Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Trebon Fishing Celebration, 28-29 Aug 2010

Trebon is at the center of the fish pond industry in South Bohemia. There are hundreds of fish ponds which have been used since the 1100s for flood control from the rivers. Each 'pond' (really large lakes!) are interconnected with a complex system of dams, canals, etc. The Golden Canal, running through Trebon, carries water from the Luznice River to the fish ponds.
Fish are grown for harvest each fall (October) during which time some of the ponds are drained and all the grain-fed fish are harvested for sale. Each pond is harvested every 2-3 years after the fish get to a large enough size. The types of fish grown include carp (the mainstay here in S. Bohemia and in Czech culture---particularly for Christmas eve dinner), salmon, and trout. Most of the salmon/trout are exported, particularly to Scandinavian countries while much of the carp is sold in the Czech Republic.
The fish ponds are under the jurisdiction of the Fish Pond Managers (some of whom are shown above in their official uniforms). Each manager controls several adjacent sets of fish ponds--involved with the fish feeding, water quality assurance, harvest, etc. Hundreds of people gathered on this rainy Saturday to celebrate the opening of the fish harvest season.

While these are a bit hard to discern, several large carp were placed in swimming pools by the main stage so everyone could get a closer look! We were amazed.....these are as big as SHARKS! The one on the right is 3-4m in length and approximately 0.75m in diameter.  We would not want to swim next to these guys! Wow.
We were serenaded by this horn trio which played a rousing fishing anthem for the ceremony.
Then the Governor of South Bohemia was there to be initiated into the Fish Managers Guild. He was submitted to the 'dry' initiation (we'd hate to think what the wet one would be on this rainy day!) where he had to put his head into this container for weighing drained fish, have a bucket of ice cold water dumped down his pants (left) and then get tapped with the ceremonial hatchet and paddle!
The Governor was a great sport, as he now is thanking the head Fish Manager for being initiated into this elite system.

Here he is with his plaque to hang in his office.
Then, once that ceremony was done, all of the Fish Managers shared a sip of special rum.

From here, after passing through the numerous vendors set up in the historic city square (one of whom was selling some of our favorite red ceramic pottery)...
we went over to the Trebon Archives in the Rosenberg Castle which were open just for this special day so we could examine the archive files and see some of the historic maps, drawings, and photographs of the Fish Pond industry since it's inception hundreds of years ago. Here are some detailed maps of the region and sketches of the interconnected fish ponds:
The archive cases were extraordinary works of art in and of themselves. Here are some of the painted and handlettered cases in which many of the ancient maps and drawings are kept:
More of the maps and drawing (if you double-click on each image, you'll be able to read the caption and dates.
The complex engineering system system to move the water between ponds and change the levels. 
Then we ran across this painting of one of the funerals for a Scwarzenberg family member (they were in the castle at that time) as they were taken across the fish pond. What was interesting was that, 2 years ago, Mark and I were given a special tour of the basement of the Chapel in Trebon where the caskets of some 25 members of the Schwarzenberg family are interned. Undoubtedly we saw this person's casket.
More historic drawings and beautiful paintings of the fish ponds:
Photographs from the early 1900s of that year's fish catch:

In the castle, numerous antlers were adorning the walls of past hunting expeditions of the royalty. Some of the historic documents were in Czech, while others were in German, depending on who was in power at the time the documents were written.
Throughout the archives were lovely rooms with other storage cabinets (gorgeous woodworking and cabinetry!), as well as the statue of the Saint for the city.
Here, too, are the practical things such as a winter wood stove in the corner (metal glazed with ceramic), and of course, chandeliers made out of Bohemian glass.  
After that, we were virtually famished and headed off to lunch with our colleague Jan. We went to one of the local restaurants to feast on fish, of course--carp! It was really tasty since it is grain fed (much better than the 'fishy' taste that carp has in Minnesota). Neil had fried fish (quite tasty), along with potato pancakes (made with marjoram) and salad.
Mark had broiled fish (sensible man!) which, interestingly enough, tasted more like a combination of turkey and some other fish.  It was divine!
Oh....and one last view out of the archive windows at the Rosenberg Castle, showing the famous sundail from 1793. Too bad it was a cloudy day!
Jan pointed out that this building below was once the Jewish Synagogue in Trebon. During the war years it became a residence. He said that a plaque is going to be installed on the building to commemorate this historic building and the tragedy that befell it and its congregation. We're going to explore more about this in another visit to Trebon.

Disclaimer: This blog is not an official University of Minnesota or Fulbright Program blog. The views expressed are my own and not those of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations, or the University of Minnesota.

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