the cloak for women and the velvet shako for girls. Those from Satu Nou happily wear both the festive Hungarian costume and the Hungarian clothing.

The men’ clothing from Apața is similar to those from Crizbav. Women’ clothing is also very similar, the bun, on which the bonnet is placed, is round and the veil on it is thicker. The girls from Apața place on their heads the specific garland, decorated with beads. In the case of holidays, they do not wear the purple scarf but place a white bed sheet on their back as a cloak. Pleated shirts are worn in La Apața, to which the neck part and cuff is pleated in different models.

The men from Seven Villages embërek (people) wear in the summer loose shirts made of hemp, gagya (undershorts) or white cloth stockings. The collar is rigid, closing in front with a ribbon with pompon. The shirt is long, worn outside, the lower part almost reaches the knees. The shirt is tied with a wide belt, with diészü (girdle). Money and documents were kept in it and the knife holder, namely the bag for the fire-making instrument, were attached to it. During cold weather, they wore cloth cloak, firiskuó made of linen, but they also knew the short and long kozsokul (sheepskin coat), embroidered with silk, the boys were wearing a (lombos guba) woolen cloak, worn they were wooing the girls and taking care of animals. They were wearing a black hat with wide brim and when it was cold, they were wearing a black or white fur hat. In the case of holidays, the clothing made of hemp was changed with that of linen in, which had a softer fabric. As a coat, white zekie (shirt front) was worn in Săcele and a black one in Three Villages. The footwear was egiéjszlábucsimma (long boot). During the winter, when going to the forest, long gyiébá was worn, sárigcérnás ing (shirt with yellow thread) at weddings and mejjes (shirt front), embroidered with red and green tulipánt (tulips) and decorated with buttons on the sides. The famous carriers from Seven Villages wore the leather cloak and szárika (woolen cloak).

The national costume of the Csango at the women from Seven Villages has two known options. The oldest is the costume with hámosrokoja (long skirt with harness) and the new one is the Transylvanian Saxon costume. In the special life occasions, the white color was dominant for clothing. The Csango woman from Seven Villages confirmed in white, got married in white and was buried in white. The girls had the hair braided in two, the women wore it in a bun, placing the bonnet over it. Girls were fixing their hair with a deep red or purple ribbon, young women tied their hair with a gold-embroidered bow, which was worn for two years, then changed with the deep red bow. For special occasions and on Sundays, women wore csepesz (bonnet) on their head, covered with a veil scarf. The chest was decorated with kösöntyű (women ornaments), jewels, they were wearing a belt with metal ornaments, from which they hanged bugyelláris (embroidered bags) or erszény (wallets). Rokoja (long skirt) of the girls and bride was white, black for the women in holidays, dark blue in the other days. The apron called katrinca (peasant woman’s skirt) was worn over the skirt. In the past, women wore ancient Greek sandals in their feet, then they used tanned sheep or goat skin boots. At confirmation, they wore the white shirt, long linen skirt, masining, firiskuó made of linen, linen long skirt and csipkesurc (lace apron) and velvet little wreath with red bows on their head. In the case of marriages, the special ornament for brides was black velvet shako and black cloak. On women’ shirts, the embroidery of pleated part verzselés[2] referred to the woman’s age: the girls’ shirts were embroidered with red, sewn together with red, the women’ shirts were embroidered with yellow, the edge seam was red and the old women’ shirts were embroidered with butter-like thread and decorated with white flounces.

The group of guests dressed in the decorated clothing filled in the spacious church from Crizbav and the holiday service began according to the evangelical ritual.


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Crizbav was mentioned for the first time in 1235 as Cormosbach. According to local tradition, the village was initially on the area called Komlós, from where it moved on its current place after the Tartar invasion. According to Szeli’s chronicle, around 1427, Crizbav already had an autonomous church. Before this, it was only a branch of that from Feldioara. In 1484, Feldioara brought an action against Crizbav due to the capture of Văii Racului water. In the agreement letter, confirmed by the Transylvanian prince Báthory István, it is mentioned as Klysbach. In 1498, King Ulászló II gave the ten Hungarian villages from Burzenland to Brașov, as guarantee. It is mentioned in this document as Kriczpock.

As a result of the Protestant reform of Honterus, the population from Crizbav passed to the Evangelical-Lutheran religion. Prelate Johannes Honterus from Brașov visited in 1544 the parish from Crizbav. A kulak with 25 servants lived at that time in the village. An old ruined church covered with clapboard was on one of the hills, next to it was found a steeple with two medium bells. Near the river was a more modest parish, next to it was the school with the teacher’s house.

During the reign of prince Rákóczi György II, on April 25th 1651, the national assembly from Transylvania donated commune Krisbach to Brașov.

The baptismal font of the parish dates from 1659, offered by Molnár János.

The church altar was donated in 1732 by Gyepesi György and Csiszár.

The priest stand was donated in 1755 by Székely András and his wife from Cernat.

The old church was renovated in 1761 in the period of the parish priest Szász György. The roof covered with clapboard was replaced with a tile one. The porch was made by Demeter Márton and the church also received its first organ then.

In 1780, the priest’s house was built instead of the parsonage.

On April 19th 1796, a house burned up due to the strong wind, out of 288 households only forty escaped. The school together with the teacher’s house also burned up. In 1798, under the guidance of Privigyei Sámuel and chancellor Dévai Sámuel, the school and teacher’s house reconstruction was carried out with a lot of effort.

In 1801, a new bell had to be cast instead of the bigger bell, which was cut apart.

The community members multiplied, so that in 1802 the church was enlarged, a steeple being also built but the plastering did not have the chance to dry well because the earthquake from October 26th 1802 caused huge damages. Ten years were necessary to completely rebuild the church.

The fires did not bypass the commune neither in 1827 nor 1829. A cholera epidemic took place in 1832. In 1833, Crizbav was again burned up and in 1840 the area was shaken by a new earthquake. The steeple of the church was so destroyed that its demolition was ordered and the community decided to build a new bigger and more beautiful church but in a different place.

For the Csango villages from Burzeland, so also for Crizbav, the war of independence from 1848/49 led to the liberation from the yoke of Brașov. From Crizbav, 115 persons enrolled in battalion 86 of Hungarian soldiers and fought bravely until the battle from Chichiș.

At the end of 1849, Szemerjai Demeter Károly, a chased Hungarian officer, searched for shelter in this solitary village. As teacher, notary, priest substitute, he became the leader, real father of the people. On the territory founded by him, called even today Mesterkert [Craftsman’s garden] (45.8244° N; 25.4460° E; 695 m), he founded an orchard, creating an important source of income for the inhabitants of Crizbav because the land is not fertile, even if the village has large territories. Horváth-kert [Horváth garden] next to the craftsman’s garden from Crizbav, became the favorite place of rustic parties.

In 1850, under the leadership of the priest Foris Márton and Szemerjai Károly, in the Monday after the holiday Festum Trinitatis, the headstone of the new church was placed (45.8149° N; 25.4658° E; 641 m) and in 1852, the erected walls and built steeple were plastered.

The existing organ was sold to the reformed Church Community from Chichiș. The new organ was made in 1853 by the famous organ builder Mayvald Heinrich.

The sanctification of the new church was made on May 25th 1854, at the Ascension of the Lord. The church is 29 m long, 13 m wide and 8 m high, the steeple’s height being 38 m. The altar, baptismal font, namely the clock of the old church, made in 1816, which is functional even today, were brought to the new church. Three bells were placed in the steeple, one of 360 kg, one of 240 kg and one of 200 kg, but all three became the prey of the First World War.

In 1859, the priest’s house was built from the material of the old church, in its place.

In 1870 under the leadership of priest Foris Márton and school master Szemerjai Károly, the ecclesiastic school was built on many floors.

On July 26th, Szemerjai Károly died, donating in his will the orchard of 8 yokes from Mureni to the church community.

More than 40 men from Crizbav enrolled in the First World War, out of whom 22 died heroically and 7 disappeared.

In 1925, the bells were replaced and under the leadership of priest Sexty Kálmán, the cultural centre was built in the yard of the priest’s house. In 1937, due to the chase of the Iron Guard, Sexty Kálmán had to hide.

In 1941, the priest Máthé János led the church community, who was summoned many times before the military court in 1944 for repression acts.

The prayer room was built in 1967.

The church steeple was covered again in 1970.

The cultural centre was rebuilt in 1994–1995.

The church was repaired and modernized in 2001 and the prayer room in 2002.

After the presentation of the village history, let’s adventure to the famous fortress Crizbav!

From the church we are going to the village part called Kutastelep, the interesting history of which is presented in number 7/1937 of Encián publication: “The most interesting settlement near Crizbav commune is that of Rroma from Kutus. Approximately 40 Rroma families are living here. They live in specific clay circle-shaped shacks, even the shape of the pigpen having the circle shape. Their occupation is the manufacturing of wood spoons and flour chests, respectively tying broomsticks. The mode of scooping the wood spoon is interesting. The primitive lathe, made of a piece of plank and some scooping knives, bears the print of late Stone Age. Syphilis and granular conjunctivitis is strongly affecting the colony from Kutus. The high infant mortality also denotes the existence of this disease. Out of the 10-12 children of a family, barely 2-3 survive. The territorial doctor from Feldioara made vaccinations, which the colony inhabitants were trying to avoid. They were gathered from Letea forest with gendarmes in order to carry out the vaccination. With respect to the colony establishment, I managed to find out from this people with closed nature that they were colonized here by the Rroma prince called Rákoci, but they don’t know when this happened or they don’t want to tell me.” The circle-shaped clay shacks were called burdé by the locals.

About the access to the fortress, Orbán Balázs wrote: “from Crizbav one has to walk two more hours on the abrupt mountain, shaded now by forests, then one has to climb on abrupt edges of rock, until the traveler reaches below the edge of the cliff, where the fortress is located, at 3509 feet (1100 m) above sea level. The cliff top made in Eocene imitates the shape of a split cone; it is surrounded to the right by the fortress, to the left by the deep riverbed of Vénpatak river”. Leț is related to Bálványos Crest to the left by the edge of the cliff, which was crossed by a chasm of 3-4 m deep in the past. The chasm can be now crossed over by a bridge made of plank.

An indescribable view is waiting for us on the cliff top of Crizbav fortress – Valea Racoșului or Hălchiu – (Castrum Heltwen) (45.8571° N; 25.4483° E; 1104 m). Burzenland can be seen from Apața up to Zărnești, with all the mountains surrounding it.

There are many theories about the origin or construction date of Crizbav fortress but unfortunately none is certain. Some stories attribute the fortress construction to the German order of knights colonized by King Endre II. According to other theory, the fortress was built in the 13th century by a very rich nobleman from Hăghig called Nemes Mihály, for hiding his riches here. He brought the infinity of gold sewn in buffalo skin and hid it in the cave beneath the fortress. The cave with tunnels called várpince (fortress basement) is also called today the path of Nemes Mihály. According to the third theory, Bálványos Crest, behind the fortress, leads to the conclusion that it might also have been one of the fortresses where during the Christian violence from Stephen the Saint’s period, the Szeklers, cherishing their belief, withdrew and brought homage to their idols or national ancient gods. Sometime, a wooden chapel was built on Bálványos Crest, which still existed at the beginning of the past century. Subsequently, a cross was placed in its place. Today, the cross is no longer found there. The fourth theory starts from the fact that the year 1160 could be read in the past on the fortress wall. According to it, King Géza II consolidated the wooden and dirt fortresses built by Szent László in order to protect the border and the fortress from Crizbav would have been also built then.

Today we can see the ruins of a big steeple, namely the remaining basic wall of 1 m wide.

The steeple was still intact at the end of the 17th century, but in 1799 the Eastern part and some of the Southern one collapsed. Nowadays, the Northern and Western parts are erect up to the height of 5-6 m.

The area of the fortress foundation mentioned for the first time in 1335 has approximately 15×10 m. The certificate indicates Wass Miklós as the fortress commander and the certificate of King Louis I of Hungary dating from 1344, mentions Tamás, the son of Veres Péter.

In the certificate drafted on January 16th 1458, the Szekler viscount Kazimiri Masa Mihály is the commander of the fortress from Crizbav.

In order to feed the soldiers from the fortress, Matthias Corvinus donated 100 gold forints to the soldiers from the fortress from the census of Brașov.

The fortress is also mentioned in a certificate in 1462 and the last one in 1477. Its history and destruction is unclear.

The village talks a lot about the sealed cave beneath the fortress, from which a tunnel connecting the fortress from Crizbav to the church from Rotbav and the fortress from Feldioara would have started.

Not only the fortress from Crizbav is famous, but also its many personalities. Dezső family, with Crizbav as first name and who gave the history many priests, writers, public personalities, namely a street in Cluj-Napoca, called Krizbai street, in the 18th – 19th centuries.

His Eminence, Mózes Árpád (Crizbav, July 25th 1931– Budapest, May 1st 2013) evangelical priest, bishop from Transylvania, revolutionary in 1956, was born here.

Seres András (Crizbav, March 23rd 1935 – Arcuș, November 25th 1992), famous ethnographer from Burzenland, was born and buried here.

These distinct personalities reunited in heaven even now as a council, below the fruit trees from Mesterkert, in order to keep alive this tiny Hungarian village in the zigzag corner of Burzenland, for offering a more beautiful future.

…the marriage ceremony is almost ended, so the guests can continue lakadalom (wedding)[3] in the community centre near the church. The priest barely said Amen and two crown bearers disappeared from the church unobserved. They hurried to the cultural centre. They were not even interested in the groom and bride’s ring biscuit that were baked as a horseshoe a night before and filled with poppy and nuts, for the young pair to be lucky in life, that they took the pie and brandy from the table and started running on the main street. Except that the church door opened and the most skillful and fierce siheder (boys)[4] ran after those with the crown and after catching them on the street, they ate together the pie and drank the brandy.

Kovács Lehel István: Térben és időben… Barangolás a Barcaságon
Hétfalusi Magyar Művelődési Társaság, Négyfalu, 2017.
ISBN 978-973-0-25878-3


[1] Ivándiék: gift noun.

[2] Wrinkled embroidery.

[3] Lakadalom: wedding noun [Serb.].

[4] Boy, young man.



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