Passing through wood-carved gates, such as the Maramures or the Szeklers gates is a memorable experiences, as I discovered during the research for my latest book, Dreamland.
The Szeklers’ Gates
Who were the Szeklers (or the Székelys)?
“After Attila’s death in 453 the Hun Empire crumbled. The Huns who reached eastern Transylvania organized themselves in “seats”, szekely, meaning those who are organized in seats.
“The Szeklers Gates, found at the yard’s entrance, have three pillars and a girder beam above on which a dove cote is found, with a shingles roof. They have wood carvings, especially flowers, and are always painted.
“The Szekler Gates, as important any family member, represent the crowning jewel of the Szekler house. When building such a gate the trees that are cut are perceived as receiving new life because the Szekler gate is integrated within the human existence, its wood carver pouring his soul into sculpting it, then into engraving God’s name through gentle and pious artwork.”
(From “Dreamland, Banat, Crisana, Maramures, Transylvania, 100-WORD STORIES, Folklore and History” by Patricia Furstenberg).
Here is a beautifully painted Szekler Gate:
The Maramures Gates
Where is Maramures? At the very north of Romania one would be so lucky if travelling there, as to discover Maramures, a historical, cultural and geographical region of Romania.
“The Maramures Gates are one of the most precious symbols of Maramures Country. Built out of oak or sessile wood and standing on three pillars, the gates have a girder beam and, above it, a roof covered with shingles. Often, the Maramures Gates have been compared to triumphal arches. Maybe because for the local peasants passing under such a gate was a ceremonial act, the man mentally purifying himself of the evils of profane world he came from, in order to enter cleanly into the domestic universe of his household and his family. In all traditional cultures, the passage under a gate, more or less grandiose, symbolizes a transformation.
“Many historians claim that, in Maramures, the gates were a privilege of the nemes (a local, but richer family). The peasant families could only afford a gate of smaller proportions and with less woodwork called vranita.”
(From my latest book, Dreamland).
Details on a wood-carved Maramures gate:
Apart from the Maramures Gates and the and Szeklers Gates I was long fascinated with so I featured them in Dreamland, there are a few other wooden carved doors / gates that I’d like to show you.
One feels quite humble walking underneath. No pushing through. One at a time. And there’s time, here, to enjoy the single moment of stepping through this carved gate. You become aware of the space around you, of the greatness of he gate, of the stories it speaks about. To you.
Wood-carvings close-up of a different, simpler wooden gate:
The peasant families could only afford a gate of smaller proportions and with less woodwork called vranita:
Woodworking emanates such warmth. It is art that can be admired with the eye and the fingertips. These wooden gates, be it Maramures carved or Szeklers (carved and) painted or the imposant gates to Brancoveanu Monastery (below) maintain a connection with the immortal forest they came from. Their wood still whispers in the wind and it still carries the scent of the rain, the wind, the sun’s kiss and the moonlight’s caress.
For Dan Antion’s exciting Thursday Doors weekly challenge.