The Swede in love with Maramures

Europas lifs universitet, Karpaterna, Maramures

“I had tears as I wrote about how friendly people are here”

Agries, Rumänien

Malin Skinnar is the Swede who discovered Maramures through the folk songs and life stories that she found in the villages she travelled to.

Now having come for the fourth time to this county, she has focused, this time, mainly on the local folk songs.

Always on the road, Malin Skinnar has travelled across the world with her camper, interested in catching what she calls “the essence of life”.

She has stayed in Greenland, Senegal, the Baltics, Bulgaria and now she is in Maramures, where she came fascinated by the voice of a 14 year old girl that she found in a YouTube video.

“I wanted to find out about Romania, so I did a YouTube search”, she says. She was in Bucharest for a music workshop, and impressed by the results of her internet search, she started asking everyone if they know who is the girl in the video that sings with such a profound voice, despite her young appearance.

“It was Livia Neag, a 14 year old girl with ponytails, but with a very profound voice. No one knew who she was, but they advised me to go to Cluj, because maybe she is from around there”, she continues. However, she arrived in Maramures, in Ungureni, to meet the family of Livia Neag, and she was impressed by the local songs, the elderly of the village and more.

Visit and stay Romania - Preluca Noua
Kollage Ungureni

Presently, Malin Skinnar is working on a book about the folk songs of different areas of the world, called “Searching for the women’s blues”.

This is how she arrived in Bulgaria, and now she is in Maramures, where she has made many friends in all of the villages she has researched.

The book she is working on is focused on the emotion expressed by women through folk song.

She is not searching mainly for stars of folk music, but for women who express their emotion singing folk songs, lullabies, songs of longing or sadness, and so on.

“The way people sing shows much about how they handle life, this project contains lullabies, songs of longing, doina… this book is about women’s songs from their private life, songs of longing, about life’s hardships”, she explains.

In Maramures there is the special “knot song” that has attracted her attention.

Seraching for the Women's Blues, Cupseni, Romania

The simple way of life, searched for by more and more westerners

She was impressed the most, she says, by the simple way of life, by the independence to modern technology, using just the simple rules to produce food for one’s own use.

“In Sweden, more and more people are interested in how to survive on their own. If we did not have electricity or the internet, we would not survive more than two days.

Even if we had twenty cows, we would not know what to do with them. It is like this in all of Europe.

The knowledge that villagers have here, not only as individuals, but as a community, is very valuable and everyone should come to see and learn from them.

People don’t know what producing your own food in your own yard means, and this is something very valuable that we don’t have anymore.

People here also have modern knowledge, everyone has relatives abroad, but their way of life and their knowledge of life are very valuable”, she says.

Storyteller Malin Skinnar in Maramures, Romania
Doina in Agries

Malin Skinnar has been in Maramures for about a month, and she says she is always impressed by the warmth that she is welcomed with.

“People always ask if I am fine, if I need anything, they make time for me.

I did an article about this in a Swedish magazine and I had tears as I wrote about how friendly people are here”, she tells us.

There is in Sweden, she says, a tourism company that books tourists in people’s homes.

She believes this should also happen here, because the tourists have much to learn from the villagers.

Malin Skinnar is a storyteller, writer-illustrator, actor, visual artist and producer with a mobile digital stage.

Even though she has been to our country  before, she says that now she was truly privileged, for she had someone to travel with all month.

Alex Ilea, a young man with a passion for music and ethnography like her, has helped her obtain information easier and translated for her.

Europas lifs universitet, Karpaterna, Maramures

The Swede in love with Maramures: “I had tears as I wrote about how friendly people are here”. Malin Skinnar and Zamfira Filip, Cupseni.

Road 18 in Carparths

Always on the road, Malin Skinnar has travelled across the world with her camper, interested in catching what she calls “the essence of life”.

Malin Skinnar video creator, storyteller and visual artist