The Trenta Bowl

The Trenta bowl is one of the simplest and also most beautiful objects included in the Tolmin Museum's ethnological collection. It is a rather large, bulbous wooden vessel with two simple handles on each side, made of a single piece of wood. It was used by the inhabitants of the Trenta Valley for storing lard, cottage cheese, and other foods. The Tolmin Museum houses eight such bowls. The smallest and largest bowls are 13 and 35 centimetres in height respectively; all of them have been brought from the Trenta Valley. The Trenta bowls originates solely in the Trenta Valley as no such vessels were made elsewhere, anywhere further ahead of the village of Kal-Koritnica.

It differs from other similar wooden household vessels that were in the past used in all Slovenian regions primarily in the way it was made, i.e. in a special, very archaic manner. In the past, there was not much high-quality wood in the Trenta Valley, and the wood that did exist was mostly used to build houses and make simple furniture. Hence, pieces of wood that would elsewhere have been used only for heating were used to make various wooden tools, vessels, and other objects. The Trenta bowls were made out of burls – the bulbous protrusions growing on the trunks of some trees like some sort of malignancy. Due to its unnaturally intertwined and deformed wood fibres, burl wood is extremely solid and therefore very difficult to work. However, inhabitants of the Trenta Valley tackled this problem with ingenuity and logical thinking. In working the wood and, above all, in howling out the vessel's inside, they made use not only of simple carpentry tools, but also fire. Just like their distant ancestors, who had made simple dugout canoes, they softened and burnt out hard wood with smouldering embers, and using this effective – albeit a slow – method, made a product they had every reason to be proud of.

The Trenta bowls are not one of a kind only in terms of the way they are made, but also in terms of their design, which speaks volumes about the extraordinary ingenuity and creativity of the bowl makers on the one hand and their innate sense of beauty on the other hand. This sense is not revealed through a heavy use of materials, colours and patterns, but through the simple, clean lines and a design that even today's best designers would have nothing to take away from or add to. Unfortunately, nowadays the Trenta bowls can only be seen in the museum or visiting some keen collector of historic relicts, as they are no longer made the way they were in the past.

Opening time
Tolmin museum, permanent exhibition

Tuesday - Friday: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday,
Holiday: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Monday closed
closed also Jan 1, Nov 1, Dec 25
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Tolmin museum, permanent exhibition

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Tolmin museum, temporary exhibition

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