Monday, July 7, 2008

Romanian Tombstones

The Merry Cemetery

The merry cemetery of Sapanta has been, for more than fifty years, the creation of sculptor Stan Patras, the successor of several generations of wood artists that bequeathed their trade from father to son.

In the beginning he sculpted about ten crosses a year. The method of work has been preserved unaltered to thisday. The oak wood is cut into beams that are then allowed to dry one or two years. Next they are hewn into 10-cm thick planks, 2.20 m long and 30-40 cm wide, ranged in stacks, and allowed to dry for some months more. Then the sculptor begins his work: first he draws the geometrical motifs and the bas-relief dedicated to the deceased, then he sculpts and paints the cross in blue - a symbol of hope and freedom.

The unusual feature of this cemetery is that it diverges from the prevalent belief, culturally shared within European societies — a belief that views death as something indelibly solemn. Connections with the local Dacian culture have been made, a culture whose philosophical tenets presumably vouched for the immortality of the soul and the belief that death was a moment filled with joy and anticipation for a better life.

The cemetery has its origin in some crosses sculpted by Ioan Stan Patras ,born 1908 - died 1977,his own grave will be seen here ,made by himself before dying. In 1935, Patras sculpted the first epitaph and since the 1960s, the whole cemetery was populated with over 800 such crosses, sculpted from oak wood, and it became an open-air museum and a tourist attraction.His work will be continued by one of his learners,by Dumitru Pop,restaurating now old and creating new tombstones.


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