17-year-old social media recluse is a tradition keeper, maintains folk crafts museum at home

Madalin Marian Lita – a 17-year-old 10th grader from the village of Balteni, Buzau County, is a social media recluse, but loves traditional crafts: he set up a folk art museum right at his home, picking the weaving loom and wool spinning over communication platforms.

Madalin started collecting traditional objects since childhood. From the donations received and the purchases made over time, he managed to put together a small folk crafts museum that includes an approximately 70-year-old weaving loom on which he learned to make carpets, rugs and other handwoven ware.

“I am a keeper of our Romanian traditions. I started collecting antique items 5 years ago, and 4 years ago I founded this mini museum. We have two weaving looms, a spinning wheel, distaffs, wool carders, woven dowries, an old pick-up, oil lamps of yore, wooden troughs, all kinds of things that I collected from the elders of the village. My father has a rather serious medical issue. As I kid I spent my time at home with my great-grandmother, I watched her work the loom, spin wool and crochet. When I was little, she gave me something to keep my hands busy and sit still, and that’s how I fell in love with these things. I think the most special item in the collection is the loom, I wove woolen rugs myself, a bedspread, cloth for traditional blouses, handicraft products, purses. I think it’s about 70 years old. I was quick to learn how to weave,” Madalin confessed.

The 17-year-old has no Facebook or Instagram account, and only has a mobile phone to keep in touch with his classmates and teachers on WhatsApp groups.

He devotes most of his free time to household chores and lessons, but he has a passion for weaving, along with collecting and interpreting folk songs.

Romanian language teacher Catalina Popa from the Buzau Technical High School organized a working bee in Madalin Marian Lita’s yard, where the village elders were invited to participate alongside the young generation. This was an opportunity for the old folks to reminiscence on how they used to spend their free time decades ago.

“At the autumn working bee, we carded wool or cotton. The young folks didn’t shy away from work, then they roasted corn kernels, the boys brought wine, the girls made popcorn on the stove and then we danced. One played the flute, another the clarinet, a third one the bagpipe, and we would dance and sing. Dozens of young people would gather to shuck the corn, and after we finished we would join in a ring and dance our shoes off. Now there are very few young people to care for this, everyone is on their phone,” says Rada Stroe, a local woman.

The working bee ended with an artistic moment and a ring dance in which young and old took part, a true bonding bridge between generations.