Pictures of The Happy Cemetery, Maramures, Romania


Pictures, Images & Photos of The Merry Cemetery of Maramures, Romania.

Pictures & Images of the Maramares Merry Cemetery ( Cimitirul Vesel ) which is in the village of Săpânţa, 16 KM north west of Sighet on the Ukranian border.
The Merry Cemetery is a testament to the vision of woodcarver Stan Ioan Pătraş (1909 - 1977) who created in his lifetime over 700 colourfully painted wooden tombstones with small relief portrait carvings of the deceased or with scenes depicting them at work or play or surprisingly showing the violent accident that killed them. Each tombstone has an inscription about the person, sometimes a light hearted limerick in Romanian but sometimes a poignant warning like "Who sought money to amass, could not Death escape alas". Other tomb stones in the cemetery celebrate peoples lives in a comedic way such as "Now I will tell you a good one. I kind of liked the plum ţuica with my friends at the pub and I used to forget what I came for", the plum in this case was used to make the strong local Palinka indicating that the deceased was a famous drinker of the village. Another inscription from a mother to her son reads " Griga, may you pardoned be, even though you did stab me". A tragic story that like all the other pictures and inscriptions in the Merry Cemetery gives a unique picture of events and the lives in the little Maramures village of Săpânţa over the last century.

The naive folk art style of the tombstones creates a colourful light hearted effect that contradicts the overwhelming tradition of solemnity that is the norm in Christian cemeteries. This may be due to Maramures being at the cusp between the Western Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church which has left many Uniate or Greco Catholic churches which use the Orthodox Liturgy but recognises the Pope as Supreme Pontiff. Such schisms along with the remoteness of Maramures would have kept the old pagan beliefs alive and it is thought that the old God Zalmoxis still played a part in the beliefs of the people of Maramures, not least of which was that of a happy death that led to heaven.
If this were so then this is not indicated in the inscription on Stan Ioan Pătraş own tombstone in the Merry Cemetery which reads " Since I was a little boy I was known as Stan Ioan Pătraş. Listen to me, fellows There are no lies in what I am going to say. All along my life I meant no harm to anyone But did good as much as I could To anyone who asked. Oh, my poor World Because It was hard living in it." This inscriptions seems to indicated that the Merry Cemetery is a testament to the endurance of man and the fact that humans tend to temper adversity and make the hardships of life more palatable with humour. Pitras was aware though of the symbolism of colour in his work. The main colour he used was a special blue named by experts Săpânţa blue. The other colours he used represented: Green - life, Yellow - fertility, Red - passion, Black - death which are used particularly in the geometric borders of the scenes on the tombstones.

In 1977 Patras died and left his house and workshop to painter & woodcarver Pop Dumitru TIincu who is continuing Patras' tradition of tombstones making that has created a truly unique and very Merry Cemetery which is a testament to the lives and people of Sapanta and is a surprisingly joyous place.

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