detail of the gate

Cultural symbols

Posted on 2017-03-06    Category Culture

In this artcile will talk about a region of Romania, where the customs and traditions are very well preserved; Maramures. In that region, the wood art it is at a very high level and the wooden gates of the houses are very well decorated with symbols. About those symbols will talk in this article.

The Maramures Gates

You’ll meet it everywhere in Maramures, especially in the Iza Valley and in the area between the villages Calinesti, Rusi, Harnicesti and Desesti they are spectacular, beautiful, surprising and we are enchanted in front of them. Yes, I speak about the Gates from Maramures. I have seen it over many years on  my ways trough this magic land, but only in the last years have I studied more closely the drawings and symbols carved there, trying to understand their significance. I will reveal to you my reader, the result of my studies.

I have to tell you that the Maramuresan Gate is an expression of the folkloric art, a type of communication which use the signs, a language which tell us the message of the artesan. The decoration of the gates is dominated by the geometric shapes. The most common ornaments from the maramuresan gates are:

  1. The wolves tooth , the zig-zag shape;
  2. The Zig- Zag, the symbol being the one of the water and rain;
  3. The Round is a frequent tracery in the maramures art. It can show up simple or having a dot in the middle. The dot as symbol, starts from the point as the end of everything. The dot significance is in the same time the centre, the origin and the end of the reverse road and the creativity in the same time. The round had a universal utility, if we are thinking that the assyrieans used it to symbolize the God of Sky and in the Romanian art is a solar tracery. At the basics, the round has the significance of masculine - femenin, earth and sky or the four main elements (the water, the fire, the earth and the air). Also it symbolises fecundity of the womb
  4. The Triangle, is the geometrical representation of the sacred number 3, representing the Holy Trinity. The equilateral triangle symbolizes the divinity, harmony and proportion. It has the function as solar symbol too. Together with the sun, the triangle is twice a symbol of fecundity. In Judaism the equilateral triangle it was the symbol of God. Represented with the top up, is the symbol of the phallus and with the top down is the symbol of the womb.
  5. The sun divided in two parts , is the symbol of the end of the world in the folkloric beliefs. The end of the world will be anticipated by many natural disasters like the disappearance of planets.

The carols are saying: „The end of the world will be/When the sun will not rise/And the moon will be gone from the sky“.

  1. The Sun wheele (the cross inscribe inside the circle): is a Christian symbol of martyrdom and belongs to the Uranian - Solar cult. The bronze minicarts have wheels decorated with the sun tracery. A type of this symbol is the cross inscribed in the round.
  2. The Sun wheele with many spokes; another symbol of the sun which gives us, light and warmth necessary to maintain the life.
  3. Rosette flower with six petals, had a large area in the Romanian folk art being shown in Oltenia and then in Transylvania. The rosette flower with six petals inscribed in a circle had first a solar function and then, after Christianization, became The Chrisomon, the monograme of Jesus Christ.
  4. The grape bunch with the grapes has an oriental nature being identified with the tree of life. The Sumerian sign for life was a grape leaf because this symbolizes immortality.
  5. 10. The tree of life it is usually represented by a rope out of which branch smaller ropes from place to. From place to place there are crosses inscribed into the circle usually on the gateposts.
  6. The stag: a totemic animal in the culture of many nations is a divine messenger. Also it is a sign of virility, having a connection with heaven and a solar function. It’s the image of force generating life and the god of fertility.
  7. The Cross: appears as a tracery, long time before Christianity. It defends everybody against evil and it is represented in many ways.
the broken sun
zig zag