The Vaser Valley – Passage Back in Time

For the tourist who made it all the way into the historical land of Maramureș, another surprise is discreetly awaiting: the travel back in time in the very heart of nature. This time around, the props are not man but nature made. It is not the old wooden houses in picturesque villages or the people’s garbs like those that the Dacians wore two millennia ago. Instead it is perhaps what may still be the wildest and most beautiful landscape in Romania – and this is not for the lack of competition.

Vaser Valley, Valea Vaserului, Maramures, Romania, Transylvania, mocanita, mocănița, Maramureș, Transilvania, wood, railway, Viseu, Vișeu, Claudiu Moldovan, woods, locomotives,

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Teodor Bârsan of the Bârsana village – Maramures’ foremost wooden cross carver

Perhaps nobody else embodies more fully the traditional wood carving craftsmanship of Maramureş than Teodor Bârsan of the Bârsana village. It may be no coincidence that his talent flourished in a village which has more wood carvers than any other village in Maramureş: Bârsana is strewn with beautifully carved old wooden gates and numerous wooden houses and boasting two wooden churches one being on UNESCO’s World Heritage List and the other one being one of the most beautiful monasteries of Maramureş.

Teodor Bârsan, Barsan, Barsana, Maramures, Transylvania, wood carver, artist, living human treasure, people, arts, crafts, traditions, troite, gate, old, UNESCO, World Heritage, traditii, scultura, lemn, traditional, artist
Teodor Bârsan carving with his son Ioan

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Gavrilă Hotico-Herenta – Church maker, restorer and above all, Man

I thanked Saint Peter for finding Gavrilă Hotico-Herenta at home in his Ieud village – it was 29th June and work across all villages of Maramureş was grounded to a halt in observance of one of the most important religious festivities of the year. Otherwise, it would have been impossible to get hold of him, as it is several decades now that he moves between various sites across Romania, which his wife can attest.

Gavrilă Hotico-Herenta, Gavrila Hotico Herenta, Ieud, Maramures, Romania, traditions, artists, traditional, Transylvania, wood carver, church, wood church, restorer, old, traditions, UNESCO, Living Human Treasure
Wooden cross – troiță – in front of the Greek-Catholic church in the Dragomirești Village, built by Gavrilă Hotico-Herenta

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Tănase Burnar – Dacian pottery is well and alive and the maker is in the Săcel village

 In Săcel, another wonder has survived the centuries: unglazed, red ceramic pottery. It is the only place in Romania where unglazed red pottery is still produced. The family of Tănase Burnar of Săcel has been making ceramic ware for more than eleven generations. The technique is the same as the one in the prehistoric La Tène period in Dacia, using a very unique, greasy type of clay found in the area at 12 to 15 meters depth in the hills near the village.

Tanase Burnar, Sacel, Maramures, Pottery, Traditions, people, living treasures, old, ceramics, Transylvania, Romania, Transilvania, Săcel, Maramureș, olarit, ceramica, ceramica nesmaltuita, caramică nesmălțuită
Tănase Burnar working in his workshop in the Săcel Village

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Ion Bledea – where raw talent meets wood carving

Ion Bledea is not a typical sculptor. He does not have a formal education in sculpting and his starting point is rather humble. He began his ascension to fame in the halls of the artistic section of Sighetu Marmaţiei’s main furniture factory, some 35 years ago, during communist times.

Ioan Bledea, Ion Bledea, wood carver, sculptor, artist, Sighetu Marmatiei, Maramures, Romania, Transylvania, people, crafts, living treasures, sculptor, Sighetu Marmatiei, Sighetu Marmației
Ion Bledea carving at his former workshop abutting the Roman Catholic Church in Sighetu Marmației

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Godja Pătru Pupăză of Valea Stejarului – a fable like character, wood carver and maker of all things small and big

Godja Pătru Pupăză from Valea Stejarului (once a standalone village, now part of Sighetu Marmaţiei) is renowned for his wood carving skills  one can see his wood-made commemorative crosses, the troiţe, in many Romanian communities abroad. Besides crosses and gates, he creates small decorative objects, which impress through craftsmanship. 

Godja Patru Pupaza, Valea Stejarului, Sighetu Marmatiei, wood carving, artist, artisan, crafts, traditions, people, living treasures, Maramures, Transylvania, Romania, sculpting, troita, wood crosses, wood gates
I first met the artist Godja Pătru Pupăză at Tânjaua de la Hoteni back in 2009. Here he is pictured with his magic staff which hides a narrow neck bottle of pălinca in its upper end

The Last Living Museum of Europe

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