Dragoș Lumpan – The Last Transhumance
“I started this project for several reasons.”
The first was curiosity. Travelling by train or by car I have seen sheep in the fields. Close to the sheep was a shepherd. I was curious to know more about shepherds: where they sleep, what they eat, what they do during all day long, during the entire year … I have found out that there are shepherds who roam every day with their sheep, hundreds of kilometres in a year, who sleep wherever the night covers them, under the sky, regardless of the season. They live in a different realm, in a different time, following a quasi-cosmic calendar. Yet, from time to time, we come across them.
Another reason is that I like cheese. It seems that cheese is one of the oldest staples of Romanian exports. Etymologically the word “cheese” originates most probably from the Geto-Dacian language; it was adopted by almost all the languages that surround us. The Slavonic languages use bryndza; this word entered into German as Brinse, Brimsenkäse in dialect. Sometimes it appears as Brinzenkäse. In German Käse means cheese, so that, most probably, the word is a tautology. However, this product is usually thought of as coming from Switzerland, from a town named Brienz, so that Brinzen-Käse could have meant “the cheese from the town of Brienz”. The most likely hypothesis is that the city was named after the staple it exported. That staple was prepared by the Romanian shepherds.
In Southern France the word brousse is used for cottage cheese. Its etymology seems to be the Romanian word brânza that reached France via Switzerland”. (The Dictionary of Travelling Words – Alexandru Graur). Due to my visual arts background, I have tried to narrate the story of cheese and its authors in my language, that is to say through images.
The third reason is the extinction of transhumance. Due to social changes, shepherds do not want to be shepherds anymore. Or, at least, they do not want to travel every day, every year, throughout their lives. Shepherding is more than a job. It is a hard way of life. It is very intense. Fewer and fewer shepherds are prepared to make the sacrifice.
The title of this project “The Last Transhumance” came from a Romanian shepherding family which had been travelling for generations. I followed them for 18 months. After that they told me they wanted to give up transhumance, or “transformance” as they were calling it. They have remained shepherds, but now they are sedentary ones. In the Torah, the Bible, and the Quran we read that: “Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain was a worker of the ground”. Ancestrally, somewhere along the line, we all had a shepherd in our families.
We are witnessing the extinction of an ancient way of life, when people were content to live around a camp fire. I cannot stop the fire from going out, but I can try to record its dying embers.
More images and other interesting stories on Dragos Lumpan’s website.
Dragos Lumpan graduated the Academy of Theater and Film, Bucharest, Film Department, BFA in Cinematography. He also graduated with a BA the Christian Orthodox Theology University (Pastoral Theology) and in 1988-1990 he was a student of the University of Bucharest, in Geology and Geophysics.
• The Last Transhumance Facebook Page;
• “Sambata la Transhumanta” event on Facebook – you are invited to meet Dragos Lumpan’s exhibition at Muzeul Taranului Roman until the 18th of March. On Saturday 10/03, from 11 to 17, Dragos will be present at the exhibition for any details and questions about him and the project.