Plzeňské sympozia

Lydia Petráňová

"There Is Light in the Fireplace, Grandmother Nods Off, the Girls Spin Soft Flax." How our Ancestors Used to Light Their Home

pp. 152–161 (Czech), Summary pp. 162 (English)

Th?e contrast between light and darkness is one of the fundamental determinant systems of traditional popular material and spiritual culture. Interior lighting in the countryside in the Czech lands in the 19th century continued to use the same methods and instruments as it had done throughout the early modern age, when the open
fireplace gradually shifted from the chamber into the "black kitchen". Both portable and stable sources of light were used, the former including lamps, lanterns, torches, and candles, and the latter dominated by pine torches. Pine torches fixed in stands were placed in the fireplace, a small recess between the door and the stove. Lighting
from above was provided by a different kind of fireplace, an iron basket below a chimney cowl fixed to the ceiling. From the times of the Enlightenment reforms both types of fireplace were subject to building regulations and had to have a separate smoke outlet through a masonry chimney. An innovation in the first half of the 19th century
was lighting fires with matches, and the end of the century saw the spread of petroleum lamps with cylindrical lampshades.

Key words: traditional folk culture - countryside - interior lighting - lamp - candle
- pine torch


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