Arts and Crafts of Romania
Crafts of Romania
„What is that impulse, that irresistible force which will not let the peasant rest content with the merely useful, but drives him to seek the best proportioned and most harmonious forms that appeal to the eye by color and line, are pleasant to the touch and produce that rare sense of contentment, poise of mind and joy which characterize aesthetic enjoyment?
(Peasant Art in Romania, by George Oprescu, 1929)
The Merry cemetery in SapantaWhile there are great Romanian fine artists, among whom 20th century sculptor Constantin Brancusi is probably the most famous, the typical zest for life and almost naive optimism that the world is really a beautiful place seem best expressed in the traditional art and craft of Romanian peasants, extending even to their colorful, unique grave markers. In the „Merry Cemetery” of Sapanta,” bordering Ukraine, carved wooden crosses are painted traditional Voronet blue (named for the nearby painted monastery) and embellished with fanciful borders, renderings of the deceased and often anecdotes of their lives. An erstwhile town mayor is memorialized with anecdotes of his womanizing ways.
As in most parts of the world, full-time artists and artisans are drawn together, tending to form communities throughout the country, where locales are aesthetically inspiring and economically viable. Bucharest and a few of the larger towns boast a few galleries showcasing work from such artist communities, but most don’t have galleries. A few examples of local artists’ and artisans’ work are shown and sold in town museums, but most is sold in street markets adjoining major attractions. Sellers usually are also the makers and many speak English. A conversation with them can reveal fascinating facets of Romanian culture. Craft which are most popular include:
Romanian traditional painted eggsThe most readily recognizable examples of Romanian art are the famed painted eggs, especially prominent around Easter time. Painting of real hollowed-out eggs was an integral part of preparations for this festival of renewal. Women and children gathered in someone’s home and spent a day painting and gossiping. Intricate patterns were actually secret languages known only to residents of the regions where they were painted. The oldest known were painted with aqua fortis (nitric acid) on a traditional red background. They’re available in nearly all shops and street markets.