The Merry Cemetery - Sapanta, MaramuresPresentation Transcript
The Merry Cemetery from
Săpânţa - Maramureş
• The original character of
the cemetery is first of all
suggested by its name:
Cimitirul Vesel that
means The Merry
• This paradoxical name is
due to the vivid colours
of the crosses and the
amusing or satirical
epitaphs carved on them.
• Since I was a little boy
I was known as Stan Ion 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
• The text from the previous slide, it was an inscription on the
cross, so the cemetery is called so.
• 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
• 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
(like in Zalmoxianism).
The material used for the crosses is oak, which, after being properly cut and
dried, is carved by hand.
On the upper part of each cross is a bas-relief with a scene that describes
the life of the deceased.
The scenes are simple and naive in style, but have an undeniable power:
they bring back to life the inhabitants of the village and present their main
occupation or a relevant aspect (either a virtue or a flaw) of their life.
The cemetery dates back to the mid-1930′s and is the creation of the local folk artist Stan
Ioan Patras, sculptor, painter and poet rolled in one. Patras used all his skills to create this
masterpiece. For half a century the master created hundreds of wooden crosses, carved in a
distinctive style, so famous today. After his death in 1977, his work has been carried out by
his apprentice, Dumitru Pop Tincu.
One famous epitaph is:
• Underneath this heavy cross
Lies my mother-in-law poor
Had she lived three days more
I would be here and she would read
You that are passing by
Try not to wake her up
For if she comes back home
She’ll bite my head off
But I will act in the way
That she will not return
Stay here my dear
Each poem contains the name of the deceased and presents briefly an essential aspect of his/her
life, personality or habits; they can even talk about things that happened after the death of the
person, at the burial for example, or describe how death occurred. Bad habits are humorously
presented, but with a deeply moralizing intent.
No cross is complete without a short poem, a few simple rhymes (between 7
and 17), carved under the image. The epitaphs are written in the local dialect.
Sincere, spontaneous and written in the first person, they are messages from
the dead persons to the living world. The style is usually lyrical, but ironic or
satirical rhymes are also frequent.