Under the Protection of St. Joseph

23. 9. 2020
The story of carpentry in the Czech lands.

It is no coincidence that the newly opened exhibition, dedicated to the history of carpentry in the Czech lands, was named “Under the Protection of St. Joseph”.  Among Czech people, it is a generally accepted fact that St. Joseph was a carpenter by profession. For this reason, he also became the patron saint of carpenters, and is often depicted with the tools of this trade.

The exhibition, in Panská sýpka (Great granary) within the Wooden Town of the Wallachian Open-Air Museum in Rožnov pod Radhoštěm, tells the story of the carpenter’s trade from several points of view. It briefly discusses the training of carpenters and their craftsmen’s guild. It presents examples of carpenter‘s tools, such as various types of axes, planes or saws, as well as the necessary measuring tools: plumb levels, squares, scribes, etc., as well as a carpenter’s brace and  ochre to create a line on a tree trunk, according to which the carpenter would then cut it.

Among the most important and still admired works of the carpenter are roof constructions. The exhibition shows models of cross ties of our oldest roof structures from 1319, above the presbytery of the church of the Franciscan monastery in Cheb, the largest late Gothic roof, from 1536, above the three-naved church of St. James the Greater in Jihlava, and finally a model of part of the roof, built in 1484, above the presbytery of the church of the Holy Spirit in Hradec Králové.

The work of the carpenter is then illustrated by a diorama of the carpenter’s yard mentioned in the accompanying text on the opposite panel, which also summarizes basic information about wood as a building material. The use of various types of wood on construction sites is presented in the “xylophone” exhibit.

The exhibition “Under the protection of St. Joseph” is pioneering in some respects. Probably for the first time, anyone interested in traditional carpentry can find a clearly presented example of the marks made by specific cutting tools (so-called trace evidence). It is the marks left by traditional craftsmanship that determine the character and uniqueness of historic structures. Nowadays, however, when monuments are repaired by modern methods, these traces often disappear.

The exhibition was created in cooperation with the Faculty of Forestry and Wood Technology at Mendel University in Brno, the Department of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, and the National Open-Air Museum, with the support of the project “Historical wooden structures: typology, diagnostics and traditional woodworking” financed under the National and Cultural Identity Programme of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic.

The exhibition in Panská sýpka will run for 2 years and represents a significant output of the five-year project, along with scientific publications. The exhibition also concludes many years of research cooperation between institutions following critical analysis of procedures, from selection of wood to manual techniques used in the carpenters craft, proposals for maintenance, repair and restoration of historical wooden buildings.


Contact person: Ing. Jan Tippner, Ph.D., Department of Wood Science and Wood Technology, FFWT MENDELU; +420 545 134 544; email: jan.tippner@mendelu.cz



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