Art Deco style zodiac sign on ceramic tile

Art Deco style zodiac sign on ceramic tile (cca 30x30 cm) dating from the mid 1930s on the exterior wall of a house in Popa Nan area of Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

A few days ago I briefly explored an area of Bucharest developed in the inter-war period (southern sector of Popa Nan neighbourhood), where many of the quaint Art Deco houses that are the hallmark of the local architecture are now in a advanced state of deterioration or defaced by aggressive renovations performed by ignorant property owners, so ubiquitous in nowadays post-communist Bucharest. I was quite glad to discover this ornamental ceramic tile, part of a small row of identical such ties, hidden under the roof-eave of a run down mid-1930s house. It depicts, in my opinion, a zodiac sign, which could be either a crab/ crayfish or scorpion. In my view, because of its chunkiness, among other features, is a crab. There are also other messages hidden within this abstract design, like the inclusion of the main body of the creature, apart from the four stylised pair of legs, within a pentagram. The choice of colours is also absolutely gorgeous, still looking fresh as in the days when the Art Deco style was all the rage in inter-war Bucharest. The great pity is the ugly TV cable hanging over the tile, partly obstructing its viewing, another inconvenience encountered practically at every step in this city located on the eastern edge of the European Union.


I endeavour through this series of periodic articles to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural history and heritage.


If you plan acquiring or selling a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing and transacting the property, specialist research, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contactpage of this weblog.


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