Now that the Super Bowl of American football is over, feast your eyes on some amazing feats of coordination and teamwork in Hungary. I believe the narration is in Hungarian, but the video is multi-lingual. Huge bowls like this seem to have been used in many cultures across the world, for animal processing and other tasks.
A friend drew my attention to the film last week, and I notice something new each time I watch it. Some brief observations:
- The immensity and weight of the bowl itself keeps it in place with little need for work-holding considerations. It also makes it practical to cut the two cross-grain trenches followed by the splitting out of the wood in between.
- The skill and accuracy of the axe work is notable, along with the ease and fluidity of the practiced motions. Check out the slow-motion shot of the axe rotation between strokes about six and a half minutes in.
- Their practiced hands and eyes, accustomed to this particular form, achieve the shape with very few guidelines it seems; just a few checks here and there with an axe handle.
- That wide adze with the sharply drooped head and short handle can rotate around across the grain in the wide hollow. Lovely to watch the work with the adze on the exterior ends and handles as well. Kept sharp with quick skillful strokes of a simple slipstone.
- I wonder if the carved wooden breast bib is intended to protect their clothes from the drawknife at least as much as their flesh. The one drawknife is missing a wooden handle. Maybe he prefers it that way; regardless, it doesn’t hold him back.
- The justified pride shown by the man lifting the complete bowl to the wall next to the others is timeless. I love how he taps on the surfaces, I presume to demonstrate the evenness of tone or the simple fact that the wood has been carved thin enough to resonate to some degree. I felt a connection to him, as I often find myself tapping finished bowls to hear the tone.
- Family/community members of all ages are around during the work, and join in, especially during the spoon carving session during the last part of the film. My best guess, based on the credits at the end, is that this was filmed in 1962.
And that’s just scratching the surface…