Through the Maramures and the Szeklers Gates, in Dreamland, for Thursday Doors

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:

a painted Szekler Gate
A richly 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:

Maramures Szeklers Gates Dreamland, a richly wooden carved Maramures gate that a nemes, richer peasant, could afford
A richly wooden carved Maramures gate that a nemes, richer peasant, could afford.

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.

A gorgeous wooden gate from Village Museum, Bucharest, although not as big as the gate featured on this blog post’s featured image:

small carved gate with a roof, woodwork Romania
small carved gate with a roof, woodwork Romania

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:

column sun zig-zag door carving
Carving details on a wood gate: columns, sun, zig-zag, at Village Museum.

The peasant families could only afford a gate of smaller proportions and with less woodwork called vranita:

Maramures Szeklers Gates Dreamland, The peasant families could only afford a gate of smaller proportions and with less woodwork called vranita
A smaller gate, a 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.

entrance gate Brancoveanu Monastery, Maramures Gate style
The entrance gate to Brancoveanu Monastery, Maramures Gate style

For Dan Antion’s exciting Thursday Doors weekly challenge.

20 Replies to “Through the Maramures and the Szeklers Gates, in Dreamland, for Thursday Doors”

  1. These are wonderful gates and doorways, Patricia. I enjoyed reading the history and the cultural significance you included. Thank you for that. I am fascinated by the joinery detail in the bottom gate. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a brace cut into the structure in that manner. I have your new book, and it’s rising up in my to-be-read pile.

    1. The carpenter in you, I see that now, Dan 🙂
      The reason for wooden joinery is to avoid all source of rust that will undermine the future safety of the structure. Also, the gates are carved in segments and then reassembled on the spot. It is a fascinating process.

  2. It is the first time that I have heard of these most beautiful Maramures Gates or Szeklers Gates, Patricia, and their story and I just would like to thank you for having them presented. 🙂

    1. Dear Martina, there seems to be a glitch and I can’t comment on your website.
      With regards to your last post, “Zwei bemerkenswerte Frauen « von Tracy Chevalier”, I wanted to say:

      I will look up this book, “Remarkable Creatures” by Tracy Chevalier.
      How filled with possibility were the times when being “self- made” was still a possible thing and no one minded that you had no other credentials, but your passion and your self-acquire knowledge. 🙂
      I hope your family is strong. Wishing you all the very best.

      1. Dear Patricia, thank you so much for these absolutely trueful words to which I would maybe add perseverance despite difficulties!
        Concerning the problems with our sites, I have them also with your site. I can’t, for example, send you a comment in answer to the email, which arrives after your publishing a post. I have to go to the “reader” and then it seems to work.
        Many thanks also to your good wishes:)

        1. Thank you for letting me know, Martina.

          This morning I discovered having the same issue with Masticadores Romania. Can’t post comment, can only reply.

          I’ll have a look at WP updates and such!

          Have a blessed weekend.

      2. Dear Patricia, thank you so much for these absolutely trueful words to which I would maybe add perseverance despite difficulties!
        Concerning the problems with our sites, I have them also with your site. I can’t for example send you a comment in answer to the email, which arrives after your publishing a post. I have to go on the “reader” and then it seems to work.
        Many thanks also to your good wishes:)

  3. The gates are beautiful and so significant to the culture. The carving and workmanship are outstanding. Even the simpler ones have an impressive character. Thanks for always sharing such interesting facts to enlighten your readers. I enjoy it! 🙂

  4. These ancient wooden gates and doors are really beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your findings, Patricia. It must be really interesting discovering all this while doing research for a book.

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