Tuesday, 11 May 2010
Golden Czech Hands
"Zlaté české ruce" (Czech golden hands) is a phrase you will hear in the Czech Republic. It refers to the national belief that the Czechs are great craftsmen and engineers. Whilst it is true that the Czechs do indeed have some very fine craftsmen, it is also true that many old skills are in decline.
More annoyingly it is often applied by Czech men to themselves regardless of skill level. As this is linked to the national identity a non-Czech needs to tread with care when challenging it. Under the Communist era a high level of DIY self help was required - if you wanted something, often the only way to get it was to make it with whatever materials you could get your hands on. This led to some fine examples of ingenuity and inventiveness, but it also led to some wonderful examples of Heath Robinson construction.
I came across a good example of this on the northern shores of Lake Lipno. Look closely at these fishing punts and you will see that some zlaté české ruce have nailed plastic garden chairs to the boats to create more comfortable seating. Another boat owner further along the shore had even used a swivelling office chair to afford 360 degree fishing.