The Merry Cemetery of Sapanta – Another Kind of Cemetery

Image Credit:  Hilaryjoyh/Flickr

Image Credit: Hilaryjoyh/Flickr

The Merry Cemetery of Sapanta project was initiated by Stan Ioan Pastras and it was included in the top unique cemeteries in the world. In this place death is mocked and everything is cheerful. Any other resting place in the world is usually sad and dignified, but here the epitaphs on the crosses stir laughter.

It is located in Sapanta town, Maramures county, Romania and it is famous for its beautifully colored crosses. The naive drawings depicts moments from the life and occupation of the buried person. On some of the crosses lyrics remind of some of the things the person went through. The most visited ones are “Crucea cu Soacra” and “Mort de Moarte Fortata” literally meaning “The Mother’s In Law Cross” and “I died because Death forced me”.

Stan Ioan Patras was an anonymous sculptor back in 1935, but he was the first one to carve an epitaph on one of the crosses. Since then over 800 oak crosses that depict peoples lives were added. After his death the tradition was continued by his apprentice Dumitru Pop Tincu.

On the top of the cross a scene from the life of the deceased is carved, capturing a moment related to his past. The sculpture is often naive, childlike technically, but interesting and ingenious in context. Women spinning wool, weaving carpets, baking bread or country men, singing, etc. Under the carving written humorous verses are usually found.

Image Credit:  Gregorta/Flickr

Image Credit: Gregorta/Flickr

All the crosses are painted with powerful, vibrant colours: red, green, yellow and white. For the background a blue known as “Sapanta Blue” is used. It’s hard to define if Sapanta is a merry or sad place, but the place is surely a must see. People are saying that the merry mood towards death is an ancient Dacian custom who believed that death is only a way towards the world of the supreme god Zamolxes. For the Dacians death was an occasion of joy, not sadness.

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