Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Some of the most sublime features in our region of Romania are the painted monasteries of Bucovina. Back in July we visited the Voroneț Monastery, built in 1488, during the reign of Ștefan cel Mare. The exterior paintings were done during his son's reign in the mid 1500s. The west wall is the most amazing, in its nearly perfect state of preservation. The paint itself is only a fraction of a millimeter thick, and the beautiful blue color cannot be exactly reproduced to this day. The recipe for Voroneț blue and the explanation for its preserved state are both deep mysteries. Some might even call them miracles. The west wall tells the story of judgement day. You can see the white, Christian Romanians going to heaven, and the dark-skinned Islamic Turks being judged harshly. In fact the monastery was built to celebrate a successful battle in the region. There are many parts of this fresco that I do not understand. There are animals who look like they have eaten humans, with body parts hanging out of their mouths. There are people dressed in something like a mummy wrap in square boxes or boats. There is a scene with an octopus and a whale, with a giant human holding a large ship. There is also a curious mixture of astrology with zodiac symbols across the top of the scene. This single fresco seems rich enough in its symbolism for a PhD thesis. Something to do after the Peace Corps?