Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Merry Cemetery of Sapanta

Sapanta, Maramures County, Romania.  Started in 1935, today there are more than 800 carved and brightly painted markers in Romania's Merry Cemetery.   Wood carver Stan Ioan Patra is credited with having the original idea and it was he who crafted these colorful, cheerful markers until his death in 1977 when his apprentice, Dumitru Pop Tincu, took over and continues the service till today.

Carved and painted scenes depicting interests, talents, careers or an important—or humorous—part of a person's life serve as illustrations to epitaphs written in the first person, making this cemetery so much more interesting than tombstones carved with just a name and dates of birth and death.  These markers emphasize life's passions, triumphs and diversity of interests through folk art and allow us a glimpse of the talents and personalities that made up the community through the decades.

It is the most unusual cemetery I've seen.  All of the markers were at one time painted blue, symbolizing the soul's reunification with what lies beyond the sky but many of the older ones have faded with time.

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