In search of stonmasons
In Serbia, we face a major challenge: finding fellow stonemasons. During our search, we met many fascinating people, crossing paths with marble masons, quarrymen and even wine-growers. So here's the story of our search for a trade in Serbia...
On 29 March, we crossed the border into Serbia. In our heads, Goran Bregovic tunes rang out, carried away by a feeling of freedom and challenge. Serbia was the only country on our itinerary where we had no prior information or references. We arrived with only a happy message from Andelka, an architect and professor at the Belgrade School of Architecture, inviting us to meet. So we headed for the capital, stopping off in Sombor and then Novi Sad, the biggest towns on our route. There we discovered the warmth of Serbian culture, a life punctuated by music and good humour, outstretched hands and spontaneity. It was the perfect environment in which to carry out our search for stonemasons. So, whenever we could, we asked: "Do you know any Kamenorsac?
In towns, yes, we find them. But we quickly understand that the term defines the profession of marble mason and not that of stonemason. It's around cemeteries that we find a concentration of activity. Here, one sign follows another. Stocks of plaques are lined up outside. A few craft workshops have everything they need to work, tombstones on display and a small room among the stones. Marble work is a profession in its own right, a speciality among the many stone trades. But in our case, it is the gateway to understanding the stonemasonry business in Serbia. So we knocked on the doors of Kamenoresac.
"Dober dan, do you speak English or German? The discussion begins and we try to ask if they are also stonemasons, if they work on buildings or restore monuments. The answer is always no. But we believe it. On the road, even though the influence of Austro-Hungarian buildings is predominant (brick structure and very thick plaster), we come across a few churches and beautiful stone buildings. Gate pillars, window frames, a few staircases... But where are the stonemasons?
Our luck changed when we heard about the Belgrade Stonemasonry Fair. This became the best way for us to discover the Serbian activity. So we went along with Andleka, who introduced us to the show's organiser. He's a former geologist, with a passion for monuments, and is behind the sculpture courses... The only trace of training we've found in the whole country.
Start of investigation
Kesta, the forgotten stonemasons
So where are the stonemasons today? Bojan tells us that there might still be an old-timer in a village who knows something about stonemasonry. He also tells us that the Serbian word for stonemason is Kesta.
In the small village of Rogljevo, the old Bulgarian border watchtowers can be seen in the distance. We're barely 20 kilometres from Bulgaria. There's a wine cellar, one of the only ones in the village still in operation, run by two Frenchmen. This is where we're finally going to work in Serbia. A few days, just enough time to sharpen a little bow, then cross the border and find new colleagues...
View of the cabin housing the debiteuse
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Caption (from left to right):
Site visit to Estelle and Cyril, winegrowers in Rogljevo.
Visit and details of the village of Rajacke. A former wine-making village in the same region as Rogljevo.
Signs and view of "kamenorezac" workshops. Marble masons, often specialising in funerary work
Mais où sont les tailleurs de pierre ?
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La Route de la Pierre newspaper
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