Purcăreni (Pürkerec)

Pürkerec, Pulchretia or Purpura, Pürkeresse, Purcăreni. Village at 15 km east of Brașov, on the right bank of Zizin river. In 1880, out of its 2038 inhabitants, 1114 were Hungarian; namely 843 were Romanian speakers, in 2002, out of 1427 inhabitants, 554 are Hungarian. One hundred years earlier, out of 2092 persons, 1110 were Hungarian. This small Hungarian community preserves old Hungarian popular traditions even today, although this is not easy being in the past the minority group between the old Transylvanian Saxons and nowadays between Romanian and living in the shadow of a large town…


*         *

Wild trampling on the beaten snow. Many screams, purple flames. Deep black shadows in the twilight. Scary masks: eagle feathers, horse hair and pig fangs. Swords are clashing. “One, two, three…Four are fighting life-and-death. The swords produce sparks. The bells are ringing. In the end, the weakest one collapses. “The devil is inside him!” And the swords cut the skin, meat, bones. Only death cleans the soul, body. The bells intensify. They evoke the creation power. Swords in scabbards: the whip time has come. Wild sound to banish the evil and to attract goodness here. New, powerful soul in the slaughtered one. The whip handle sticks the body together, heals the wounds and a last strong clap guides the soul in it. The divine miracle of resurrection. A new life is born, a new faith emerges, to which the evil no longer has access. The initiation was completed. The weak one became strong, the boy became a man. “He can mán (already)[1] run like the Csitkuó (foal)[2] from the plain!”

The pantomime dance of kuka (mute)[3] closes borica, the old hora of Csango men from Seven Villages. It is an initiation ritual, a magical activity, a sacral order. The symbol of Sun’s rebirth. The preparations and repetitions take place during the Advent, the period of Christmas waiting. In the past, in the winter solstice, borica was danced from house to house and the ritual was extended until the carnival before the Lent. The Council from Brașov, referring to the imperial order, forbidden borica on February 6th 1764, so this could be danced only secretly in the day of Small Saints (Aprószentek[4]). In 1861, ZajzoniRab István described it as a disappeared tradition but it exists nowadays, as proof that it was reborn.

The boys wear black or white cloth stockings and grey or black[5] szëttër (jersey)[6]. They wear sheepskin hats on their head, which were decorated with colored bows and feather grass. They have long boots in their feet, with spurs, bling and watch bells. They are holding in their hands a decorated csákány (pickax) or lapocka (shoulder blade)[7] on which they are waving a sajinka (silk scarf)[8].

Those who are dancing borica enter the yard in turns, in front being tebe[9], the boy holding the fir tree. Golden fruits hang from the fir tree. He is followed by two-three Rroma: one playing the flute, one playing the violin and a kobza player. After them, comes the group of borica dancers, in front of them are two vatáfi (bailiffs)[10]. They are followed by kuka (masked persons), who try by their game to keep the crowd at distance. At the end are those with baskets and nyáshordozuók (nyás bearers)[11], they carry with them the meat, eggs, sausage and bread received. If the house owner forgot in the yard a small tool and the masked person finds it, then he does not return it until he receives one Kreuzer from the host.

A big party is organized in the evening from the food and money collected. The dancers, guided by vatáfi (bailiffs) dance in the hora rotating to the right – left and consisting in the multiple repetition of themes (borica one, two, three and Turkish borica).


*         *

The name of Purcăreni appears for the first time in 1498, in a pledge letter issued by the Hungarian King Ulászló II, – although the settlement is at least 150 years older.

Until 1445, its parish belonged to Szent Mihály (Saint Michael) church from Cernat. The mother church from Purcăreni was formed in 1447 and in 1450, the small Gothic church with fortress walls was built on the rocky hill, sanctified for paying tribute to the Magdalen (45.6480° N; 25.7870° E; 596 m). In those times, Tărlungeni, Zizin, Budila and Teliu also belonged to it. The last two of them became detached in 1520 and Tărlungeni in 1686. At the visit from 1544 to Purcăreni, Honterus found here a school and a teacher. 59 families were living in Three Villages at the time, who were annually giving 10 silver coins, grains and firewood to the priest and the teacher annually received from them 4 silver coins and three breads. Not before long, under the influence of the Transylvanian Saxon reformer, those Purcăreni passed to the evangelical faith.

The Medieval church is also present nowadays but it suffered many extensions and modifications.

The small sanctuary preserves the forms of polygonal closure and the semi-circle shaped triumphal arc. The sacristy remained but it was embedded in the sanctuary. Identically, the tower base combined with the church nave. Although the consolidated wall of the fortress protected the village many times against Tartars and Turks, in 1761 the church was rebuilt again with small height walls.

In the great fire from 1767, almost the entire village burned, however the flames did not touch the church. Also in that year, the miller Bacsó Mihály and his wide donated an organ to the church. In 1778, the church was extended with a porch. On May 30th 1793, the tower was damaged by a lightning, during the repairs it was made higher with one “German cord”. The writings of the priest Deák András, who were placed by him in 1794 in the globe above the steeple, narrate in detail the works. The priest’s house was built in 1804. In 1818, Zizin also separated from it, thus becoming an autonomous church unit.

The new school, built together with the priest’s house, opened its gates in 1834.

In 1848, 59 young men from Purcăreni, who took part in the battles from Timiș, Mândra, Făgăraș and Șona, enrolled in battalion 126 of Hungarian soldiers from Seven Villages.

The very nicely decorated city hall was built in 1868.

In the period 1873-1883, using the plans of the builder Véber György from Brașov, the church was rebuilt, almost completely enlarged and two bells were mounted in the tower. In 1859, a new house for the priest was built.

At the church renovation, the burial place of the priest Pap György was found in the foundation of the demolished chapel. Nowadays, the tomb decorates the entry in the church: “Stop, pilgrim, you ask /Who is buried here /The body of my Lord/His Eminence Pap György/Is resting here/However, his soul is in heaven/He is glad/After the sound of the trumpets/The two shall unite /He served for 54 years/And in this house he lived seventy-eight years/In the world:/Onethousandsevenhundredtwenty/Two he deceased/He was placed in this Grave/In the month of Ivan.”

In the First World War, 40 men lost their lives and 26 disappeared. The bell was confiscated then. A new one was placed in its stead only just in 1922.

Boilers for burning the lime were found in the past in Káposztáskert (Cabbage garden).

Those from Seven Villages mockingly called those from Purcăreni meszes (lime burners) because they burned the limestone and sold it. The boilers made of brick of 4-5 m high and 3.5 m diameter were deepened in the ground. Each of the 5 boilers was able to burn 12-14 carriages of stone. 6-7 carriages of lime resulted from it, which were brought by those from Purcăreni to far fairs with the tarp carriages.

Around 1938, two of the boilers were enlarged, thus becoming able to burn 22 carriages of stone.

The necessary stone was brought from the stone pit found in the locality and the rolling stone was brought from the rivers Tărlung and Zizin. The supply of boilers was made by employed workers and the operation of boilers sometimes corresponded to a ceremony. Early in the morning, the two törüő (stone breakers) began working with their hammers with long handle. Later, the rakuó (loaders) came, who built the stones around them, standing in the middle of the boilers. They were placing a row of kutyafej (dog head)[12] in a circle, a row of rendküő (ordinary stone), then a row of apruó (gravel). The stones with corresponding size were brought in small wooden tubs by horduó (carrier), at the száda (mouth)[13] of the lime oven and were given to biészedüő (collector). When the builder could no longer reach the pile of stones, he made a scaffold of wood of one meter long placed as a galic (cage)[14]. Across the holes from the lime oven, they were leaving an opening and building a pass with the flat stones. The mouth of the lime oven was closed by bricking and a smaller opening for wood was left.

For burning a lime oven, they needed 14-15 cord feet of beech and it was lit by the two tüzelüő (stokers). The stones were burned for three days. The boiler was left to cool for half a day before taking out the burned lime, then with kapácska (small hoes), the huzuó (pullers) pulled the lime in the through and placed the burned lime – grey-white crushed calcium oxide, in solid state of aggregation – in carriages.

After nationalization, the burning of limestone disappeared but the Cabbage garden preserved also other surprises.

At almost one kilometer south-east of the village, at the old stone pit (45.6373° N; 25.8040° E; 718 m), the archeologists found a rock with fossils. The lime block described in 1954 by the geologist Dan Patrulius contains the fossilized skeletons from the Upper Jurassic and Cretaceous Age of salt water animals: corals, crabs, seashells – especially snails Zeilleria, respectively Terebratulina – and the bank of corals from Transylvania, which remained in the possible integral state. Nowadays, the rock is considered a geological reservation and it is a protected area.

In the present, Purcăreni is part of Tărlungeni Commune and together with Zizin, forms the Three Villages from Seven Villlages. The other four were united and in 1950 they created Săcele city. Purcăreni chose the path of preserving old traditions. Although nowadays many inhabitants from Brașov build weekend cottages on this village, here can still be found the old popular traditions of Csango, especially egg decoration and old charming borica.

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


[1] Mán: already hsz.

[2] Csitkuó: foul noun[Animal].

[3] Kuka: masked person, mute character in borica noun [Holiday].

[4] Thus, put in between the festive games of Small Saints from the Szekler region, borica was danced secretly.

[5] The colors of the costume differed from village to village (Tărlungeni, Zizin, Purcăreni)

[6]Szëttër: jersey noun [Clothing].

[7] Csákány was a type of decorated stick, lapocka was a piece of decorated wood, similar to the wood used for beating the laundry when washing them.

[8]Sajinka: silk scarf noun [Clothing].

[9] Tebe: fire tree decorated with apples, bows, used for borica dance noun [Holiday].

[10] Vatáf: Bailiff. Leader in borica dance noun [Holiday].

[11] Nyáshordozuó: role in borica dance noun [Holiday].

[12] Stone of a dog head size.

[13] Száda: mouth noun.

[14] Kalicka, galic: cage noun.



Spiritual heritage

Local products

Our recommandations

Hostel Zozo House

A welcoming and cosy cabin, suited with the urban comfort. It's the perfect base to discover and explore the most beautiful s...

Read more
Pilvax Restaurant

In the center of Brașov, guests can enjoy the unique aroma of tastes inspired by Hungarian and Transylvanian cuisine. Serve...

Read more