A little history


Particular productions


Book "Natural Geometries"













The story of the society, of its usages, of its costumes from matera are heritage of the peasant past and its people; as the all South of Italy Matera has always linked its economy to agricultural work besides the pastoral one. During the Bourbon time the South was divided into large estates belonging to big land owners who ran them without introducing the essential technological innovations able to increase the productivity and reduce the toils and the work of peasants and farm labourers. This lassitude culture, tied to a mere hope that the land had to be so magnanimous and generous to "give" its fruits to those who had been cultivating it all the year, had maintained also after and more than the unity of Italy.
As regards for example the agricultural machines and the systems of fields cultivation, the backward South peasant culture it's unquestionably emphasized by the methodical use of equipments which are by now obsolete in comparison to elsewhere; when the human and the animal driving force were unwonted in the North of Italy; they were constantly used in the South.
In this context the reproduction of models in scale of old agricultural equipments used mainly between the 19th and 20th century in Matera and its surroundings wants from one side to remember, to revive and show the machines and the tools used by our grandfathers and great-grandfathers and to the other side to make us reflect on sacrifices, on toil and difficulties that our forefathers had to face every day to live from the fruits of their work.




Between the 19th and 20th century the typical activities of peasant work were carried out by wooden and iron means or made with both materials, these were drawn by animals helped by man.
These means totally made of wood or with small iron components were typical of the 19th century while in the 20th century they were bit by bit replaced by totally metallic implements. Plows, harrows, rollers, at first constructed on one's own according to empirical principals of operation, which were handed down from our parents and amply wide-spread were then or bought by Italian and foreign firms specialized in the agricultural mechanical branch or reproduced by local artisans or blacksmiths. Agricultural machines at the beginning heavy, not very functional and subject to a constant wear and tear, were replaced by lighter, more efficient and easy to handle machines; as for example the characteristic "disk furrower", able to make furrows not deeper than 10cm. into the earth, were replaced by the more modern mouldboard plow or voltorecchi, which were thought to make regular and deeper furrows (20-30 cm when drawn by animals, and 40-50 cm when drawn by a tractor) and to move the earth better.
The most commonly used woods to make agricultural equipments were the hard ones like, the oak, the almond, the cherry, the pear, the walnut, and the olive able to stand the common stress of furrowers and harrows; instead woods like the aspen and the fir were used to construct the vehicles beds and the guides. As regards the most commonly used metals, we have to say that, even though the agricultural equipments manufactured by big specialized firms were made of cast iron, steel, chrome plated steel, vanadium steel, malleable iron, at local level the blacksmiths produced them only by using malleable iron or for the furrowers colters, in hardened steel.
The most useful equipments to cultivate the land were certainly the furrowers; on the basis of the land type to be ploughed they used different furrowers drawn by one or more mules. For example in very tilted lands, they used the voltorecchi furrowers that allow, thanks to a system that permitted the furrower topple from left to right, to move the earth always towards the valley, this simplified and made the work less tiring. Some of the furrowers allowed the colter adjusting or by more complex mechanism, the colter moving towards left or right by considering the furrow track.
The simple furrowers, as said before, were the result of the local craftsmanship while those with more mechanisms were bought by the big firms which manufactured agricultural products, these were especially Italian (Gardini, Ridolfi, Tommaselli), Belgian (Mélotte), German (Sack, Eckert, Eberhadt, Flother) and American. Taken into account the wide spread illiteracy of that period and the uneasy pronunciation of foreign words, the name brand of some foreign furrowers were translated into dialect; that's why for example, the furrower model Brabant (brabantino in Italian) made by Mélotte firm in Gembloux (Belgium) was named "B" RBOND (rascal) in Matera and Melotto in the close Laterza (Ta) while the furrower made by the German firm Floter for the South of Italy simply became "L'ARET TEDASCK" which means the German furrower.

© Copyright 2005 Antonio Cosola
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