We return to Corvin Castle only to gaze at its window slits and telling rocks in a 100-word story.
When you ventured through an old place, have you ever thought, if only these walls could speak… Would you be prepared to listen to their tales? For receiving, upon asking, can be a dangerous game.
Listen, then. Who tells this story?
I remember the riverbed, my forever home. The steam floating above, ghosts of her removed children.
Rattled among my kin, I reach the destination in one piece, save for a chip on my face. A bare place, and inhospitable for many more snowy seasons. I hide – a mere illusion – and envy the crows, free with the wind.
The day I’m laid to rest, wedged among others, above is as dark as below. It’s over.
A crow’s call jolts me. Fresh breeze cools my hot cheek. A widow’s open. I’m a stone in its jamb. Bright sky smiles down.
The unique beauty of each 100-word story is in the way the words are strung together, each one a gem, and in the spaces left between the words, and between sentences. So much can be told with little words. It is a challenge for the writer, and a thrill for the reader (I hope), as each time the tale is read a new detail springs to mind.
This tall house, a lookalike of the one depicted on the 10 Lei Romanian Banknote, comes with a legend about a fire, and about how three villages came to be.
The Tall House of Chiojdu Mic
The tall house we admired at the Village Museum of Bucharest is from Chiojdu Mic village (Little Chiojdu), Buzău County in the historical province of Muntenia, Romania. Muntenia (or Greater Wallachia, or Valachi, or Țara Românească) – where Vlad the Impaler ruled – is the southern part of Romania, where the capital city of Bucharest is also found. I was born in Bucharest, so you can say I’m a girl from Muntenia, a munteancă.
The household above is from the 18th century.
The living quarters (usually two rooms) are all on the first floor, the river-rock foundation is meant for a cool cellars, where fruits are kept throughout winter, as well as the many barrels with țuică (tzuica, a traditional Romanian spirit, 24–65% alcohol by volume, and prepared only from plums.
The four-sided roof is also characteristic for this area. It is made from fir-tree wood, and these traditional wooden roof-tiles are called şiţă in Romanian, and are arranged like fish scales.
You can see a similar house on the 10 Lei Romanian Banknote:
The Legend on a Great Fire and of How a Village Came to be
It was a time when kings grew their empires, and people grew their crops. The Kings with golden crowns and ermine capes of the west, or kings with glass beads and marmot furs of the east – they all dreamed the same fantasy. It was the people, whose hands bled, and whose children needed feeding, who dreamed of nothing else but of a roof over their heads.
That day, when apples were in bloom and farmers blessed their lambs, the army on fast horses, the army with limbs of maces and daggers, with slanted eyes and harsh goat leggings, attacked again. Their lances took without asking. Their torches fed without concern. And what they couldn’t take, they tore apart.
After their retreat, the fire burned for three days. A sprinkle of survivors sat about, waiting. Waiting to mourn and bury their families. Chiojd was one of them. A rich man that very morning, and not my his household, and his sheep, and his grains in the barn, but by the love of his wife and the smiles of his children.
When the last cross went up, Chiojd knew he’d buried his last hope. He turned his back on the ashen shadow of their village and, without looking back, he left. A pup at his heel.
It is said that Chiojd left Transylvania behind and wandered for an entire summer. His feet carried him, his eyes looking without seeing. The pup, now taller, still at his heel.
Until one day when he his feet stopped.
Ahead, sweet hills followed one another. Trees dressed in tender yellows, and hushed reds grew around gentle streams – so unlike the nature he’d known all his life. There, Chiojd build a new home. With time, a new wife appeared in his life. And three children, Big Chiojdu, Little Chiojdu and the girl, Chojdeanca, who later went to found three new villages: Starchiojd, Chiojdu and Chojdeanca.
Fire, a 100-Word Story
I am Life. Contended faces surround me. They need me. Eager hands grab at my elusive energy as I pull away, then withdraw as I boldly approach them. I laugh, and I kindle the spirits around me, light the stars above. They are but my echo. I am Power. My vitality creates all that I see; I am but the sun on this earth. I cook their meals, melt their iron. I, I keep them alive and warm. While feeding myself. Just take what I fancy. Stretch, expand myself out of proportions, as my hunger grows. I am their Death.
On a sliver of land, between the silver crest of Biharia Mountains (Bihor Mountains), and the dark waters of Black Crișul River, homes such as this – mirroring a well established society – smile to the world.
Built in 19th century, the Biharia house was later taken apart piece by piece, transported, and rebuilt at the Village Museum in Bucharest.
I couldn’t find any information on this specific detail, but I am sure that the blue window frames with their wavy lines are inspired by the waters of the Black Crișul River…
… and perhaps by the blue snowed peaks of the Biharia Mountains that often pierce the clouds. The Biharia Mountains are the highest peak in the Western Carpathians.
The river’s name, Crișul, derives from Dacian Krísos, meaning black, word derived from Thracian krs-, kres- meaning colorful. Sometimes the names of a river tell so much about its personality. There are four rivers in the Crișul family: White, Black, Fast and Rocky. I don’t know in which one I’d dare swim 🙂
A rock foundation elevates the house. The front porch has a step, for keeping poultry out, as well as winter’s nasty snowdrifts. For the same reason, the roof is slanted:
Because it was a mountainous area, with fresh water nearby, the rock, wood and clay would have been within easy reach. Luckily. After securing a plot, of course. The extended family would have helped, neighbors too, and the house would have been raised under the watchful eye of a master builder.
Yet a fountain would have been dug first, then an access road, and then only the home.
Imagine building a house such as this, turning it into a home, and leading a thankful life, while enjoying a similar view:
Only that once built the house, as well the land it stood on, entered the family. And it would have been passed on from one generation to the next as the most treasured possession. One that had to be looked after, as a way to honor one’s ancestors.
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South Africans were gifted with surprising snow near Karoo, so I invite you to a Christmas in July with fresh images of snow, a Christmas tree from Bucharest and some magical doors for Thursday Doors.
While we enjoy a morning as sunny as an ice cream up here, near Pretoria, with temperatures of minus 1 degree Celsius (it is winter after all), further in the south of South Africa Antarctic pulses surprised us with snowfall.
These images were taken by members of our (very) extended South African family and we thank them for sharing the magic with us, special thanks to Cobus Pretorius.
Oudtshoorn is a town in the Klein Karoo area of South Africa’s Western Cape, some 1200km south of Pretoria. Karoo is derived from the local Khoisan language, meaning ‘land of thirst.’
One would imagine that mermaids belong to the sea, and their legends are to be forever rocked by waves. It is not so.
Mermaids, Watermeid, are said to inhabit ( have inhabited?) the rock pools between the Klein (Little) and Groot (Great) Karoo. That’s less than 50km from Oudtshoorn, and along the Meiringspoort mountain pass. Here, charming mermaids with alabaster hair cascading over their shoulders snatch, not lure, travelers, pulling them into their underground water holes. And ancient Khoi-San rock paintings still illustrate this legend .
Further up to SwartbergPass (Black Mountain Pass in Afrikaans) the road twists and turns, as these mountains mean business, shielding the Little Karoo to the north.
SwartbergPass is located between Oudtshoorn in the south and Prince Albert in the north. This time, only the bravest shall pass through the foggy snowfall.
A car door covered by a layer of fluffy snow. Hard to resist the urge of tracing a Christmas tree on it, isn’t it?
It reminded me of a past winter holiday we spent in Sighisoara, Romania. Here, a century old house with a dragon emblem on it. I particularly like the glass bricks embedded in its door:
Another winding road, one that’s best to take on foot, as it snakes among medieval homes, and still standing (see the Historical Monument badge on the blue home?) in the upper fortress of Sighisoara:
And since we celebrate surprising snow over Karoo and a Christmas in July, here’s a Christmas tree from Bucharest:
Today the Palace of Agriculture and Domains, the edifice you see above and below was inaugurated in 1895 after the plans of Swiss architect Louis Pierre Blanc, the main building designed in the French Renaissance style. End of 19th century was a time of modernizing Bucharest.
I like this architect quite a bit as he also designed the main building of the University of Medicine and Pharmacy Carol Davila, Bucharest, where I studied (in a different lifetime). And a gorgeous place it is too – down to the basement where the dissection labs were buried.
For Dan Antion’s exciting Thursday Doors – weekly challenge for door lovers from all over the world hosted over on his incredible blog No Facilities.
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Window shutters painted in dreamy blues adorn an authentic house from 1885 Tulcea, that dips its shores in both the Danube and the Black Sea. You can visit it now, on my blog, or at the Village Museum in Bucharest, Romania.
We have a Romanian saying, Omul sfinţeşte locul, in English it carries the same meaning as “a good farmer makes a good farm.”
I spotted the bright blue shutters from afar. I quickened my step. I wanted to know who lived in a house with such cheerful windows, and such treasures painted on its doors. Who were they? What was their story?
They say that one should never start work, or a journey, on a Tuesday for it won’t end well. The year 1654 started on a Tuesday, and it is the year when the great Russian Patriarch Nikon decided to re-examine the church books, for “the Greeks should be followed rather than our own ancients.” The schism that followed affected many during the following century, but especially (as always) the masses. Those who sicked to their old believes, the starovery, were forced to pay higher taxes, wear special clothing that will make them stand out… if not burned at the stake.
I have to pause and draw a parallel between the choice the starovery from the Tsardom of Russia were forced to make in the 17th century and the Romanian population of Transylvania who was forced by Hungarian authorities, during 15th – 16th centuries, to convert to Calvinism, “the true faith.”
Thus, the starovery migrated. Some reached as far as Alaska, others loved the serene land around the Danube and, being fishermen by skill and having the sea in their blood, settled in Dobruja, Dobrogea, at the beginning of the 18th century. Today they are known as Lipovans, or Flipovans(after their leader’s name).
The Lipovans brought along their personal style, the men wearing long beards, the women dressed in bright reds, greens and blues, like the feathers of the birds, and the spring shoots, and the ripples of the rivers.
Do you see the thatched roof? The way it extends low over the narrow porch? They are distinctive architectural features, as are the wavy eaves:
The house, built as a home in 1885, came to the Village Museum (piece by piece and reassembled here) from the Jurilovca village, siting at the mouth of Razelm Lake – a freshwater lagoon on the shores of the Black Sea in Tulcea County, Romania.
The Lipovans who lived here painted the tree of life, “as in Heaven, so on earth“, on their door:
Originally painted in 1885, perhaps as a blessing on the threshhold of their new life, in a new land, and a new home:
And because it meant so much to them, the Lipovans painted it again. I like the wavy movement of the greenery depicted above and how the flowers appear to sway in the breeze.
The Symbology behind the Tree of Life – Art in Romanian Folklore, Patterns
The tree of life can be spotted painted on a door, such as above. But more often we glance upon a diminutive symbol of it (such as the branch of a fir tree, flowers in a pot, shoots of wheat or rye, or mere leaves), be it carved on the wooden pillar of a home, on a piece pottery, or embroidered by hand in a Romanian peasant blouse, ia.
The tree of life, or its symbols, they all stand for the biblical image of Jesus Christ, and of the His everlasting spirit.
The leaves, symbolize immortality and resurrection.
It is a cheerful house, and I hope the Lipovans led a happy life in their new home in Tulcea County, Dobruja, by the Black Sea.