I made this interview of Teodor Bârsan in his workshop, back in October 2005. The digital video technique – and especially the one I had in my hands at the time was not the best. But that matters not, as you will still be able to feel who Teodor Bârsan is and how he carves the beautiful things – small and large – that he does. For a small portrait of Bârsan, please also visit this link.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nicolae and Maria Pipaş need no introduction in the art loving circles. The initiated traveling to Sighetu Marmaţiei spares no effort to visit the Pipaş Museum, truly a collection of several museums, an impressive repository of old traditional art of Maramureş, of works by prominent Romanian painters and engravers, of carpets, ceramics, furniture, lace and more.