The Kozolec (Hayrack)
The hayrack or kozolec is an ancient structure, retaining an archaic mode of building. It has developed in construction and functionality together with the development of farming methods during the 18th and 19th centuries, but it was described and recorded as a well established uniquely Slovenian farming structure in the middle of the 17th century by Matevž Merian and Janez Vajkard Valvasor.
Slovenia’s landscape is characterized and defined by the hayrack to the an extent that it has become a national icon. It is seen everywhere in Slovenia, except in Prekmurje and parts of Primorska, where the dry climate and strong winds make it both unnecessary and unpracticable. It appears on greeting cards, paintings and photographs, and immediately identifies a landscape as Slovenian.
It was the impressionist painter Ivan Grohar (1867 – 1911), who had painted the hayrack as an essential and defining image of Slovenian countryside. It was due to his perception that the kozolec became a part of the cultural as well as physical landscape of Slovenia.
The hayrack is a supremely practical farming tool, intended to make farmer’s work easier, and to preserve the produce of the land. The ground in the Alpine and hilly areas can be damp, therefore corn, wheat and hay are hung from the racks, allowing the wind to do the drying faster and more thoroughly.
There are many different types of Slovenian hayracks: single ones standing alone or with sloped ‘lean-to’ roofs, parallel and stretched ones, and double hayracks (toplarji), often with roofs and storage areas on top. Simple hayracks are not unknown in other parts of Alpine Central Europe, but toplarji, decorated or plain are unique to Slovenia. An ancient part of Slovenian heritage, the hayrack is still very much part of the present day agricultural practice, admirably combining functionality, aesthetics and sentiment.
Have you ever seen similar structures?