Friday, February 1, 2013

The Merry Cemetery in Sapanta Romanian called Cimitirul Vesel. It is an unusual place in the small village of Săpânţa in Maramureş county in Romania. The cemetery enchants by its colors, subtle lacy carvings, multiplicity of similar (but different!) wooden tombstones with detailed paintings.

It hypnotizes. You enter it and you come into another world...
The Merry Cemetery, photo by Andrzej Śliwiński

...the world of those who passed away.

Each tombstone is covered by a painting and a short description showing the life of buried person. From the other side the painting reveals a reason of a person’s death. Going farther and farther you are more and more familiar with the life-stories and at the same time you feel more and more close-knit with those people. 
The gardener's story, photo by Andrzej Śliwiński

You meet lawyers, mothers, doctors, peasants, gardeners, housewives, children, musicians, craftsmen...and many others. Those were people like you and me, with their own lives, habits, hobbies. The painter is often cruelly honest - he shows virtues and happiness as well as weaknesses, sorrow and problems. If someone was a drunker - he tells about it, if there was a girl tempting men - it is also not left unsaid. You can see who was cheerful, who liked to smoke, who died in an accident or on a war. It is a kind of local society chronicle.
The Merry Cemetery, photo by Andrzej Śliwiński
The cemetery is mainly a work of one man named Stan Ioan Pătraş. After his death in 1977 the idea is continued by other sculptor. Pătraş was a local artist who sculpted the first tombstone crosses. He started his work in 1935 creating the first tombstone - because the locals liked it, he decided to continue. The artist's work consists of approximatly 700 tombstones.
The Merry Cemetery, photo by Andrzej Śliwiński

Cimitirul Vesel invites us to consider our thinking about death, provokes the reflections. You leave it with a feeling that those buried people, not anonymous anymore, are still somehow alive. Alive not only in our memories, but in another world. You are accompanied by a thought that death is something tamable, a part of our life, its stage. 

I recommend to visit the Merry Cemetery in the evening before dusk, when there is few people, calm and quiet and the light favors photographers.

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