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MYTH*ING LINKS
An Annotated & Illustrated Collection of Worldwide Links to Mythologies,
Fairy Tales & Folklore, Sacred Arts & Sacred Traditions
by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.

GEOGRAPHICAL REGIONS

CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE:
THE FINNO-UGRIC PEOPLES


HUNGARY /
TRANSYLVANIA

[Also see my page on Romania, since many issues I raise here continue on that page.
Further, see the Central & Eastern Europe Portal Page --
it has significant links to the whole region, especially two that explore the historical reasons
behind the West's tragic dismembering of this region.]


[Map from a now-defunct site]

19 August 2001
Author's Note:

I created this page more than a year ago, but it only had a handful of links.  Constant demands drew my attention elsewhere, leaving this page with many ungrokked links.  I did not know until recently, when an eloquent Hungarian complained about the inadequacy of the above map, how ruthlessly Hungary had been dismembered after World War I.  Especially bitter for Hungary was the loss of what we know as Transylvania (Erdély in Hungarian), a large, beautiful, mysterious region that was given to Romania by France at Trianon in 1920 to punish Hungary for siding with Germany during the war.  As my Hungarian correspondent pointed out to me, "The Hungarian culture is not limited to the trianon boarders.  Most of Hungary's history and culture is best represented in Transylvania (since Transylvania more or less remained the only chunk of Hungary not occupied by the Ottomans or by the Austrians)...."

Because I am sympathetic to such concerns, I spent hours trying to find a physical map of pre-1920 Hungary that would fit on my page.  I found that they exist but they're huge and take forever to load (see new page of maps & links below).  Thus, I am including one that includes very little of the rest of Hungary but it does show Transylvania lying in her lovely "horseshoe" of mountains......


[Map from Erdelyilobby]
It is not my purpose to take sides -- although personally I loathe mean-spirited, vengeful, petty politicians who guarantee the endless cycle of violence by sanctimoniously carving up the ancient lands of ancient enemies.  The map of Europe is a bloodstained, threadbare palimpsest, made toxic by eons of warring ethnicities and greedy power-mongers.  Always caught in the middle are vast numbers of displaced or slaughtered innocents.  History confirms that Transylvania is indeed rich with Hungarian culture, myth, and sacred traditions.  Regardless of current boundaries, it deserves to be included in a mythographic look at the Finno-Ugric peoples of Hungary.
[Note: for fellow map-lovers, I have created a separate page with more maps
as well as direct links to other sites.  It's at:
Myth*ing Links'Hungary/Transylvania Maps Page.]


HUNGARIAN HISTORY


Scene photographed 1600 metres above Balánbánya in Transylvania
© Peter Makrai (see directly below)

http://web.interware.hu/pmakrai/geocities/trianon.html: [updated 3 February 2010]

[Added 21 August 2001]: "A Few Words on How Hungarians Feel about Trianon" is a powerful essay by Peter Makrai, a young Hungarian from Budapest, who visited Transylvania in 1997, loved his experience, and yet deeply mourned the loss of the region.   It was this brief essay that gave me an understanding of what had so upset my Hungarian correspondent.  As Makrai writes:
...I am talking about the 1920 Trianon stealing peace treaty which made the size of the neighboring countries unfairly much much bigger, by attaching more than half part of the Hungarian soil to them, after WWI. It doesnt just mean the stealing of our mineral resources, our beautiful old towns and villages, doesn't just mean the tearing of our 'naturally belonging together' regions, it doesn't just mean the tearing of the roads, railways, rivers which were needed for the blood circulation of the whole country, but it also horribly tore apart the organic connection threads of the body of the nation, the relation threads of the four million Hungarian families....

The stamp of "sinful nation" [i.e., Hungary is the "sinful nation"] is still in the mind of the people (which was planted into their mind by the ideologists of the communist system). And that's the reason that even today we don't really dare to cry it out -to the world by full blast- our national suffering-hurting.  Because it so called would hurt for example the national sensitivity of Romanians or Slovakians (the ones who have unclean, dark conscience because they stole half of our country.) This shameful act was made by the French president Clemenceau in 1920, with his evil, short seeing "conception", of creating an anti German "small entente (antant)" around the German friendly Hungary, (by reinforcing Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia in territory). This devilish redrawing of border has already failed and collapsed (see the separation of Czech Republic and Slovakia, Serbia and Croatia which in my opinion soon will be followed by the separation of Romania and Transylvania....

Note: Makrai's essay about his journey to Transylvania as well as his fine photos (the opening B&W one is especially stunning) are at: http://web.interware.hu/pmakrai/geocities/index.html: [updated 3 February 2010]
http://www.hungary.org/users/hipcat/trianon.htm
[Added 22 August 2001]: This is another sobering look at Trianon:
The Treaty of Trianon (1920)... in the aftermath of WWI, was extremely harsh on Hungary and unjustifiably one-sided. The resulting "treaty" lost Hungary an unprecedented 2/3 of her territory, and 1/2 of her total population or 1/3 of her Hungarian-speaking population. Add to this the loss of up to 90% of vast natural resources, industry, railways, and other infrastructure. This was done to a nation whose borders were established over a thousand years earlier (896 A.D.) and one who lost countless lives defending the rest of Europe from numerous invasions from the likes of the Mongolian Tatars and the Ottoman Turks....
Indigenous peoples worldwide will understand the horror of this, but most powerful populations will not.  This is tragic because it means we are doomed to repeat such inhumane injustices whenever it suits our manipulative, self-serving concept of ethics.


[Stained glass detail from "Lovely Maiden Julia," 1913,
by Hungarian artist, Sándor Nagy --
see below under Hungarian Fine Arts]

http://www.cc.ukans.edu/history/VL/europe/hungary.html: [Link updated 30 March 2002]
[Added 23 August 2001]:This is the World Wide Web Virtual Library for Hungary -- an extensive academic collection of links to maps, language, research sources, journals, libraries, and history (ranging from ancient to modern, including the Jews of Hungary).  I highly recommend this one, but you'll need to plan on devoting a good deal of time to explore it.
http://www.hungary.org/~hipcat/history.htm
[Added 23 August 2001]:This is another historical essay on Hungary -- literate and passionate (with great links at the end).  Near the beginning is the following:
...Hungary has also been known for its tolerance which had its foundations as far back as St. Stephen as shown in the remarkable quote below.
"Make the strangers welcome in this land, let them keep their languages and customs, for weak and fragile is the realm which is based on a single language or on a single set of customs."   "(Unius linguae uniusque moris regnum imbecille et fragile est)" -- St. Stephen in a letter to his son St. Emeric, 1036 A.D.
http://hungaria.org/lists/folklor/archivum/hungarianhistory.shtml
[Added 21 August 2001]: Continuing the theme of tolerance from the above site, this is a brief history of Hungary and provides an interesting collection of facts -- for example, on medieval witches and witch hunts:
...King Ka'lma'n (1095-1116) issued a decree forbidding witch hunts and trials in Hungary because "witches do not exist." This decree was observed for centuries....
Would that the rest of Europe and the New World had been as tolerant.  Unfortunately, however, even Hungary had her limits and, tragically, especially in Transylvania, these limits excluded the neighboring Eastern Orthodox Romanians.  As a Romanian-American author explains:
 In 1604, [Hungarian] Stephen Bocskay led a rebellion against Austrian rule, and in 1606 he was recognized by the emperor as prince of Transylvania.  Under Bocskay's successors -- especially Gabriel Bethlen and George I Rákóczy -- Transylvania had its golden age. The principality was the chief center of Hungarian culture and humanism, the main bulwark of Protestantism in E. Europe, and the only European country where Roman Catholics, Calvinists, Lutherans, and Unitarians lived in mutual tolerance. Orthodox Romanians, however, were denied equal rights.... [see: http://www.catherders.net/Transy/SecondaryPage-1.htm]
http://www.lib.msu.edu/sowards/balkan/lect07.htm
[Added 6 September 2001]: For another look at issues of intolerance in Hungary as a whole, this time from a professional historian, here's an excellent page taken from Twenty-Five Lectures on Modern Balkan History.  This is "Lecture 7: Nationalism in Hungary, 1848-1867," by Steven W. Sowards, Reference Head of the Main Library at Michigan State University [Note: the page also includes much on Croatia].  It is detailed, lucid, exhaustive, brilliant, and filled with depressing dirty politics, made the more so because, with the advantage of hindsight, we know where it all ends decades later.  Here's an excerpt concerning Hungary's short-sighted intolerance:
...The April Laws were the culmination of a popular nationalist trend embraced by ethnic Hungarians, but one that ignored or offended the non-Magyar ethnic minorities.  The extension of use of the Magyar language (generally supplanting Latin) was a gauge of national chauvinism in Hungary.  In 1831 mastery became a requirement to pass the legal bar; in 1838 it became the official language of laws passed in the Diet; in 1839 it became the language of internal administrative memos, and was required of all priests; in 1844 it became the official language of secondary education; and now in 1848 it became a test for voters.  Jews remained second-class citizens, barred from holding office.  The language laws discriminated against Slovak, Romanian, and South Slav minorities in the northern, eastern, and southern regions.  While Magyars pursued autonomy for themselves, they ignored the same desires among these groups....
I highly recommend this site.  As is said so often, yet not often enough, those unaware of their history are doomed to repeat it.  That's a risk we cannot afford to take again.

[Stained glass detail from "Lovely Maiden Julia," 1913,
by Hungarian artist, Sándor Nagy --
see below under Hungarian Fine Arts]

http://h-net2.msu.edu/~judaic/articles/hungary1

[Added 23 August 2001]:Written by Peter I. Hidas, Ph.D., of Dawson College, Montreal, this is a very disturbing account of Jews in Hungary, especially during WWII.  Hungary played a role as dark as the other nations around her, but don't overlook the blame of the rest of us:
...The British government forbade Palestinian Jewish commandoes to parachute into Hungary and arouse the Jews. The Americans refused to bomb the railway lines leading to Auschwitz. The Canadian government declined to take in Hungarian Jewish children. The Allies disallowed trading trucks for lives [a plan] earnestly offered by the SS....
http://www.heritagefilms.com/HUNGARY.html
[Added 23 August 2001]:This is the "Jewish History of Hungary," a large educational site covering the following categories: Middle Ages to the Ottoman Conquest; Period of the Ottoman Conquest; 18th to 19th Centuries (Until 1867); The Emancipation Period, 1867–1914; Internal Life during the 19th Century; 1919 to 1939; Holocaust Period; German Occupation; Ghettoization and Deportation; Resistance and Rescue; Demographic Total; Contemporary Period; Developments in the 1970s; Relations with Israel; In The 1970s; The 1980s; Assimilation, Zionism, Aliyah; Antisemitism; Jewish Education; Organizational Structure; Rabbis and Spiritual Leadership; and Hungary-Israel ReIations.

9th Century Hungarian/Magyar Horsemen
  From: http://www.hunmagyar.org/costumes/huncost4.htm
Copyright © by Gyula Laszlo
http://www.historicaltextarchive.com/macartney/t.html
[Added 27 August 2001]: This is the portal page for C.A. Macartney's Hungary: A Short History, originally published in Edinburgh by Edinburgh University Press, 1962, and now online in HTA (Historical Text Archive from Don Mabry).  The title says "A Short History" -- well, it isn't short but it's carefully researched and definitely worth exploring.  Given the on-going conflict over who was in Transylvania first, the Hungarians or the Romanians, and the escalating, well-meaning attempts on both sides to establish ever more ancient continuity timelines, Macartney's work is especially relevant.....(see next link):
http://www.historicaltextarchive.com/macartney/one.html
[Added 27 August 2001]: This is Chapter One of Macartney's work (see directly above) -- here are the most important passages from the perspective of Transylvanian timelines:
THE BEGINNINGS

No STATE in European history has a beginning so precisely definable as Hungary. It was brought into being well-nigh full-panoplied, by a single act, when the Magyars, until then a people without fixed abode, entered the basin of the middle Danube, a place at that juncture as good as masterless, and made it their home. This was in the last years of the ninth century A.D....

...Even if we disregard the high mountains and Transylvania, which usually lived its own life, the fates of the two parts of the plain in early times and the Dark Ages were often very different, sometimes sharply opposed. The western half was usually peopled and intermittently controlled from its immediate or remoter central European, or Italian, hinterlands; for several centuries it belonged to Rome. By contrast, the Great Plain was recurrently occupied by waves of nomadic horsemen, the overspill from the seemingly inexhaustible reservoir of these peoples which then filled the Pontic, Caspian and central Asiatic steppes. Scythians, Sarmatians, Huns (with their Germanic subjects), Bulgars and Avars all successively sought in it a refuge from more powerful neighbours, and a home.

These two elements - Europe and Asia - strove for mastery, and neither ever achieved it quite completely. The horsemen, when they arrived, were usually the stronger in the field and some of them carried their conquests across the Danube and as far as the western forests, but in time they always weakened, their empires collapsed and Europe reasserted itself. On the other hand, the Europeans seldom ventured beyond what was for them the greatest of natural defensive lines, the Danube; the Romans themselves, who for a while held Transylvania as well as the west, left the Great Plain alone, even during a long period when its nomadic population was exceptionally weak. There were other times when neither Asia nor Europe was present in force, and when the whole Basin was little more than a no-man's land, and the end of the ninth century AD. was one of these times. The Avars, the last invaders to enter the Basin in force, had ruled the whole of it for the unprecedented span of over two centuries, but their power, too, bad decayed with time, and at the opening of the century Charlemagne had destroyed it utterly. The German Empire had, however, limited its subsequent extension of its political frontiers to the old Pannonia and the areas flanking it north and south, and even there it had done no more than set up a series of dependencies, governed by Slavonic 'dukes', whose allegiance was often insecure. One of these vassal states, Croatia, had made itself fully independent in 869, and Sviatopluk, Duke of Moravia, which then included the: area between the Danube and the Gran, had been in open defiance of his overlord for as long.

The East Roman Empire, of which the Serbia of the day was a loose dependency, disputed Syrmia with the Western Empire, but did not look across the Danube-Drava line. Bulgaria may have exercised suzerainty over the Alföld, and perhaps Transylvania, but its rule over either area was at best shadowy. Thus a number of Powers claimed rule over parts of the Basin, but all of them were peripheral to it, their own centres far distant from it. The native populations ruled by these Powers were as various as they.

There were Moravian Slavs in the north-west, Slovenes in Pannonia; in the north, and along the banks of the Tisza, some more Slav settlements, and roaming the plains of the Alföld, a nomadic people of Eastern origin, perhaps akin to the Magyars themselves: the Szekels. The ethnic appurtenance of the then inhabitants of Transylvania is acrimoniously disputed between Roumanian and Hungarian historians, the former maintaining that a Roman, or alternatively, Romanised Dacian, population had survived the Dark Ages, the latter pointing to the fact that all the pre-Magyar place-names of Transylvania are Slav, except four river-names, which are not Latin; also that the first mention of 'Vlachs' in Hungarian documents comes in the thirteenth century, when they figure only as roving shepherds, and not numerous.

In any case, all these populations were sparse. The most densely populated area was probably the foothills and open valleys of the north-west. The upper valleys and mountains of the Carpathians were practically uninhabited. There were only one or two places larger than hamlets in Pannonia, or in the Alföld. Transylvania, too, whatever the ethnic appurtenance of such inhabitants as it possessed, consisted at that time mostly of unpenetrated forest.

Such was the situation in the Basin when the Magyars appeared on the further side of the Carpathian Gate.

To all appearance, the Magyars were just such another horde of Asiatic strangers as their predecessors - the Huns (with whom their victims, and later, their own national legend, mistakenly identified them), the Avars and the rest....

Macartney's is a lucid, careful work and I highly recommend it.

[Stained glass detail from "Lovely Maiden Julia," 1913,
by Hungarian artist, Sándor Nagy -- see below under Hungarian Fine Arts]
http://www.hungary.com/corvinus/
[Added 23 August 2001]: This is the fine on-line Corvinus Library of Hungarian History -- it offers free books, links, PDF files, and MS Word for Windows files on many aspects of Hungarian history.  It's a great place for exploring.
http://hungaria.org/projects/1848-49/48trans.html
[Added 23 August 2001]:This is a quick prose-snapshot of the muddled politics in Transylvania in 1848-49.
http://archaeology.about.com/science/archaeology/library/atlas/blhungary.htm
[Added 23 August 2001]: This is about.com's brief page of well chosen links to Current Archaeological Research and the Cultural History of Hungary.
http://www.hunmagyar.org/archeology/archeology.htm
[Added 27 August 2001]: From a Hungarian folkdance group based in Ottawa (Canada) comes this clickable map laden with 7000 years of artifacts.  The implication is that all these artifacts are "Hungarian."  The opening text says as much:
THE HUNGARIANS ARE THE INDIGENOUS INHABITANTS OF THE CARPATHIAN BASIN AND HAVE PRESERVED THEIR DISTINCTIVE CULTURAL IDENTITY DURING THOUSANDS OF YEARS....
To claim that late-arriving peoples are "indigenous" to the region is spurious history.  But the photos of the artifacts are nice, so I'm keeping the link <smile>.
http://lazarus.elte.hu/hun/hunkarta/tezis/plihale.htm
[Added 21 August 2001]: This is a brief, fascinating essay by Plihál Katalin: "Sources of Maps Introducing Hungary and Transylvania (1528-1709)."  Among his conclusions is this one, which suggests a long-standing confusion about mountainous Transylvania's precise boundaries:
...Mapmakers while collecting their data didn't ignore the work of their predecessors. I coudn't find a maps the data of which would be based on one source only. (Eg. In the atlases of Ortelius there are a lot of maps entitled "Transilvania" which were published between 1570 and 1612 and their contens are not exactly the same!)
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15022a.htm
[Added 23 August 2001]:From the Catholic Encyclopedia comes a page on the religious history of Transylvania (FYI: Catholics were the minority).  It begins in medieval times and moves forward.  It's dense with names and ecclesiastical positions and won't appeal to most.
http://historicaltextarchive.com/clean/index.html
[Added 27 August 2001]: This is an emotional essay from László Tõkés, a Catholic bishop in Transylvania: "What's Behind a Statement?"  His bottom line is that now that the Romanians have political control over Transylvania, "ethnic cleansing" is happening and Hungarians are being victimized. The population statistics are indeed sobering, as are the lack of employment prospects.


Magyar Settlement Period, 9th century
 From: http://www.hunmagyar.org/costumes/huncost4.htm
Copyright © by Gyula Laszlo

http://historicaltextarchive.com/links.php?op=viewslink&sid=43
[Added 27 August 2001]: From historian Don Mabry's excellent Historical Text Archive comes this section on Hungary.  This is page 1 of 2 pages of annotated links to a wide range of academic data on Hungary.
http://historicaltextarchive.com/hungary/transylvania.html
[Added 27 August 2001]: Again from Don Mabry's Historical Text Archive comes a page on Transylvanian history from a Hungarian point of view:
...Geographically, Transylvania lies in the Carpathian Basin. Its original and native inhabitants are the Hungarians. [Webmaster note: This, of course, is not true.The Magyars did not invade this part of Europe until the 9th century....]  During the centuries and after many wars, the Hungarian kings invited other ethnicities, such as the Saxons from Germany, to settle and fill the place of the decreased Hungarian population, and to replenish the land of Transylvania again. Other groups, such as the Rumanians, came in Transylvania later. Their first groups are mentioned in chronicles dated the 13th century, quoting them as poor shepherds wandering with their flocks from Wallachia across the Carpathian Mountains to seek asylum and refuge in Hungarian territory....
I like the webmaster's correction.  In a welter of claims and counterclaims, it is badly needed.  The rest of the page focuses on a possible ancestor-group of the Hungarians: the Székely people:
...But there is another ethnic group within the territory of Transylvania proper, about which, very few words are usually spoken; these are the SZÉKELYs. The Székely people live in their very nice Székely-land (Hung. Székelyföld) for more than a thousand years, longer than the Hungarians, Germans, Rumanians or anybody else in Transylvania....
It should be noted the connections between the Székely people and the Hungarians are ambiguous and not yet proven.  There is a passion in Central Europe to establish such connections in order to prove as ancient a continuity as possible.  The Hungarians do it, and so do the Romanians [see my Romanian page].  Each side believes that such ancient claims lend legal legitimacy to its position.  With no disrespect towards either side, what neither seems to understand is that perhaps this shouldn't be a matter of law, but of land -- a beautiful, ancient land that has nurtured both peoples, sharing abundance with both, and hardship with both.  Politics do not matter to the land -- only people do, and from the land's perspective, both Hungarians and Romanians have an equal right to co-exist and share in the bounty. Land, I think, looks at how her inhabitants respect her, work with her, care for her creatures, her water, mountains, and air.  She isn't much interested in the genetics, history, or linguistics of her inhabitants.

Perhaps what needs to happen, then, is for both peoples to set aside their own self-centered demands.  Then, perhaps, they can help one another with greater tolerance and grace.  They've done this in the past -- why shouldn't they do this in the present age?  Both groups are among the most creative and thoughtful in all of Europe -- surely, they can find a way.

Two Riders, one bright (female), one shadowed (male)
[Stained glass detail from 1907, by Sándor Nagy --
see below under Hungarian Fine Arts]
http://hungaria.org/articles/article.php?articleid=22
[Added 27 August 2001]: This is "The Daco-Roman Continuity Legend" by Árpád Kosztin.  Its argument against Romanian continuity from Rome's province of Dacia to the present is intricate and intelligent.  I'm just not sure how relevant it is.  Hungarians and Romanians have lived together over the centuries as friends, and as enemies.  What has living as enemies gained them?

They seem like mythic twins -- and the wisdom of both is needed to bring renewal.  There are legends of cooperating twins and legends of fratricidal twins.  One hopes it's time to shift the balance towards the helpful brothers.

So many modern wars began in Central and Eastern Europe and spread outwards, engulfing the whole world.  Perhaps that war-energy could be "phase-shifted" to an equally dynamic, numinous compassion-energy?  What a fine thing it would be if the hub of such a compassionate movement could come from the hub of so much bitter enmity from the past.  Are we so impoverished that we can only dream future cycles of violence and vengeance?  Creativity and boldness are needed. Then perhaps the future of that region could be changed in wondrous, humane ways.


HUNGARIAN MYTHOLOGY & LORE


Gyöngyvér (1909)
(Gyöngyvér was the wife of Buda, Attila's brother,  from the Hun-Magyar cycle of legends)
By Hungarian artist, Sándor Nagy (1869-1950)
Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest
[From Fine Arts in Hungary site -- see below]

http://www.hunmagyar.org/myth/myth.html

[Added 27 August 2001]:From a Hungarian folkdance group based in Ottawa, Canada comes this page on Hungarian myth -- navigation is a bit peculiar.  There is an opening statement (much of which I'm citing below) and then 4 clickable images that will take you to more.  It should be noted, by the way,  that the Hungarian-Hun connection is speculative and not widely accepted by scholars even though it's traditional in Hungarian folklore and art (see above):
...Hungarian mythology tells the story of the Hungarians (Huns and Magyars) from their origins to the foundation of the Hun Empire and of its successor state, Hungary.  This traditional account which goes back thousands of years has been preserved by the Hungarian people despite the centuries of persecution by a foreign forced christianization which sought to destroy all traces of the ancient Hungarian culture....
The first of the four brief sections looks at the "Mystical Stag" -- here a connection is made between the Hungarians and the Sumerians of Mesopotamia --- it should be noted that although there may have been some linguistic borrowings (this too is quite speculative), there is no solid evidence linking these two cultures.  The Stag theme is much more likely to have originated in Siberia, from where it filtered down to peoples of the steppes (see art historian Esther Jacobson's masterful The Deer Goodess of Ancient Siberia: A Study in the Ecology of Belief, E. J. Brill, 1993).

The remaining three "myths" are Hun-based -- again, no solid evidence links the Huns to the Hungarians.  Each of the four sections offers its own handful of images, some of which are quite interesting.  Despite the fact that none of these "myths" seem to be genuinely Hungarian, I am including them because of the artwork and also because this site is a good example of the misconceptions out there, even among Hungarians.  Such misconceptions, of course, can indeed be the "stuff" of myth and legend as long as this isn't confused with historical reality.

http://www.hunmagyar.org/myth/hunmyth.html
[Added 27 August 2001]: From the above Hungarian/Canadian folkdance group comes a page amplifying the above tales.  I looked at most of them and found intriguing elements in them.  However, despite their authoritative tone, they owe much to legend and very, very little to history.  Further, most of  the etymologies need to be taken with a grain of salt.  I love all stories -- they do show the patterns of psyche manifesting in the outer world.  But these are presented as "fact," and that crosses a line. [Note: the pull-down menu doesn't work, at least not on my browser.]
http://www.tccweb.org/eefolklore.htm#King Matthias
[Added 27 August 2001]: This is "King Matthias" an episode from Hungarian folklore by Lisa Miasto (scroll up or down for more Central/Eastern European, but non-Hungarian, tales).  Interestingly, this king, devoted to honesty and compassion, shares these positive attributes with those bestowed by the Romanians upon their Prince Vlad ("Count Dracula"), who was imprisoned in Hungary by Matthias [see my Romanian page].
...When Matthius died, the people were heard to chant in their mourning "Matthius is dead and so is all truth and honesty from now on."
When Vlad died too, it is said that Romanians mourned the loss of truth and honesty from the world.
http://magyar.org/folklor/archivum/
This is the wonderful archive from the Magyar Folklor site by Árpád Fábián Kovács.  Its categories (some are in Hungarian as well as English) include history, lore, dance, and music.  Some of my favorites are below, but all are worth a look, whether I've annotated them or not....
Note: here's the link to their Site Map, which covers a wide, fascinating range of topics: http://www.magyar.org/site-map.shtml

Hungarian Stag

http://magyar.org/folklor/archivum/folk-identity.shtml

[Added 21 August 2001]: This is "Folklore, the folk and national identity," notes taken from Hungarian-born folklorist Dr. Linda Degh's speech at the 22nd Annual Conference of the American Hungarian Educators' Association, April 17-19, 1997 at the University of Maryland University College, College Park, MD, USA.  Here are some excerpts from her speech:
... Folklore is not some sort of exoticism, or trivia although it often seems naïve, simple, obvious, fantastic and controversial, it is a part of being human, it is with us here, and now. It is not only beautiful stories, sweet melodies, witchcraft, palm reading and spectacular street festivals, it is also talking about encounters with UFOs, visions of Virgin Mary in the picture window, obscene jokes, and magic medicine that cures incurable diseases as communicated by word-of-mouth, the press, TV, radio, and the internet. They are all integral to modern Hungarian culture....

...Hungarian folktales are known as the world's most beautiful product of oral poetry, matching only the artistry of Irish and Russian story tellers, but their appeal was limited to archaic agricultural conditions and a self-contained lifestyle that could not survive in the industrialized world. Short witty anecdotes, horror stories, ghost stories replaced the all-night recital of magic tales in the mid-20th century....

...Folklorists were busy to show indicators of Asian ancestry, seeking parallels among preliterate Ural-Altaic language speaking cognates. Nevertheless, it may be closer to the truth that as Central European, Hungarian culture shared more with Slavic and Germanic neighbors and was more influenced by peoples found in the Carpathian basin in the 8th century, and its political, cultural allies in South and West Europe than with the far removed language kin. It is closest to the truth that János Csaplovics wrote in his 1829 survey "Sketches of Hungary" that "Hungary is Europe in miniature" stressing multiculturalism. As a matter of fact, Hungarian folklore in every aspect displays Centraleuropeanness, great ethnic diversity and continuity in exposure to historic events in Europe. Folk religion, worldview, balladry, calendar, and life cycle customs, narratives, musical styles bear the earmark of West Europe Christianity, prominently influenced by Roman Catholicism, the European Enlightenment and the popular vernacular literature, spread by chapbook and broadside selling itinerant market entertainers....

[Stained glass detail from 1913, by Sándor Nagy -- see below under Hungarian Fine Arts]

HUNGARIAN LINGUISTICS

Bird Song (1893)
Detail
By Hungarian artist, Károly Ferenczy  (1862-1917)
Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest
[From Fine Arts in Hungary]
http://www2.4dcomm.com/millenia/soundfu.htm
[Added 24 August 2001]: Earlier peoples lived closer to the sounds of birdsongs, insects, animals, flowing waters, and storms than we do.  Thus, they may seem "simpler" than we are.  Yet their language systems are immensely complex and rich.  This page, parts of which may appeal only to specialists, nevertheless demonstrates the enormous complexity of cross-cultural linguistics, in this case relating to Hungary, whose Finno-Ugric language family is different from the more common Indo-European languages of Europe.  This site, "Sound Changes in Uralic Languages & Sumerian examples," takes its Uralic material from György Lakó's, "Proto Finno-Ugric Sources of the Hungarian Phonetic Stock." Although the Hungarian-Sumerian connection (aside from possible borrowings) is highly speculative and not widely accepted, here are some passages worthy of note:
"Despite huge differences between Hungarian and many FinnUgor languages there is no denying that there is a relationship, because many of the changes and differences can be systematically explained by the above sound changes and historic events." /György Lakó

"Most cases of declensions in Hungarian have totally different ones in Finnish. In Hungarian there are "definite" conjugations that are missing in Finnish. A considerable part of Hungarian vocabulary is also missing in Finnish."/ György Lakó.

Usually the most primitive and archaic words however are the ones were commonality can be found.  So the separation in time must be considerable. The estimated time for which Hungarian evolved independently from other F.U. languages is placed at about 4,000 years ago. Even common plant and animal names are few between F.U. and Hungarian, most are common instead with the Altaic languages or other southern languages....

...This statement about what can or cannot be in the original Hungarian of course cannot be proven definitely and is based on a presumed genetic origin of Hungarians from the Finn-Ugor language group, which is not supported by anthropology or physical evidence. Only reinvented history derived from selective linguistic presumptions. In fact there are many contradictions in this field. This does not lessen the importance of the linguistic relationship at all, which clearly does exists between them. Finnish like Hungarian both could have changed in time due to their new neighboors and their interactions with them, genetically and linguistically. The FinnUgor language group is a gold mine of references to the more archaic and original pronunciation of many basic words. This does not change the fact that it is not possible to be certain about Hungarian genetic origins, since the earliest Hungarian anthropological characteristics resembled the so called Scythian / Sarmatian remains almost exactly, instead of the Baltic racial characteristics of their northern language relatives. This fact also matches with their cultural, traditional, early historical remains and cannot be ignored because of a linguistic bias. Hungarian has just as many Altaic words as it does FinnUgor and this also indicates their special pivotal position with links to both groups as well as the southern links.

The assosciation with the equestrian Scythians and the Huns and Turks are also found in the language remains, from the most ancient and basic levels. The Altaic languages in the early derived forms were in fact were much more like FinnUgor originally then they are now. Naturally I believe that the other F.U. languages also had some contacts with them, but they were much more isolated from their influence, since the early Hungarians were the most southern of this group in location.  Based on historic references their most southern range was most likely as far south as Iran and the southern Caucasus Mtns. Certain branches as far east as the Aral Sea....

http://www.egroups.com/group/aturan-languages/
[Added 24 August 2001]:For those interested in exploring further, this looks like a fascinating, albeit specialized (and at times, daunting) list.  Its focus is on "Comparative historical linguistic studies of Altaic - Dravidian -Sumerian -Uralic languages and their evolution."

HUNGARIAN FOLK DANCE & MUSIC

Transylvanian Legény  (Men's Dance)
Photo © Stephen Spinder and used with his gracious permission:
link updated 3 Augst 2005.

http://hungaria.org/lists/folklor/archivum/introdance.shtml

[Added 21 August 2001]: This page is a very brief introduction to the world of Hungarian folkdance:
Dr. George Martin, one of the most prominent folklore scientists, has divided the Hungarian folk dances into two major categories: the old layer of dances dating back to the Middle Ages, and the relatively new layer, which developed in the 18th and 19th centuries.  In the old layer the weapon dances and dances closely related to them, the ax and stick dances, are still danced today by shepherds and gypsies....
http://hungaria.org/lists/folklor/archivum/hungarianfolkdance.shtml
[Added 21 August 2001]: This is a useful list of Hungarian folkdance types, arranged by style and region.  Here, for example, is the entry for Transylvania:
...Politically this area constitutes the Western part of Romania at this time, but we can find the most versatile and beautiful, often archaic folkdances which were preserved here due to the political and geographical isolation from western influences. All forms of dances may be found here, but they are specific to small geographic areas or even specific villages. The uneven development of music and folkdance is most interesting and exciting in this region, research is still uncovering new findings....
http://hungaria.org/lists/folklor/archivum/nepitanc.shtml
[Added 21 August 2001]: This excellent page offers is a much more detailed essay on Hungarian folkdance (Népi Tánc) and folk music taken from "Hungarian Civilization: A Short History with Bibliography" by Michael J. Horvath, LL.D., M.S.L.S., University of Maryland, College Park.  Here are two passages that caught my eye because they relate so well to Stephen Spinder's wonderful photo of male dancers (above):
...While women lived a rather secluded life and [danced] only within their family, the men had more opportunity for entertainment. In certain occupations it was also the custom to display strength and skill by dancing, and therefore the movements and expressions of the male dances are extremely rich....

...Another group of male dances comprises the pastoral (Herdsmen) dances. Nomadic stock raising was significant in Hungary up to the mid-19th century. Living outdoors winter and summer alike. Magyar pásztorok (herdsmen) had to rely on their own sill and strength to defend their herds against wolves and thieves. They acquired amazing skill in handling various tools, such as sticks, axes, and ropes. This skill was also demonstrated in their dances. The swift twirling of sticks or axes, the swishing and slashing movements with long whips, quick jumps, turns, and attacking and defending steps, as well as humorous playful elements, are characteristics of these dances....

http://hungaria.org/lists/folklor/archivum/tanchazmovement.shtml
[Added 21 August 2001]: This little page is "A Brief History of the Hungarian TÁNCHÁZ Movement":
In the early 1970s, several Hungarian folk musicians came upon a TÁNCHÁZ, or dance house, in the village of Szek. Although located now in Romania (and named Sic), the village is ethnically Hungarian, and the discovery of the Hungarian TÁNCHÁZ in Szek sparked the TÁNCHÁZ Movement, a resurgence of village-style dance and music, popular today in many part of the world....
What delights me about this page is that such hidden pockets of ancient dance practice and lore still exist, and still have an immense ability to move us.

Orpheus (1894)
Detail
By Hungarian artist, Károly Ferenczy  (1862-1917)
Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest
[From Fine Arts in Hungary site]

http://news.xenomusic.com/culture/culture_20010101.html

[Added 6 September 2001]:From the Xeno Music archives comes a surprisingly fascinating two-page series, "Culture Stories: Nationalism and the exploration of Hungarian folklore" (I use the word "surprisingly" because heavily commercial sites are rarely this literate and well informed).  From Part I, which looks at pre-19th century folk music and dance, here's an excerpt:
...Though it is easy and often tempting to shun new “pollutants” from other ethnic groups for fear of losing a fixed cultural characteristic or art form, upon closer inspection there can hardly be a “fixed” folklore at all if a culture is still ethnically alive and active. Folk culture has always been in a state of endless transition, giving and taking, and if it ceases to be so, will stagnate and become more of a rigid museum piece than a functioning culture.
      Hungarian folk music over the centuries has gone through many metamorphoses and diverse layers have built up.... [T]here are customary tunes which were added to folk song repertoires upon the Magyars" reaching the Carpathian Basin and coming into contact with Slavic and Balkan peoples. The songs are related to specific calendar holidays from both ancient European pagan influences and Slavonic and Baltic traditions; occasions such as winter and summer solstices, special fertility days, and so on, are celebrated with songs specific to the event. Another old folk song form is the “regölés”, a greeting song that originally stems back to shamanism, in which certain magic words are repeated while visiting others" homes. After the reign of King István (the king who converted Hungarians to Christianity and was later made a saint for his deeds) though, Christian motifs were introduced to this ancient form, which show the conversion from Paganism....
Part Two (click on the interal link at the bottom of Part I) looks at the wild crazes of the 19th century, followed by a much more focused and serious approach to genuine folklore after Trianon in 1920 (this is the only page I've found that details positive benefits from the breakup of Hungary).  Here is the eloquent and humane conclusion (it will gain in richness and depth if you then read what leads up to this in Part II):
...The revival and exploration into folk culture that nationalism brought about was not all in vain. First of all, a new science was established, which produced lasting results; and second, the science of ethnomusicology found not just the history of art itself, but also a message. A message that shows us that rabid nationalism makes people blind to the common traits they share with other ethnicities, blind to the giving and taking processes that formerly took place between them, blind even to their own history; and that if they wish to achieve greater knowledge of the world and of themselves, they cannot continue to shut their eyes and minds. Though in the modern world there are many threats to fear from others, many threats from within, and many differences between people that contribute toward this type of nationalism, there may also be just as many hidden treasures to be found in transcending these ethnically divided struggles in an attempt to communicate and learn.
http://www.speelman.nl/tanchaz/introduction.htm
[Added 24 August 2001]: This is "Introduction to traditional hungarian music" by Crispijn Oomes, a leisurely page, sometimes pleasantly chatty, sometimes much more specialized and technical.  Here's how a musicologist views the situation in Transylvania:
...Finally, it may often be hard to distinguish Hungarian from Romanian folk music, especially in Transylvania, the part of Romania that used to belong to Hungary before World War I. The songs and dances of Transylvanian villages may be classified anywhere along a Romanian-Hungarian continuum, depending on whether the Romanians and Hungarians were getting along, and which group constituted the majority....
Here is his sensible manner of contrasting Hungarian and Romanian rhythms:
...The next layer is that of strong dance accents, which are very typical of Hungarian music. While Romanians dance in sandals, Hungarian shepherds and farmers -- and even women -- wear boots. The stamping of these boots is echoed in the rhythms played by kontra (viola) and bass, which have become indispensible for dance bands....
I didn't understand everything but still found the essay quite interesting.
http://www.magyar.org/folklor/midi/
From Robert Szlizs comes this page rich in folk music samples.  Enjoy! -- the music is really wonderful -- and the names reflect the dances that were done to this music.
http://www.magyar.org/ahfc/neti/kelemen-article.shtml
This is "Hungarian Music, Gypsy Music, Folk Music," an article by László Kelemen (translated by Peter Laki):
...In the West but also often, alas, in Hungary, the average person means by Hungarian instrumental folk music the art music played by Gypsies that you can hear in restaurants. This is referred to purely and simply as "Gypsy music" even by us Hungarians, although it is not that. It has only been played by Gypsies for the last two hundred years.  In addition, there exists a type of traditional instrumental folk music in the villages that is also played by Gypsies but is not Gypsy music but rather Hungarian, Romanian, Saxon, Jewish, and other folk-dance music, handed down from generation to generation by Gypsies in their function as professional musicians.  Finally, the Gypsies have their own folk music, a jealously guarded treasure that they use solely for their own entertainment....
http://hungaria.org/lists/folklor/archivum/whoseheritage.shtml: [Link updated 8/21/01]
This is "Hungarian Gypsy Music: Whose Heritage?" -- the essay looks at the incredibly complex cross-pollination between Hungarian folk music and Gypsy (Roma) music. The author takes issue with the common practice of designating all Hungarian folk music as Gypsy music simply because Gypsies play it.  If they play Bach, he asks, does that make Bach's music Gypsy music?  The essay is long, I only had time to scan it, and I'm not a musicologist; therefore, I can't say how balanced the author's views are. My own suspicion is that the issue is probably too fraught with problems to ever be solved.

HUNGARIAN FOLK ARTS


[See directly below]

  http://magyar.org/ahfc/museum/embroidery.shtml

[Added 22 August 2001]: As a child growing up in Western Michigan during the 1940's, my only knowledge of Hungary came from one magical source: a gorgeously embroidered Hungarian blouse that my mother sometimes let me touch.  I had never seen anything so beautiful.  Nearly twenty years later she gave me this blouse, its bright flowered embroidery as fresh as the day it was created, but its sheer batiste yellowed by age.  I gently turned it white again by hanging it in the bright Vietnamese sun of Hue, where my father and I lived for a time in 1962.  It remains a dear treasure to this day.

Thus, it isn't surprising that I really respond to this webpage -- "Hungarian Embroidery" by Emese Kerkay -- it's lovely, informative and offers striking images (see above) -- none so beautiful as my blouse, however <smile>.

...The love for embroidery of the Hungarian people goes far back in history. In Arabian and other foreign chronicles - from times before the Magyars came to the Carpathian Basin - it has been written, that the Hungarians liked to dress in richly decorated and embroidered clothing and their surroundings were pompous. In Hungary there have been weaving and embroidery schools as early as the eleventh century. Embroidery has always been an important part in the upbringing of every girl, whether she lived in the royal palace, or a peasant hut.

1,100 years ago - when the last wave of Hungarians entered the Carpathian Basin - there were no great differences in social standards, therefore, the embroideries of all classes must have been similar to their designs in metal and stone, which are still witnesses of a brilliant, highly developed artistic style of long ago....

...The peasants...continued to embroider the way their ancestors did for many centuries. Often the motifs of folk art can be traced back to ancient mythology.  Therefore, it is deep rooted in the soul of the people and any kind of change is hardly noticeable....

  http://www.marykellystudio.homestead.com/writing.html
[Added 22 August 2001]: Although not focused on Hungary alone, a major scholarly work on Eastern European embroidery comes from Mary B. Kelly.  This page will take you to a series of books she has written, each one based on her extensive research in Central and Eastern Europe.  As one reviewer notes:
"Embroidery is thought to be even more ancient than literature and a perfect medium for preserving visual motifs. The act of embroidery as well as the ritual cloths developed were an active part of Eastern European goddess worship....GODDESS EMBROIDERIES offers wonderful source material, exciting information and a great tale of research and discovery." Feminist Bookstore News, 1991.
http://www.marykellystudio.homestead.com/painting.html
[Added 22 August 2001]: Based on her research, artist/professor Mary B. Kelly created a vibrant painting of Hungary's "Black Goddess," the Harvest Goddess, Dordona.  She is shown among other goddess images on this page:
...Like her counterpart in Russia, her arms are raised. She is crowned by both the sun and the moon.
(Note: the larger version of Dordona, with text, is no longer available on this site, but you might e-mail Dr. Kelly if you wish to see it.   On her Home Page, there's a large version of Dordona, by the way, but no text.)


Knotted Lace
(see directly below)

http://www.magyar.org/ahfc/museum/csipke.shtml
[Added 22 August 2001]: This is a companion folk art: "Hungarian Lace," again by Emese Kerkay.  The well-illustrated page looks at many kinds of lace, including the oldest (see above):
...Knotted lace is considered to be the oldest type of lace. Knotted lace and knotted fringe [were] used in ancient cultures and the Bible mentions it too. It is as old as weaving itself, because the edges of the material, cut off the loom, had to be secured. When the hanging threads are knotted in a certain way, it becomes a decoration, and this is already a knotted lace. The knotted fringe decoration is of high standard and widely used in Hungary....


Traditional Dress among Young and Old Women in Transylvania
[Note: the black garb indicates cronehood, not mourning.]
Photo © Stephen Spinder and used with his gracious permission:
link updated 3 August 2005.

http://www.magyar.org/ahfc/museum/viselet-en1.shtml
[Added 22 August 2001]: This is the first of six linked pages on the "Origin and History of the Hungarian Dress" by Emese Kerkay.  They are well illustrated and quite intriguing.  Here is an excerpt from page 2:
...The women in Hungary are called fehérnép (white people) because they dressed in white linens.  Even today there are regions where the folk costumes are completely white: Ormánság, Csököly, Barcaság, Torockó. In some regions they dress in white for weddings, in others for funerals. They carried bathtubs even to camp to keep themselves and all their white clothing clean. This was mentioned by Byzantine and German chroniclers as a peculiarity.

         When Christianity was introduced in Hungary, ancient religion and customs were forbidden and persecuted. Therefore, for some time the beautiful and rich clothing brought from the East, was abandoned by the nobility, but never by the peasants. After a while the upper classes returned to wearing the traditional attire which was still very close to their heart and soul....

http://www.hunmagyar.org/costumes/folkmap.htm
[Added 27 August 2001]:From a Hungarian folkdance group based in Ottawa (Canada) comes this clickable map that will take you to photos of regional folk costumes -- each "click" will result in a half dozen or more photos: some are quite good.  At the bottom of the above portal-page are also a handful of images of ancient costumes, some researched and painted by Gyula Laszlo.

A Bride in her Párta
(From a now-defunct site)

http://hungaria.org/lists/folklor/archivum/partaorigins.shtml

[Added 22 August 2001]:This is "Párta - Origins and History" by Evelyn Domján.  It looks at the elaborate, beribboned headdresses worn by young women in Hungary for weddings and other festive occasions.  Nothing in folk art is far from the mythic, or the ritualistic, as this passage indicates:
...The use of mirrors and tinsel in Hungarian folk art is more than a child-like reach for shiny things. It relates to an Asian origin, to the mirror embroideries made in India. Even more mystic ancient Asian roots lead to the ritual robe of the shaman, the priest-healer-reader of cosmic messages, who advised the nomadic hunter-warriors. The shaman's gown had shiny metal disks sewn onto it to reflect the light of the sun, the moon or sacrificial fire....

...Every Párta is the result of thousands of hours of work and the best costly materials. On the Párta, we find piled up, crammed lace, embroidery, ribbons, trimmings, beads, artificial flowers, tinsel, mirrors, wire, gold and silver thread in the most astonishing combinations. These materials are not used in a haphazard way either, for each folklore area has its own style and each Párta has been according to strict rules....

http://hungaria.org/lists/folklor/archivum/partaconfession.shtml
[Added 22 August 2001]:This is "Párta Making - A Confession," a lovely, evocative, nostalgic essay by artist Evelyn Domján about a bygone age that she continues to bring alive through her art.  She discusses the intricacies of making a Párta -- also the old fertility-focused traditions associated with it:
...The gold Párta was worn by the bride for the last time on her wedding day. Next day she wore a tight black lace bonnet and above this a silk embroidered netted veil. Small copper disks were sewn on her garment in closely fitting rows between the embroidery. She wore this for about a year until her first baby arrived. At that time, bonnet and copper-embroidered gown joined the golden coronet in her chest, waiting for her daughter or younger sister to wear them. She covered her head with a kerchief....
http://hungaria.org/lists/folklor/archivum/partasecret.shtml
[Added 22 August 2001]:This is yet another essay on the Párta: "A Peasant Artisan Reveals Her Secret," again by Evelyn Domján.  The essay is filled with vivid details of making headdresses from a variety of materials, old and new.  When I read this, the enormous care that goes into making the Párta suggests to me that what we are dealing with here are ancient myths of world-making -- the flowers, jewels, sparklings, symmetry are all telltale signs of such myths.  Thus, this is the creation of a world-axis focused upon the nubile body of a young woman who is crowned with all the wondrous, fertile, illusory arts of life herself.  To the casual eye, these headdresses are folk-costumes, lovely in their own right but too "pretty" to be "profound."  But look more closely: like many demeaned women's arts, this is indeed true world-making, and as profoundly meaningful as anything in the more acceptable canon.
http://hungaria.org/lists/folklor/archivum/partastory.shtml
[Added 22 August 2001]:Finally, this is "Párta in the Play of Live & Death" by Evelyn Domján.  This moving essay focuses on funerals and the role of the Párta, which in this context is a symbol of the Self, of beingness, of deep spiritual essence:
...It is the funeral of a young girl. The yard is full of flowers: her wedding with death. Even the gypsies are here to play whining tunes that can hardly rise above the lamenting, waiting and bursts of sobbing. Her girlfriends stand around the open coffin in a flood of tears. They are in their Sunday best, in beaded Párta-s, one black ribbon hanging over the rose-ribbons and black boots instead of red. The coffin is placed high, a bit tilted so all can see her in her magnificent festive garments, her head resting on embroidered pillows, and embroidered kerchief in her clasped hands over her bible, gold ring and earrings, rows of coral beads around her neck. Her beautiful new Párta is placed on her head, braided hair, rose ribbons arranged on both sides and flowers on the embroidered funerary sheet. The soul-bells are ringing, bumble bees are humming. She had not been sick, but is a victim of love....
This might as well be the burial of a Persephone, a maenad, a holy maiden, a dying and returning deity, surrounded by the ancient voices of nature.  Nor is this theme restricted to the young.  The old are as lovingly bound to the sacred world-axis as are the young.  As Domján writes of one elderly woman who truly understood the liminal nature of hand-crafted, alchemical folk art:
...garments that had once belonged to her mother and father, and had been kept by her in memory of the, were placed in the bottom of the casket and were also buried with her. As if this handwork would still radiate and light up her path in the after-life.

     At the turn of the century, a collector was going to buy an embroidered bonnet from a poor old widow in Transdanubia. He offered her a generous sum of money and put it on the table in from of her. The old woman's remaining years would have been made so much easier had she accepted it. But she pushed the money away, she was holding her bonnet and said, "My dear mother in the other-world would not recognize me without my bonnet." According to her wishes, she was buried in it....


Grave-Posts
(see directly below)

http://www.magyar.org/ahfc/museum/fejfak.shtml

[Added 23 August 2001]: This is an intriguing, illustrated essay, "Hungarian Wooden Grave-Posts," by Jakab Ferenc.  Here again we find echoes of the world-axis: in this case, a tree, or carved post, surrounded by flowers in the midst of a cemetary.  The custom is uniquely Hungarian and dates back to ancient ancestor homage:
In some Transylvanian Székely villages, there are still cemetery sections, where wooden grave-posts can be found, reminding us of the traditional Hungarian burial gardens. These are not cemeteries, but cheerful flower gardens, decorated with beautifully carved poles. They are the mirror image of the living community, preserving the traditional and democratic order of the Székely-Hungarian villages....

Egg design: Swastika with Cock's Comb
(see directly below)

http://www.magyar.org/ahfc/museum/husvet/decoreggs.shtml

[Added 23 August 2001]: From death to resurrection leads us, at last, to the egg, symbol of renewed life.  This page is "Hungarian Decorated Easter Eggs" by Emese Kerkay:
...The cult of the decorated egg is one of the most ancient religious customs of humanity, and goes back thousands of years. The egg plays a significant role in the story of creation for many people. It represents the secret of eternal life condensed in a small enclosed and perfect geometrical form. Inside of the protective white mass is the mysterious gold, the Secret of secrets, the sprout. Doesn't the gold inside the egg represent a drop of the creative power of the sun, which stands above all?
       The egg is the ancient symbol of spring in the religion of numerous people. As the carrier of life it represents the past and the future. The egg is not only the symbol of creation but also of life, rebirth, resurrection, and above all fertility....
This illustrated page is rich with symbols and their meanings.  For example, on the swastika:
...Life started when the opposite sides began the eternal movement, symbolized by the swastika or sun wheel. Every arm of the swastika, ancient symbol of the sun, represents a base element: water, earth, air, fire. Without these there is no life. In some Hungarian regions egg-decorators also call the spinning swastika type symbol, with four tendrils, a crab tail. The peek and turning of the sun's orbit is in the astronomical sign of the cancer. This is expressed in the revolving, eddying symbol. This ancient sign from pre-christian times is used on Hungarian eggs in every part of the country, under different names and in countless versions. It is often intertwined with other symbols, but the ancient meaning remains....
Note: For more on decorated eggs, including additional designs with their symbolic meanings, see this site's "Easter in Hungary" page at: http://www.magyar.org/ahfc/museum/husvet/

HUNGARIAN FINE ARTS


Stained Glass (1913)
By Hungarian artist, Sándor Nagy (1869-1950)
Cultural Palace, Marosvásárhely
[From Fine Arts in Hungary site -- see directly below]

http://hungart.euroweb.hu/index_en.html
[Added 24 August 2001]:This is "Fine Arts in Hungary," a handsome site representing centuries of Hungarian art.  You can search by artist's name, a work's title, or by theme.  I searched for "Mythology" and found some lovely pieces by Károly Ferenczy and Sándor Nagy, which are scattered about on this page.  The site's home page explains:
...In spite of the abundance of invaluable artworks, Hungarian fine arts are somewhat underrated outside the country. It is, therefore, our objective to present a full range of painting and sculpture in Hungary to a world-wide general public by introducing artists and their most important artworks....
They fulfill their purpose very well.  There's much here to explore and enjoy.

GENERAL INFORMATION


Bran Castel

http://geography.about.com/science/geography/library/cia/blchungary.htm
[Added 23 August 2001]:This is about.com's information overview-page on Hungary.  It briefly covers modern history, geography, statistics on the people, government, economy, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues (e.g., major connections to illicit drug smuggling).
http://geography.about.com/science/geography/library/maps/blhungary.htm?iam=mt
[Added 23 August 2001]:This is about.com's companion page to the above -- it offers briefly annotated links to maps, geography, and additional "general information."
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Designed & published 24 May 2000
Updates:
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19-28 August 2001 (checked all links, added new maps, links, images);
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