Nowadays most of us underestimate the real value of the Romanian traditions and popular culture so we tend to leave behind traditional objects, costumes or rituals and try to imitate the western behavior. But there are young people determined to save this inheritance, who want to raise awareness that if we give up to all forms of tradition, we will lose our identity. Sebastian Paic, a young PhD student, has travelled hundreds of kilometers to meet people in Romanian villages so as to buy costumes and objects that would have been thrown away. That’s how he managed to have a collection of over 1000 traditional pieces and turned his dorm room into a real museum.
Sebastian Paic is a young chemistry PhD student at Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca who loves the Romanian traditions and costumes. Everything started when he was in high school in Brașov and attended some Romanian culture and spirituality workshops. Together with his colleagues, he learned about the ancient traditional art forms. The passion of the professor who was teaching inspired him and in 2004 he seriously thought about starting a collection of traditional costumes.
He went from village to village and knocked on every single door to ask if someone had some objects or costumes to be sold. Because he wanted to save money he did hitchhiking. From the travelling per se to the negotiation for each costume, everything was an adventure.
“When I go in villages, most of people say they had costumes, but they have thrown them away or they burned them. That’s why every time I buy an object or a piece of a costume I have a good feeling that I can save a little part that could have been destroyed. It is like an adventure in which you are hunting treasures.”
Almost every penny he got from his parents as a student or the scholarship, he invested in costumes some of them with over one hundred years old antiquity. His collection gathers over 1000 pieces of traditional costumes from 38 ethnographic areas. For 9 years, a corner in his dorm room was a real museum. He was lucky to have kind roommates who understood his passion and the aim of the collection.
“I lived for 9 years in Hașdeu student campus and my collection had become bigger and bigger and I needed to deposit it in my room. I had very kind colleagues who offered me support and I really want to thank them for that because sometimes I was using their space too. It was hard to keep all the costumes folded sometimes the piles reached the celling, they were not so properly deposited.”
He can barely find the proper words to describe what feeling he has when he wears a traditional costume.
“I would answer to this question with a saying of my teacher Ioan Sorin Apan: “when you are dressed with a traditional costume, you wear an entire world because the traditional costume is like a portable temple.”
His involvement in promoting the traditions and costumes does not stop here. Together with the Zestrea Association, he wants to inform the public through workshops or exhibitions about the importance of preserving the objects, costumes and rituals and also to teach them how to see the difference between the authentic objects and the ones that only imitate the traditional standards. His biggest dream is to gather in his collection a costume from each ethnographic region. His collection was admired in exhibitions in Cluj, Sibiu or Chișinău.