Wood Stories: Štokrle
IT IS INTERESTING THAT THE CHAIR »ŠTOKRLE« PLAYS A ROLE ALSO IN THE STORY ABOUT THE SYMBOL OF SLOVENES- THE TOWER OF ALJAŽ. JAKOB ALJAŽ BOUGHT THE TOP OF TRIGLAV, THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN IN SLOVENIA. AFTER THAT HE INSTRUCTED THE TINPLATE MASTER ANTON BELEC TO DRAW A CIRCLE AROUND THREE »ŠTOKRLE«CHAIRS AND MEASURES ITS DIAMETER.THE HEIGHT OF THE HATCHES OR WINDOWS OF THE TOWER WERE DEFINED SO THAT THEY MEASURED THE HEIGHT FROM THE BOTTOM TO THE EYES WHEN SITTING ON A »ŠTOKRLE«. THESE MEASUREMENTS WERE LATER USED IN THE ALJAŽ TOWER PRODUCTION.TODAY IT STANDS ON THE TOP OF THE SLOVENIAN HIGHEST MOUNTAIN TRIGLAV.
Štok(e)rle or štok(e)rl, in Gotscheer langugae »Schtökherle«, a four leg chair without a lean, was an undispensable piece of furniture in each home. In many kitchens it was used even after WWII or late into the second half of the 20th century. As it is explained in the ethimologycal dictionary the word »štokerle« is derived form Bavarian German or from the word »Stockerl«, the diminutive of the German word »Stock« that means a stork or parobek. The »štokerle«chairs were used in the Kočevsko region and all around other places in Slovenia.
The »štokerle« excelled for its practicallity as if not used it was put beneath under the table. It was used not only for sitting but also as a low ladder for working under the ceiling, on the cabinets or when changing the electric bulb or even as the cabinet for disposing different objects. It was used as a base for a wooden bucket or enamelled savor for morning or evening washing or for putting a flower pot on it. When the elders allowed children could play with it and that was seldom.They used it as a small house or uspide down as a car, ship or fram train.The »štokerle« was used until it was firm in construction. In the end it was used for starting fire in the oven.
The »štokerle« chairs were made of solid wood. Sometimes there was also a drawer beneath the sitting surface that was opened from the top so that the sitting surface was lifted. Due to its verstaile usage the »štokerle« had to have a durable construction. The legs were usually connected with a joining lath beside its bridge under the sitting surface.The lath was also used for cleaning mud from shoes. When the chair was dirty it was simply scratched with a brush.
It is interesting that the chair »štokrle« plays a role also in the story about the symbol of Slovenes- the tower of Aljaž. Jakob Aljaž bought the top of Triglav, the highest mountain in Slovenia. After that he instructed the tinplate master Anton Belec to draw a circle around three »štokrle« chairs and measure its diameter. The height of the hatches or windows of the tower were defined so that they measured the height from the bottom to the eyes when sitting on a »štokrle«. These measurements were later used in the Aljaž tower production. Today it stands on the top of the Slovenian highest mountain Triglav.
Beside the »štokerle« an obligatory part of each farm kitchen at the turn of the century was also a table with a drawer for cutlery. If the kithcen was large enough also wooden banks.
Dr. Anja Moric
Institute Putscherle, center for research, culture and cultural heritage conservation