Friday, May 2, 2014

#681 Sapanta's Merry Cemetary, Maramures, Romania

In a small village in northern Romania, this church graveyard sees many more visitors than your ordinary graveyard. It is full of colorfully painted wooden crosses telling a story, a poem or other information about the deceased, along with a painting of either their last moment or their common habit in life. There are shepherds with their sheep, mothers cooking, barbers cutting hair, weavers weaving their looms, and others where you wished you understood Romanian so that you could find out the story! Others show how the person died, with road accidents having a frequent appearance, while others try and send a message to the reader (such as the one about a drunk gambler whose family fear that he will be judged harshly in heaven).
Art exhibitions across Europe have featured this work of village humor and warmth, and life in the village continues much as always, although with a few more tourist souvenir stalls. The simple wood sculptor Ioan Stan Patras began to carve the crosses in 1935 with each cross having a blue background (the traditional color of hope and freedom). He even carved his own cross before he died in 1977, and wrote in his epitaph about the 'cross' he had to bear, supporting his family from the age of 14. After he died, his apprentice Dumitru Pop continued with his work, and apparently makes around 101 crosses a year depending on the village mortality! The church (see photo at right) is decorated with traditional frescoes and dates from 1886.

Source: Lonely Planet Romania & Moldova, 3rd Edition, 2004 Find some great stories about particular crosses here.

No comments:

Post a Comment