Wednesday, November 18, 2009

In Romania: Faith, Art and Farmlands Coexist and Coalesce

First up this morning, an article highlighting the co-mingling of religion and the arts in Romania from The New York Times.

Excerpt Below // Full Article Here

GURA HUMORULUI, ROMANIA — The Bucovina region in the far north of the country, wrote the Romanian scholar Silviu Sanie, is “one of those blessed realms where sacred and secular monuments have enriched the enchanting natural landscape.”

During a recent week’s stay, I found this description remarkably apt.

The southern part, on the Romanian side, is a world of rolling farmland and steep forested hills, where antique villages and peasant culture coexist with new industry and modern construction. Horses and carts (and the occasional herd of cows) share the roads with SUVs, and intricately carved wood and other ornamentation still decorate many village homes and farmsteads.

Here, too, however, are religious sites far less known and rarely visited that also form important components of the region’s deeply rooted spiritual patrimony. These are the centuries-old Jewish cemeteries, whose weathered tombstones bear extraordinary carvings that meld folk motifs and religious iconography into evocative examples of faith expressed through art.

I was in the Bucovina to carry out research on Jewish tombstone art, and spent many hours photographing the richly sculpted tombstones in cemeteries in Radauti, Siret and other towns.

But, traveling by car, I was also able to visit nearly half a dozen of the painted monasteries, all of them located within an easy drive of each other.

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