Vadastra pottery

Archaeological researches have found in the south-eastern part of Olt county a millennial culture, with settlements from all eras, from the Paleolithic to the present: Vădastra. Due to the favorable conditions offered by this area, it has been inhabited continuously for over 6000 years. Legend says that Vădastra would have been the place where man has split from the clay and learned the alphabet of signs, giving meaning to the things around him.

Among the discoveries of the archaeologists who researched the area, the most impressive were the ceramic vessels, specially decorated in a unique style, with decorations in the form of spirals, triangles, rhombuses or zigzags.  At present, there are skilled craftsmen who keep in their pottery workshops the tradition of burnt clay pots from Vădastra and keep alive the myths and stories of the area. Such a legend is preserved in the monography of Vădastra commune:

It is said that in ancient times these lands were most of them subject to Ottoman raids. It was not only a single time when the Turks came through Wallachia and not to return with the charts loaded with food, grain, cattle, bags of money and gold. In addition to the tribute that the High Gate demanded, it also wanted to be sent to it boys of early age, to grow to thicken the lines of the Sultan’s army. So it is that, passing the caravan of Turks through Vădastra in a year, they found at the edge of the village a boy of only a few years, who played with a clay amulet that he had around his neck. They horsemen seized the little boy and fled the town.

The boy was called Stoica and was the son of Țigănilă, the best pottery master in the village. His parents and villagers have long sought him, but it was in vain; Stoica seemed to have been swallowed by the earth.

The years passed and Țigănilă’s wife had not stopped to miss her boy. On a feast day, when the whole village had gathered at the dance at the high crossroads of the village, she stood aside and watched. Suddenly, two men dressed in expensive Turkish straps appeared on the road, riding two beautiful horses. They stopped at the gate of a villager, looking for a resting place, because the next day they would start again on the road. After the horses were untied and they were refreshed, they also went to the crossroads, where the women from the village had gathered, with some bags of gold jewelry, because the two were merchants. Mustafa, the older man, told them that the next day he would go to Obârşia to look for clients, while Ali, the younger Turk, would take the road to Brastavățu.

Seeing Țigănilă’s wife how the peasant women had gathered to see the gold ornaments of the Turks, she also approached the two strangers. As she got closer and looked at Ali better, she thought his face seemed familiar, but she thought her fair mind was playing. Where to meet a simple woman from Vădastra, a Turkish gentleman, a jewelry merchant?

Shortly after, Mustafa and Ali were honoured by the people in the village with a glass of brandy (ţuică), and they also looked at the village round dance. With his eyes on the dancers, Ali kept on putting his hand to his chest, touching without noticing something under the collar of his shirt. Țigănilă’s wife saw him, but he thought that he had a more precious jewel, which he was still afraid of losing it or being stolen from him. When, all of a sudden, a button on Ali’s shirt came loose and our peasant woman saw the clay amulet that her Stoica wore around his neck on the day he disappeared from the face of the earth. With tears in his eyes, he waited until Mustafa got up and she went straight to Ali, who she embraced with all hes motherly love.

It took Ali a moment, after he looked her in the eyes, to understand what had happened. He told her that the places and the village seemed to him familiar, but he didn’t know how to explain that. He asked her not to face him with Mustafa and to think about what to do. Together they discussed with each other and came up with a plan!

The next day, as it was their understanding, Mustafa and Ali shared the jewels in two and they left one for Obârșia and one for Brastavățu to sell their goods, meeting in Vădastra after 3 days. As Ali started for Brastavăț, three strong men among the relatives to whom the mother had shared their secret came out of a tree and took him with them to a fishing cottage near Corabia. Ali’s horse was drowned in the Danube, so that no one would ever find him again. In that cottage they stayed for 10 days, eating dishes that Țigănilă’s wife brought secretly.

After the 3 days since they were separated, Mustafa returned to Vădastra. The merchant had done well in Obârşia, finishing all the jewelry he had for sale, and now he wanted to take Ali and return to their homes, south of the Danube. But take Ali if you can. He waited for him one day, he waited for two, and a week later the villagers convinced him that Ali had been attacked by the robbers on the Brastavăț road to steal his jewels and would have killed him. Deeply ditressed, Mustafa went alone to the Ottoman Empire.

After that, Ali became again Stoica of Țigănilă, resuming his place in his family. Over a few years, Mustafa returned to the village and saw his former apprentice, who turned his back, pretending he didn’t see him. The Turk shouted after him to stay quiet, that he did not come to ask for his jewels and the money with which he had gone unseen, but to be ashamed that he let him go distressed, thinking he had been killed.

It is not known what happened to those jewels and assets. Legend says that Stoica would have been sick with his lungs and would have died poor, unmarried and childless. Locals believe that this fate would have been taken from Mustafa’s curse, because Stoica was ungrateful to the Turk. The moral of this legend is based on an older popular belief, according to which the wealth does not bring happiness or luck to the one who has it.



·         Cristina Logofătu, “Monography of Vădastra”. University of Bucharest, 2007,

·         Mugurel Manea, “The stories of the scorched earth. The last pottery craftsmen that keep alive the ceramic of Oboga and Vădastra culture”, March 19, 2015,