Peculiarities of horse-drawn vehicles in Zanavykai ethnical area

Janina Morkūnienė

The horse-drawn vehicles make an important part of the dead stock of peasant’s farm; it shows the type of peasant’s life and economic activities, as well as his position in the social structure of a village.

Based on long-term investigations in the Zanavykai ethnical area, the main construction peculiarities of summer and winter harnessed transport means (wagons, sledges and horse tack), prevailing construction versions, terminology and use of these vehicles are discussed in the article illustrated with photos, schemes and drawings.

In the second half of the 19th century, the construction of horse-drawn work vehicles (wagons) used by Zanavykai was practical and convenient to make a vehicle longer or shorter, i.e., to adjust it for different loads by making a pole between the front and rare parts of a wagon longer or shorter (regulating the pole length by an iron plug). The iron-axle vehicles in the farms of Zanavykai peasants appeared at the end of the 19th century and finally prevailed in 1920-1930. Rich farmers had been acquiring the Sunday iron-axle vehicles from the end-19th century. Depending on economical position, such vehicles as brička (bryczka), brikelis (bryka), fajetonas (phaeton) were widely met in 1920-1930s.

According to construction type, the work and Sunday sledges used by Zanavykai were similar to those in other Lithuanian regions within the area covering the western margin of the west, southwest, central southeast Lithuania along the Nemunas River. The key differences in sledge construction, i.e., size, type of shaft fastening, depended on a type of harnessing and the adaptation of the upper body of the sledge for different agricultural purposes.

The Zanavykai peasants used to harness horses to the winter and summer vehicles with textile (before the end-19th–beginning of 20th c.) or leather (later) breast-collars (plėškė), and Sunday vehicles with brass-decorated leather breast-collars called šorai.

The development of horse-drawn vehicles in the area of Zanavykai ethnical group depended on farming activities of peasants, their social conditions, ethnographic traditions and affected by the neighbouring ethnical groups.