Sheep herding used to be the major source of income of the Slovak people. It was a tradition, the typical elements of which being “bryndza” cheese, whey of ewe's milk, pipes, bagpipes, huts, shanties, folk dancing, folk songs, etc. Some of the elements still function.
Sheep herding used to be the major source of income of the Slovak people. They made wool, meat, and meat products. Sheep herding was connected with specific art, tradition, and customs which shouldn’t fall into oblivion.
The shepherd’s hut
Sheep have grazed on the Slovak high-mountain fields since the 15th century. Shepherds used to live there from spring till autumn watching the sheep and accompanied by the dogs. The traditional shepherd’s hut comprised of the shanty, the fence and the functional objects. It was managed by the head shepherd who assigned work to other shepherds and the assistants (the so-called “honielniks”).
Work and art
Shepherds were easily recognizable thanks to their characteristic belts with many buckles, decorated bags, reed pipes, bagpipes or pipes, the latter entered in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Shepherds contributed to the Slovak tradition also through art. They used the spare time to ornament ceramic items with beautiful folk motifs. There are a number of preserved dishes, containers and shepherd’s axes. The development of sheep herding brought about folk dances and songs, the traditional elements cultivated later by generations.
The integral aspect of the shepherd's tradition is the typical food such as: ewe’s milk cheese „haluszki”, the smoked “oscypek” cheese, steamed ewe’s milk cheese, “bryndza” cheese, the whey of ewe's milk. All of these are widely enjoyed by Slovaks and foreign visitors even today.