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Panoramas / Tradition craftsmen

Lime-burners on Rika Mountain

Vârghiș

The burning, transportation and sales of lime meant an honest living for the population of 36 settlements in the 19th century Seklerland, such as Mereşti/Homoródalmás, Homoródkarácsonyfalva, Vârghiş/Vargyas and Sândominic/Csíkszentdomokos – to mention only the most important ones. There are documents witnessing the fact that Vârghiş/Vargyas became well-known even centuries before due to the activity of the 5-10 local lime-burners that exploited the limestone strata of the surrounding mountains.

The prime material of lime-burning is the limestone (calcium carbonate) structured of calcite crystals. If heated up to 900-1000 C°, it decomposes into carbon-dioxide and calcium-oxide. And since carbon-dioxide is gaseous, it will evaporate, and thus the solid calcium-oxide – the lime – is be obtained. Subsequent to burning, 1kg of limestone yields 0.5 kg of lime.

For the moment being, there are 12-13 families burning lime in the 15 cauldrons existing in Vârghiş/Vargyas, offering the possibility of a living to fifty-sixty people (family members included). Of course, this may not be called a life of luxury. The constant and steady fire has to burn for 36 hours. Besides, the procurement of the stone and the wood, the splitting and flipping of the limestone, its building into the oven, and then the stripping of the burnt limestone require strong physical labor, quite often undertaken by women, as well.

According to their potential, besides lime-burning, the families are also involved in farming and animal breeding within their households. Therefore, their incomes resulted from lime-burning is being amended by their own in-house production.




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