Valki

valki pl. (valka, sing. East Slovak Romani) ("valogi", Ungr.) – sun-dried bricks, adobe bricks.

Before the war, and even a number of years after the war, village houses were frequently built with adobe bricks – valki. Even in cities, more than one house was built of this material. Adobe brick constructions were more often built in lowlands, where the earth was suitable for their production.

The production of valkiromaňi buťi, Roma work, was one of the traditional Romani means of making a living. In some areas, producers of valki occupied a lower social status than musicians, blacksmiths or tradesmen (I. Lacková, 1997). Elsewhere – for example, in places where there was a surplus of music bands – even musicians supplemented their incomes by producing valki.

As in many other professions, the whole family, including the children, participated in the production of adobe bricks. They hauled suitable earth (čik) to an open space and mixed it with chaff and cut straw (phusa). Then they had to tread on it thoroughly with bare feet. The adobe bricks were shaped using wooden forms. After being turned out, the bricks were laid out and left to dry for two or three days, depending on the weather.

During the war, customers usually paid for valki with money (as contrasted with many other services and work which were compensated for in kind).

Adobe brick houses with solid walls – murimen khera – were a symbol of social prestige. If someone wanted to announce his high social status, he declared, among other things, that he lived in a walled house. Among Roma, usually only rich swine traders, exceptional city musicians, etc. could afford such a luxury.

References

Lacková, Ilona (1997) Narodila jsem se pod šťastnou hvězdou (přel. Milena Hübschmannová). Praha.
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Production of dried baked bricks (Valki), 1970