Stove and Chimney Masonry in Burgenland Traditional craftsmanship in Burgenland, inscribed 2010
The construction of brick industrial smokestacks and firebrick-lined industrial furnaces involves special techniques and artisanal skills. Stove and chimney masonry is prominent above all in the Burgenland communities of Neutal, Ritzing, and Sigless. The families in which this trade is practiced identify strongly with stove and chimney masonry, as do their villages as a whole.
But since the shift from building chimneys out of brick to making them from steel has entailed the virtual elimination of demand for new stove and chimney masonry work done in the classic manner, such activities are now limited to repair and restoration jobs as well as to the to the supervision of semi-skilled workers primarily in foreign countries. The craftsmanship skills involved here have been handed down over many decades within individual businesses, working groups, and families. As a specialised area of masonry, the stove and chimney mason’s trade fits into a broader concept of craftsmanship activities. The importance of stove and chimney-related artisanship—and hence its constitutive role in the identity of the local populace—is evident above all in the broad support enjoyed by the project to found the Museum für Baukultur [Museum of Building Culture] in Neutal, Burgenland, which was opened in 2005. These days, it is above all the retired oven and chimney masons who pass on knowledge to younger generations: special workshops are held in which particularly young people are introduced to the artisanal skills that stove and chimney masons uphold.