The aims and effects of the qualification system of Hungarian applied folk art. Comparing through categories
Fruzsina Feketene Cseh (Hungarian Academy of Sciences)
Paper short abstract:
The qualification system of applied folk arts in Hungary is a special tool of comparison. It labels the artworks and indirectly the artisans on the basis of quality and aesthetic values, and schematizes the sectors of handicraft in the same time.
Paper long abstract:
The Applied Folk Arts Council in Hungary was established in 1953. Folk Art and Homecraft Cooperatives developed, intending to achieve a higher quality through the introduction of vocational training and a qualification system. The prestige and appreciation of craftsmen also increased, they become defined as folk artists. The assessment of phenomena that fall within the concept of folk art was related to contemporary ideological trends, cultural policy and economic ideas. The concept of applied folk arts has been disputed for decades, since it tends to force the more and more diverse heritage of peasant art work and small scale handicraft industry among the fixed frames of a definition. By an objective, anthropological research of the qualification system we receive a clean image about a guided (partly manipulated) cultural process, and about a proper method and language of art work-reading and -interpretation. The Folk Handicraft Strategy, published in 2013, introduced the modern category in the qualification system, which encourages many artisans to seek new ways. The qualification system means a kind of categorization, which is a special tool of comparison. The results (prizes, awards, titles) won in this system are often built in the creative identity of the artisans. However, this kind of categorization follows quite a different considerations than the ethnological researches do in the history of handicraft-industry and material folk art. As the qualification system labels only on the basis of quality and aesthetic values, it also schematizes in a sense the sectors of handicraft.
Comparison as social and cultural practice