REFERAT ENGLEZA:THE SEAL ENGRAVER

Publicat: 12 Oct 2008 00:00

The Seal EngraverApparently an insignificant object, usually made of wood (or marble), but kept with piety by maidens in their dowry chest"among the stacked pieces of flowery cloths perfumed with basil and lavender" kept in "little white linen bags". It used only by women for marking the ritual bread (wafers and Easter pound cake), on holidays, but it may become, in our view, one of the brands of cultural resistance of which the inhabitants of Maramures could be proud.Bearing different names (pecetar, prescornicer or prostornic), this cultic object used to be found in each household in the villages of the Iza, Mara, and Cosau valleys. Though it has been forgotten or got degraded, luckily three important collections have been preserved: those of the brothers Victor and Iuliu Pop, and that of the priest from Breb, Mircea Antal, whose collection has been included recently in the heritage of the Baia Mare Ethnographic and Folk Art Museum.The seal engravers are usually between 10-20 cm.In height and are composed of two parts: the inferior part resembles a pedestal in the form of a parallelepiped or a pyramid trunk with an incised religious text IC-XC-NI-KA or IS-NS-NI-KA meaning "Jesus Christ`s victory over death". The wafers bear the seal of the sacred letters, in a ritual gesture "between prayer and the work sanctified by the sealing of the bread" (Ion Iuga, 1993). The upper part can be grouped in two distinct categories: "those with the decorative motifs and forms connected to the Christian rites roadside crosses or a stylized crucifix and those with a definitely secular character".These cultic objects have a strong tendency towards abstraction. Almost each piece is unique. Some have the form of columns, resembling Brancusi`s endless column or Henry Moore`s sculptures.Despite their miniature sizes, the collections of seal engravers are genuine works of art due to their superior forms: solar rosettes (Cuhea), wheat ears,"1877" obelisk, sandglass (Rona de Jos), Aztec staircase pyramid (Sacel), Thai tower, Brancusi`s "Maiastra Bird" (an astounding likeness), the Endless Column, the King of Kings (18th century), "the Chair of the Venerable Maris from Ieud" (identical with the chairs around the Table of Silence), or church steeples (see Romulus Pop, Galsul pecetarelor, 1993).A seal engraver from Moisei was carved to look like a helmet with four little towers, very much alike the gothic steeples from the historical Land of Maramures. There are seal engravers with their three arms joined by a semicircle and the three arms transferred inside it, while others resemble the border stones from Maramures.Sometimes the seal engravers show a naively carved human figure with evident disproportions, but the most frequent theme is that of the crucifixion, treated in an unconventional manner.The seal engravers are distinguished by their creator`s capacity to synthesize and join the symbolism of agrarian rites (wheat ear, flour), and the art of gastronomy (wafers), religious beliefs (the theme of crucifixion and the inscriptions on the basis) and the art of woodwork. But all these would remain unobserved if the final product had not been enriched with small art works, which would flatter the pride of any consecrated artist. Constantin Brancusi considered it a title of glory to promote worldwide with his work motifs and forms originating from the Romanian folk art, forms known and used by the peasants from Maramures when making their seal engravers to be kept in the maidens` dowry chests, among the basil and lavender scented cloths...

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