Chirpici

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Making chirpici bricks in semi-developed Romania

Chirpici [kirˈpit͡ʃʲ] is a Romanian term for adobe bricks. Chirpici is a traditional construction material made out of clay and straw, used especially on the steppes of southern Romania, in the Bărăgan Plain, but also in other lowlands of Oltenia, Moldavia and Dobruja.

The Romanian word "chirpici" is derived from a Turkic "kerpiç", as several Turkic tribes (notably the Cumans and Pechenegs) came from Central Asia and settled in the Bărăgan. As they were less numerous than the Romanians[citation needed], they were assimilated, but kept the way they made chirpici.[citation needed]

Traditionally, Romanian houses require wood, which is used both for construction (some types of houses in Maramureş and Bukovina were made exclusively out of wood) and also for the firing of bricks. Wood is plentiful in the hilly and mountainous regions of Romania, but in the Bărăgan steppe and other lowlands, neither wood nor rock can be easily found and in the Middle Ages it was not practical to transport these materials hundreds of kilometres.

As such, the chirpici bricks used for construction are made out of clay, with straw and manure and are baked in the sun before they are used. The result is not as hardy as regular bricks and it becomes less so with time. It is also especially vulnerable during floods.

Since cement and mechanized transportation have become available, chirpici is no longer used on such a large scale, although it remains in use in some parts of the Bărăgan Plain, which is one of the least developed areas of Romania.

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