A nearly extinct tradition
Isolated in scattered homesteads at the top of the mountains, the old time dwellers of the Apuseni Mountains – the Moti – used the long pipe called tulnic both as a musical instrument and as a sort of mobile phone. Its profound, troubling sounds made up a whole communication code. „That’s how shepherds, or girls and boys talked to each other, each from their own hilltop. And that’s how they called men to war”, says Paraschiva Petruse, 53, from Patrahaitesti, Alba, one of the few women in the Apuseni Mountains who still know how to play the tulnic. The communication code has been lost and today, Paraschiva only plays her pipe at local weddings.
„The Romanian instrument is related to the Ukrainean or Polish trambitza, the Italian truba, the Scandinavian luur and the Swiss alpenhorn”, says Magda Andreescu, curator at the Romanian Peasant Museum.
The craftsmen who still make tulnics are also very few. Aurel Mocanu, 53, has learned the trade when he was a boy. „I’ve learned it from my father who had learned it from his father”. The meter-long pipe can only be made from the wood of a fir tree grown far away from water sources, up, on the top of the mountain. „The wood is slit lengthways, hollowed out, then glued together and fixed with belts, also made of fir”, Mocanu explains. His craftsmanship could be saved from extinction by the Germans from Deusche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), who founded a touristic network in the Aries region, home to the Moti. More and more tourists come up the mountain, to buy tulnics right from the craftsmen’s homes. A big one, 2 or 3 metres long, costs around 30 Euros.