Statistical Researches into the History of Popular Furniture in Hungary


The Ethnographic Museum in Budapest has systematically collected dated objects of Hungarian popular culture. The present article is based on the statistical analysis of 746 dated pieces of furniture, a random sample of dated furniture in Hungary. Having the date and the name of the owner carved into furniture became popular with the nobility and upper bourgeoisie in Hungary in the 16th and 17th centuries. While in these classes this fashion faded away in the 18th century, it was then taken up by the petit bourgeoisie of the provincial towns and by the peasantry, the craftsmen functioning as intermediators. The article discusses the chronological development of dated furniture belonging to the dowry, to the 'sacred corner', to the kitchen, and children's furniture (Fig. I); the producers of dated furniture: cabinet-makers, joiners, home-workers, and amateur craftsmen (Fig. 2); the production and use of dated furniture in the town and in the village (Fig. 3 and 4); a case study of the example of a provincial town (Fig. 5 and 6) and a village (Fig. 7). The findings of the statistical analysis are interpreted within the framework of the Theory of Cultural Fixation and in comparison with similar studies in France and Northwest Germany. In the late 18th century, rural wealth in Hungary (Fig. 8: Wheat prices in Hungary) gave a strong impulse to innovation. The adoption of elements of furniture from higher (urban) classes is observable in certain periods (e.g. the late 19th century), whereas at times of economic recession or stagnation the processes of tradition prevailed. The findings indicate, however, that cultural processes that are already under way may continue to develop even in these less favorable times.

How to Cite

Csillery, K. K., (1979) “Statistical Researches into the History of Popular Furniture in Hungary”, Ethnologia Europaea 11(1), 55-75. doi:


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Klara K. Csillery (University Budapest)



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