Nicolae and Maria Pipaş need no introduction in the art loving circles. The initiated traveling to Sighetu Marmaţiei spares no effort to visit the Pipaş Museum, truly a collection of several museums, an impressive repository of old traditional art of Maramureş, of works by prominent Romanian painters and engravers, of carpets, ceramics, furniture, lace and more.
However, the Pipaș spouses are not only lovers and collectors of art, but creators as well. Perhaps the greatest achievement of the Pipaş family is their carpet collection. Maria Pipaş learnt weaving in secondary school, when she was just 11 years old. Almost thirty years later, she returned to her first passion and, together with her husband, started researching vegetal colors and weaving her first carpets. Her and her husband’s methodical, almost academic, approach to revive the traditional carpet of Maramureş soon attracted the recognition of some of the most accomplished Romanian artists of the era such as Marcel Chirnoagă, Corneliu Baba and Nicolae Grigorescu. Many of the invaluable paintings and engravings in Pipaş‘ collection were procured literally through the barter of her carpets for works by foremost Romanian artists; as Mrs Pipaş says, in those times, given their meager teacher salaries, barter was the only way of allaying their hunger for art.
I spent long hours with Mrs Pipaş discussing her work, her technique, her and especially her husband’s Sisif-like struggle to rediscover on their own the secrets of the vegetal colours, which had almost disappeared from the knowledge of the villagers. They spent years trying combinations of various plants until they eventually discovered the suave colours characteristic of Mrs Pipaş’ carpets (“a colour per year”, she said of the arduous process).
Beside carpets, Mrs. Pipaş weaves traditional towels; Mr. Pipaş is the one making the side embroideries, both for carpets and towels.
Mrs. Piapaş recovered and stylized traditional motifs from old Maramureş carpets. The knowledgeable can recognise the hammers, the wheel with saw teeth, the horse head, the flower, the butterfly, the serpent, the hunter among the many motifs on her carpets.
For more photos of Maria Pipaș and her work, visit The Artists section of the website.