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The Slavonian oak trees

Category: Nature | Date: 25.06.2014.

The forests are always full of power, richness and beauty. Forests protect the soil from erosion; have positive effects on the climate, on the water level fluctuations, on the yield of agriculture, on the development of tourism, on the health of humans and on the quality of life.

There was a time when the entire European continent was covered with oak trees. The greatest sacred tree was the oak tree; it was a symbol of the forest and wisdom, which connects the heavens and the earth. In the oak forest people often lit a fire, but they always did it on an area protected by fence. The branches of the oaks were sacred; the leaves were used to treat patients. In some Slavonian villages it was believed that the crowns of oak trees were gathered by fairies and thus one can find some place around the trees. On the area of Slavonia, at the forest of Petrovaradin the maritime and dry land regiments created the first forest regulation in 1755, which stated that only the foresters and the Slavonia Krainik Military Command can take care of the forests. This Regulation contained many provisions relating the exploitation of the trees of the forests but later it was banned by Empress Maria Theresa in 1769.

Since Slavonia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire for centuries, before and after the Ottoman Empire, one of the oldest written records, which is about the Slavonian and Croatian forests are the recordings of the Hungarian jurist, Stephen Werbőcz "Tripartitum opus iuris consuetudinarii inclyti regni Hungariae" from 1514 which prohibited logging and cattle grazing in the forests. However, the ban was not obeyed during all historical periods, Slavonians used the fruit of the oak, the acorns, for feeding the pigs and it was an important source of fuel and timber. At better times, people took the pigs to the woods to eat acorns to fatten them.

The forest of Spacva is located between the River Sava at Rijeka and Bot. The largest oak forest in Croatia, in the European context is the largest continuous oak forest. It’s an area of 40,000 acres of forest, or about 400,000 square kilometers. Improves the economy of the entire Posavina County. This forest was the first location where football and tennis matches were organized in Croatia, but it's a long story.

The English oak (Quercus robur) is one of the most precious types of the nearly 200 varieties of oaks. It occurs elsewhere in Europe also, including the Caucasus and Asia Minor. In Croatia it is spread on flood plains, along the Sava and Drava rivers as it prefers high level of groundwater. It can grow up to 40 meters high, might live for 800 years. Unfortunately a very few old trees live in Slavonian regions due to the turbulent history, the wars, those masters, who did not allow that these noble trees live to be really old. The oldest oak, with its beautiful, mature crown is located in Županja, approximately 200 years old, has been protected since 1976 because of its size and its aesthetic value.

Slavonia was covered with oak forests. When constructing ships oak is still used as a raw material, but it is also an excellent raw material when making barrels. Today, the oak barrels still have a special value in cellars, even in the era of the stainless steel.

The most valuable oak logs had been utilized by the end of the 19th century, in European (French, English, etc.) mills. The elegance, the evenness of annual rings, the easy formability, the even thickness, its gold color and durability gave the name of the old oaks processing of the international technological standards in Slavonia. The English oak is a kind of woodland symbol of Slavonia, the five-cent coins are decorated with its leaves.

The oak was used throughout Europe for constructing church roofs, doors and windows. In Budapest, the building of the Hungarian neo-Gothic Parliament, the doors and windows of the Folk Art Museum were all built of oak. A number of equipments of institutions in Vienna (new neo-Gothic buildings, palaces and other buildings) were made of Slavonian oak trees.

Wood, not only the oak, has been a noble material for ages, which not only served as firewood but many household objects were made of it. Different figures, games, religious artifacts and some contemporary musical instruments were made of wood. Even the first violin. But that's not all. The artists carved wood, made sculptures of wood. And this brings us to the artist (sculptor) group, the Ernestin.

The Ernestin sculptor team traditionally the meeting place of the sculptors (mostly of the naive), which is specifically held at the sculpture park in the Slavonian village, Ernestin. Here you can find a permanent exhibition of wooden objects.

The organizer is the "Petar Smajic" Ernestin Art Association. The sculptors are working on one team with the painters.

On this team for decades sculptors from all over the world worked together, hundreds of works of art have been made and put on show, in the park of Ernestin, or on its streets or in the Gallery of Peter Smajic. These are wooden sculptures or wood people, as they are called by the residents and visitors of Ernestin. But the real attraction is the mass of tourists who come to the village to see the sculptures.

Do you like trees? Is there such a person, who doesn’t? In Ernestin you are going to feel the magical power of the Spačva oaks. Make sure you visit it!

Contact: Likovna udruga „Petar Smjić“, općina Ernestinovo, Vladimira Nazora 64, 31 215 Ernestinovo, phone number: 031/270-216, phone number and fax: 031/270-214