Uz Valley ethographic architecture (north eastern Romania)

Ethnographic architecture from north eastern Romania (©Valentin Mandache)

The above photomontage depicts peasant houses and monumental wooden gateways carved with ethnographic motifs from the Uz Valley in the Oriental Carpathian mountains of Romania (Darmanesti, Bacau county). The name “Uz” comes from that of the old Turkic and Ugric populations that settled in the area one millennia ago, which in time got assimilated within the host ethnic Romanian population, but also still survive, represented by the small Csango ethic group, living in settlements in and around Bacau county, which are related to the Hungarians. The village, now a quarter of Darmanesti city, an oil refinery centre, is amazingly picturesque, with its ethnographic architecture surprisingly well conserved, hardly touched by the wild property development boom that devastated the stock of historic houses of this country in the mid 2000s. The pictures from the collage, which are also presented in the slide show bellow, display a wealth of ethnographic motifs typical to the area: a fascinating mixture of Romanian and Csango patterns. That type of period property is quite cheap now and would constitute an excellent renovation/ restoration project for anyone brave enough to acquire such a house in this quaint rural setting from the eastern fringes of the European Union.

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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.

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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.

Doorways canopy decorated with sheep rearing motifs

Doorway canopy decorated with sheep rearing ethnographic motifs, 1930s house, Carol Park area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The interesting wood carved decorations presented in this post, embellish the doorway awnings of a semi-detached house dating from the 1930s, located in the Carol Park area of Bucharest. The house has otherwise a nondescript architecture, where the only remarkable artefacts are these masterfully carved sheep rearing ethnographic motifs. Sheep rearing is the most important traditional occupation of the Romanian peasants, a fact abundantly reflected in arts and literature. The Neo-Romanian architectural style frequently contains references in its decorative register to the sheep rearing activity in the form of wood or stone carved ethnographic motifs or plaster mouldings. The images shown here contain fine representations of the sheep head, together with solar disc and rope motif carvings, signifying the key role of the sheep as a sustainer of life for the ancestral peasant communities from the Carpathian Mountains region, where Romania is located.

Doorway canopy decorated with sheep rearing ethnographic motifs, 1930s house, Carol Park area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

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I endeavor through this daily series of daily 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 a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

Neo-Romanian Ethnographic Verandas

Neo-Romanian ethnographic wooden verandas photomontage; examples dating mainly from 1920s, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

A main source of inspiration for the Neo-Romanian architectural style is the rich ethnographic art of the Romanian peasants. The geometric pattern wood carvings that adorn the peasant houses in the vast Romanian countryside are some of the most exquisite expressions of this art. The trend to include these decorative elements in the urban setting of the Neo-Romanian started in the early part of the inter-war period as a vivacious Arts and Crafts current inspired from the abundant local sources. It was promoted by many architects, such as the remarkable Henriette Delavrancea-Gibory. The six examples of verandas, which I selected for the photomontage presented here (see also the slide show bellow), is just a small sample from the multitude of such artefacts adorning the Neo-Romanian houses of Bucharest.

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I endeavor through this daily series of images and small 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 a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

Neoromanian Rope Motif

An exquisite Neo-Romanian style gateway assembly featuring the rope motif that originates in late medieval Wallachian church architectural decoration. The rope motif and the two solar discs present at the base of the gate opening are also ancient ethnographic motifs peculiar to the Romanian peasant art and domestic architecture. Late 1920s type house, Gara de Nord area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

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I endeavor through this daily series of images and small 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 a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

Daily Image 13-Mar-10: Peasant Wooden Gate for Town House

An exquisite and well preserved wood-carved (oak) gateway, exhibiting ethnographic motifs found in the villages of southern Romania, embellishing a mid-1930s Neo-Romanian style town house. Sincai area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

***********************************************

If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

Symbols and Messages of a Peasant Rug

A peasant rug from the Buzau ethnographic area of South-East Romania. (©Valentin Mandache)

This post is relevant for those interested in the peasant and traditional houses of Romania, looking to find out clues about the meaning and significance of the myriad of ethnographic symbols decorating this ancestral type of habitat. Traditional rugs, such as the one I photographed above, are essential decorative and spiritual artefacts that contribute to the make-up of a peasant house. This particular example exhibits an abstract human figure multiplied seven times (a number with miraculous beneficial properties in local mythology), in shades of red and black (see bellow for meaning) that has his/her arms suspended up in the air, denoting the worshipping of the Sun god, represented in this instance by the repeating rhomboidal figure on the rug’s border area. The chromatic range is formed from variations of three colours with fundamental ethnographic significance: black (earth), red (fire) and white (air-space-spirit). I very much like the stubborn persistence of old pagan worshiping elements in local ethnography, which can be encountered in every corner of a peasant house in the Carpathian region, dating probably from the times when the first Indo-Europeans settled the area more than 5,000 years ago, or even from earlier populations, despite the last two millennia of relentless “assaults” from the organized Christian religion. In fact there is an intense and lively intermingling and even syncretism within the local peasant culture between the Christian and ethnographic symbolism, that gives it a peculiar character, which just captivates the outside observer. The beautiful rug in the image above is actually a treasured present from my grandmother, a peasant woman from the Buzau ethnographic area of South East Romania, which she gave me about ten years ago to decorate my house in London and thus bring me luck and insure protection against the local Thames Valley malevolent spirits 🙂

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

***********************************************

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