Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Sustainable Living and Land use › Draft Animals and Land-Use History › The last authentic six-ox medieval plow in action
- March 23, 2011 at 10:16 pm #42487
I found this old documentary, showing authentic medieval plowing with a wooden plow and six oxen in 1978 in Pribelja, Bosnia, in its very last practice in history.
it’s a facebook video. click on the second video from the top, (the bigger one). it lasts about 19 minutes, no subtitles. they start yoking up at about 5 minutes after vid start.
At the time the tractors were already widespread, but in a small, remote valley, there was a last demonstration of an ancient technology: a wooden plow with six oxen.
It is kinda sad, form today’ s perspective, to see oxen plowing in an all-wooden plow, and down the valley, new red tractors are breaking up soil.
There is still a lot of livestock in the fields.
At the end of this movie, owner of the middle pair announced he’d sell his pair so there won’t be any plowing possible. Six oxen were used because of the heavy and soaked soil, they needed a lot of traction.
The plow entire plow (minus coulter and plow share) , tongues, connections, rings, all are made of wood.
It’s truly a medieval plow. But it works surprisingly well!
Before the plowing certain ceremonies and customes are preformed, in hope of bringing good luck and ensuring good harvest.
„Kako ovo jaje pogodilo, tako žito rodilo!“ „How this egg hits may the grain yield!“ with these words he flungs the egg against
So Customs include throwing an egg to break on first right ox (he is the most important ox) for good harvest. 8:17
They give the oxen eggs (?)
Women adorne the oxen
„Be it so we earn in good health and spend in happy times“
At last the fistfull of grain is thrown over the entire span, oxen and plow, with words: „prva radja!“, meaning: first one bears fruit! (harvest)
Let’s go brothers, happy be in ye steps!
one says as the span starts making it to the field.
In plowing, one is holding the plow and other one is steering the plow via a vertical stick he’s holding, to steer it left or right, and also to prod the oxen with another one.
Since the plank is wooden, the plowman also keeps a wooden spade with which he scrapes off dirt that got cought on the plank.
Leads – the strongest pair, the right lead ox is the smartest ox, he walks in the furrow. His teamamate is paired to be weaker, and so that he doesn’t try to push th right lead ox out of the furrow.
Last pair – slosest to the plow, the most sluggish ones. There for ease of prodding
Middle pair – usually younger oxen in training for that year, they’ll be promoted to lead oxen or last pair, based on their preformance.
After the plowing, there is a good lunch for plowmen, relatives, newighbours and friends.
This old documentary shows why cattle were so prized and important in old ages.
Enjoy, dear friends, this is RARE!;)March 24, 2011 at 7:37 pm #65954CharlyBonifazMember
seeing all the rocks I fear for the old plow 😉
great video! thanks!March 25, 2011 at 1:00 pm #65956jacParticipant
Excellent Bivol !!! that plow was doing good work. Great to see. Thanks for sharing that…
JohnMarch 25, 2011 at 9:11 pm #65951
i’m glad you like it, this is one rare vid!
too bad i can’t sub it!March 25, 2011 at 10:02 pm #65950J-LParticipant
Very interesting video and I really enjoyed it even if I couldn’t understand a word.
I’m sure those folks know where not to plow in regards to the rocks and they probably have those patches picked clear of rock.
Amazing to me how good of a job they did with that wooden plow and six oxen.
Thanks for putting that up.March 27, 2011 at 10:53 pm #65957clayfoot-sandymanParticipant
Bivol, I watched in amazement at this short atmospheric film – thankyou for posting.
The scene where they struck the first furrow looked pretty wild, I kept thinking ‘this ploughing’s gonna be a mess’ but it really showed their skill and their ability to work together that with all the complexities of wooden implements, the soil conditions and a very large and excited team they made a beautiful job of ploughing…..
Especially liked the ploughman’s spade for cleaning the mould board – brilliant. And what nice soil they had.
That’s a real treasure you’ve discovered!
EdMarch 28, 2011 at 12:06 pm #65952
thank you all, thought it’d be a gem the moment i saw it!
the spades were still used in all kinds of plows here right up the start of the mechanization, it’s like a little iron shovel to scrape extra dirt of the plank with.
this is a truly medieval design of the plow, and these guys were full-time farmers do they knew all the tricks to plow with this type of plow.
it’s funny, and i wouldn’t believe it if i didn’t see it, how easily and cleanly this plow cuts and throws the soil aside! it slices like a hot knife thorough butter! and the oxen are no pushover as well, this vid is the only vid i saw castrated oxen do mock fighting!
and does anyone notice this team is not so much slower than a horse team with a walking plow? in some places i dare say they are almost equal in speed to a walking horse team(like in 12:00?)
i know they talked about re-heating an re-knapping the plowshare (as one does with an ax) so it’s sharp for the season.
also, in 14:40 the man holding that veritcal stick is like a rudder, he’s helping to steer and keep the plow on track.
it’s also funny how easy this plow is directed (or, well adjusted), compare to recent plowings here, where the plowman bends and pushes the plow down…
i wonder does that field bare any resemblance to medieval England before the Enclosure act in 1801.?
if anyone has any questions, do ask, maybe these guys already talked about it, so i can tell you!March 28, 2011 at 9:28 pm #65955CharlyBonifazMember
what is the function of the wooden Y-sticks with the yarn/rags in between each team?March 28, 2011 at 9:51 pm #65953
@CharlyBonifaz 25959 wrote:
what is the function of the wooden Y-sticks with the yarn/rags in between each team?
the sticks are used to attack the yokes. they are in fact wooden nails that go in the hole in the middle of the yoke, and fix it to the angle of the pull (hence i call them “fixed angle yokes”). what are the rags for? hm, don’t know.
i do know that there besides rags, also bent saplings, acting as wooden ropes, to hold the nail and yoke together.
now, note that it has that wooden stick in the middle. it is for hitching the implements, like a wagon tongue (they also have a hole in the middle), and also to keep the constant angle of the neck seat to the line of draft.
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