24 / 2006
Darja Gorjup


Presented in the contribution are commercial journeys of the Gaberje women and the influence of those on the role of women in the family and in the village. Women from Vipavska brda were setting out on their journeys not wishing to become rich but in the necessity for survival. Because of circumstances in which they lived, their life of a peasant housewife was all but being shut between the four walls. The women played several roles: they were mothers, wives, daughters-in-law, villagers, traders, smugglers, perhaps even adventuresses, and migrants. They moved to the neighbouring towns and to the countryside and thus circulated between home and source of income for the essential necessities of life. Particularly women with small children sought a compromise and thus did not emigrate permanently; they just circulated. Thus, they were still able to carry out the role of the mother and wife and take care of inflow of money into the household.
The word with which women themselves denote their commercial routes and themselves is brangerstvo or brangerca, meaning a woman who in the dealt period transported by various manners eggs, butter, seasonal vegetables, raspberries, meat, strong liquor and other products to Italian towns, sold them there or exchanged, and brought home some money or exchanged provisions and domestic necessaries, which otherwise could not be bought (macaroni, soap).The changing of political circumstances and consequently of state borders, influenced the course of commercial routes.
The reasons for migration of each woman from Gaberje have multiple causes. Although roughly we can comprise them in the social economic situation, (each collocutor tells the principle reason for migrations was poverty) each woman has a story of her own and own motives. In the forefront placed Olga’s story corresponds to the stories of the rest of women from Gaberje and is valuable because Olga too was going to Trieste along the paths her mother walked.
Although the journeys were undoubtedly physically straining, the women thus encountered the world not seen from their village. They saw Trieste, a large and in their eyes a rich town. The journeys of small groups of women who knew each other were everything but a commercial march in silence. The women made jokes, laughed, sang, shared advice – as well commercial as those more concerning family life.
The money the brangerce earned presented their at least partial financial independence. The journeys were to them a brief absence from their children and husbands and were actually time of their own. The earned money also influenced the social development of the village, the change of the status of women, family steadiness, and traditional social patterns of marital stability. In Gaberje, the power of women within families grew as they had access to own money. Although they used it for the family, above all for the children and food, the women decided on it. The life standard of families rose, although gradually, because of their journeys as well.