The Cowboy Goes East: Howdy, Hungary!

Posted on August 3, 2022 by Melissa Stewart in

We are excited to share that the Móra Ferenc Múzeum, in Szeged, Hungary is celebrating the legendary American “Wild” West with items shipped from the vaults of The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, here in Oklahoma City.

The exhibition has more 50 pieces of art and artifacts that were shipped across the ocean and installed under the advice of our very own Cowboy experts. This joint effort was more than a year and a half in the making.

Michael Grauer, McCasland Chair of Cowboy Culture & Curator of Cowboy Collections and Western Art, was the guest curator for the exciting new exhibition all about Cowboy & Indians in Hungary, working with the team here to collect items, write descriptions and ship them overseas via air. Grauer even loaned a few of his own personal books to the exhibition to help tell the story of the American Cowboy.

As European visitors learn how cowboy culture impacted the culture of the American West, they may be inspired to reflect on their own traditions and legends of Hungary’s cattle herders called “gulyás” who do most of their herding on foot. The exhibition also includes information on Hungarian herding traditions, some of which are still being carried out today.

 [Photo via Wikipedia: Hungarian herdsman in traditional clothes]

The exhibition drew more than 7,000 on opening night, held June 25, and will be on display until December 2022.

 

Check out just a few of the pieces from the Museum vault that are now on display in Hungary.

SILLA DE VAQUERA (VAQUERO SADDLE), circa 1880
Maker unknown, Mexico
Rawhide, leather, wood, metal
Joe Grandee Collection, 1991.01.3959

Today’s “cowboy saddle” derived from several sources, primarily the Spanish war saddle (estradiota), the Moorish saddle (jineta), and the West African military/nobility saddle. The design and perfection of a saddle horn is perhaps the most important invention of vaqueros in Mexico. After throwing the loop of his lasso around an animal’s head (or feet), a vaquero would wrap the other end of his rope around the saddle horn or dar la vuelta (“take a turn”; corrupted by cowboys into “dally”). The horn became a post to absorb the shock of an animal on the other end of the rope. By 1772 the Spanish Royal Regulations required a vaquero saddle in a specific design. The holes or slots in the cantle are for tying of fastening belongings to.

CHAPS, 1915
R. T. Frazier Saddlery, Pueblo, Colorado
Leather, metal conchas, spring-snaps
Joe Grandee Collection, 1991.01.1820

Cowboy chaps descended from Mexican vaquero chaparreras and full leather trousers from the earliest cowboys. Early chaps which hugged the legs were called “shotgun” chaps. This pair is an early example of “batwing” chaps. Decorated with nickel-plated conchas, these chaps also have brass studs added by their cowboy wearer.

KNIFE (FACON), 1940
Unknown maker, Montevideo, Uruguay
Steel, leather, ivory
Museum Purchase, 1983.29.141

Beginning as a military weapon, the gaucho’s facón became a standard tool for work and protection. They often fought duels with their facones and a poncho wrapped around one arm as a shield. One scholar has noted that “Vaqueros and gauchos considered firearms unmanly and delayed using them long after they had become available.”

If you can’t make it to Hungary, don’t worry. There’s plenty to see right here. And if you become a member today, you can visit the Museum all year round and see upcoming exhibitions including:

Art of the Northwest Coast
August 22, 2022 – May 1, 2023

Aliento al Tequila (The Spirit of Tequila)
September 1, 2022 – October 23, 2022

Sombreros Texanas and Bosses of the Plains: Cowboy Hats from the Permanent Collection
September 16, 2022 – January 8, 2023

Small Works, Great Wonders
November 11, 2022 – November 27, 2022
Art Sale: November 11 – 6:00pm – 9:00pm

OutLAWman
November 19, 2022 – May 7, 2023

You Have Died of Dysentery
The Ways We Play Western
December 10, 2022 – May 7, 2023

Membership

There’s so much to see at the Museum you’ll want to come back again and again. Become a member today and you’ll receive:

  • Year-round admission
  • Digital invitations and Member Pricing for Annual Museum Events
  • Access to Member-exclusive exhibition previews
  • 15% discount at The Museum Grill, The Museum Store, and online shopping

JOIN NOW

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Communications Manager