Opens Doors to Young Artists
Slovenian literary folklore, which includes songs, tales, legends, proverbs, riddles and counting rhymes, is a true treasure trove of information about the social, economic, psychological and specific cultural characteristics and special features of the life of Slovenians. This also includes money, which very often turns up in such traditions in one way or another.
These songs, stories and more help us understand how people in Slovenia used to refer to money in their everyday lives. In addition to official designations, such as dukat (ducat), tolar, goldinar (gulden) and krajcar (kreutzer), they also used more descriptive and picturesque
names, which made it easier for them to identify various types of coins. One option was to simply name them by colour. The shiny gold coins were thus referred to as »žuti« zlati (yellow gold ones), zlati rumeni (gold yellow ones), zlataki (gold ones) and rumenjaki (yellow ones), and the bright silver coins simply as beliči (white ones). They could also be named after the number on the coin showing their value, such as dvojača (a double), trojača (a triple), petica (a fiver), zeksar or šestica (a sixer), and cvanc'garca or dvajsetica (a twenty). Coins were also named after the various images on them. For example, šmarna petica was named after the Virgin Mary, repar after the turnip in the coat of arms of the Salzburg Archbishop of Slovenian descent, and so on.
The Slovenian word plačilo (payment) is connected with the material value of an object or service, but, at the same time, it can also be used in an ethical or moral sense: we pay for disobeying the social norms, for our mistakes, indifference, and so on, as well as for protection from the authorities or even God. There is a Slovenian saying in this context – »gor plačati« (to pay for one's sins). We thus preventively and curatively pay with money and goods, but we also pay for our bad behaviour by getting sick, being punished, and so on. We count our money and possessions, but Slovenians can also use the verb »to count« figuratively, for example in the phrase »našteti jih komu«, which literally means something like “to count someone’s wrongdoings”, and can be translated as »to tell someone off«.
The Seven Yellow Gold Coins exhibition explores, reflects and revives the role of money in the folk tradition of the Slovenian geographical and cultural area. It examines the wealth of the diverse meanings and forms of money, either tangible or intangible, direct or indirect. The exhibition is divided into three carefully designed sections, which trace the different iterations of money in the everyday and festive lives of people in the past, and show the echoes extending to the present. The first section focuses on the numismatic dimension of money, which includes gold, silver and copper coins. These are not merely the bearers of financial value but are also enriched with the vibrant tradition of oral literature. They are followed by colourful customs and traditions that combine money with the life cycle of past generations, from birth to death, connecting it with the annual cycle of tasks, rituals and holidays. Within these contexts, money emphasises the importance and weight of various elements of everyday life. The last section highlights the importance of money as a decorative element in jewellery and ornamentation. This part reveals the aesthetic value of money and presents how it is integrated in the folk art tradition, showing how money transcends its mere economic role and is an important part of cultural heritage that connects the past, present and future.
It is in these literary folklore, customs, clothing and folk art, as well as the folk names of money and in pop culture – which all constitute cultural heritage – that we can see not only the history of money, but also the history of Slovenia and its people. Banka Slovenije is happy to dedicate its time and attention to all of this, including with the exhibition The Seven Yellow Gold Coins.
Authors: Špela Goltes, Bogdana Herman, Alenka Miškec, Katarina Nahtigal, Vladimir Vidmar
Production: Banka Slovenije
Coproduction: Narodni muzej Slovenije, Slovenski etnografski muzej, Numizmatično društvo Slovenije
Design: Špela Goltes
Exhibition furniture by: Gregor Stražar s.p.
Accompanying texts: Bogdana Herman, Alenka Miškec, Katarina Nahtigal, Vladimir Vidmar