Slovakian man and woman made from corn husks. He is sitting on a wooden stool and making a basket with small sticks. His eyes are hand painted on a corn husk face, and his hair is corn silk. She is holding a garden hoe and putting potatoes in a basket. Her eyes are hand painted on a corn husk face, and her hair is covered by a corn husk bonnet.
Location: Central Europe
Main language: Slovak
Construction: corn husks
Height in Centimeters: 15
Height in Inches: 6
Reading Level: 5.60
My name is John and I live in Slovakia. I live in the Orava region, which is very close to the border of Poland. Slovakia has four other neighboring countries—Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary and Ukraine. Slovakia is a beautiful country with many rivers, lakes, springs, mountains, forests and valleys. Winter can be very hard in the northern part of Slovakia. However, fall is a breathtaking time to discover the dazzling array of colors to gaze upon. Fiery reds, golden yellows and deep ambers twinkle from the trees.
At the end of the 13th century, Orava was a royal property. Almost all of the villages were owned by noble families and belonged to castle owners. Orava was also a very important trade route leading to Poland. This route was used for wagons carrying cloth, salt, lead and other goods.
Our region is well known for its fertile land. Many farmers in Orava raise cattle and sheep. Others, like me, make crafts to sell in the markets. I make baskets out of small twigs. It is not easy to make wicker baskets. It requires patience, skill and persistence. The twigs are cut from the great sallow tree that grows near the stream.
One day, when I was selling my baskets at the farmer’s market, I met a beautiful woman named Maria. Her selling stand was right next to mine. She was selling cloth linen that she made on a hand-loom. She had beautiful table cloths, coasters and clothes. These are not easy products to make.
Suddenly, I heard somebody yelling. Maria and I looked at each other in fear. A man was approaching us and laughing at our products. He was making fun of us. He said it was stupid for us to waste our time making baskets and linen. Maria started crying when he kicked my table and all my baskets fell down. Then he started to pull the linen off her table. I screamed for help. I heard a horse galloping. A very nicely dressed man jumped from his horse and pulled the man away from Maria. Then he took the man to jail.
When that day was over and I decided I would never go back to that farmer’s market again. A few days later, I was working on a new set of wicker baskets for my neighbor. Suddenly, I heard Maria calling my name. She was running out of breath to tell me the great news. She said that after the incident at the farmers market, a woman from the castle offered her a job making clothes for the royals. The castle lady also said that she should bring the man who had called for help. That was me. The King decided to hire me to make baskets for his fisherman!
I married Maria and moved to the castle with her. What an irony that an ugly man helped me find my true love and a new job! Remember, that hard and honest work is always rewarded.
Many people in Slovakia follow these traditions from generation to generation. They still make wicker baskets and sell them in markets. These baskets can be used for freshly made bread or to store vegetables in the pantry. Wicker trays are used to serve coffee or tea. Some people even make furniture out of wicker.