CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE:
[Also see my page on Hungary
/ Transylvania, since many issues I raise here initially began on that
Further, see the Central & Eastern Europe Portal Page --
it has significant links to the whole region, especially two that explore the historical reasons
behind the West's tragic dismembering of this region.]
From Dracula Tour
26 August 2000 --
I have been working most of the past week on my Hungary / Transylvania page, but the deeper I dug, the more I realized how interwoven these two countries are, especially when it comes to Transylvania, which both claim. Thus, I must continue with a page for Romania....
Unlike the Hungarians, as far as we can tell, the peoples who would later be known as Romanians, arrived in Europe as shepherds, not warriors. They were a peaceful nomadic people, caring for their own flocks as well as the herds of others. To the many rulers of the lands in which they lived, they were simply serfs, easily overlooked. As one musicologist has noted: Hungarians dance in boots, Romanians dance in sandals. Romanians are a quiet, earthy, smiling people who have suffered much but have never been broken.
As with so many peoples of Central and East Europe, history has not been kind to the Romanians. When they gain the upper hand, they in turn have not been kind; and when they have lost that power, they suffer all over again.
Oppress or be oppressed: it is an endless cycle in regions of the world where differences in religion, speech, appearance, economic status, or access to power cause one side to victimize the other, until circumstances swing to the other extreme, as they always do, sooner or later, and the victims become the victors. One could say that this is simply human nature. I think it is more correct to say that it is the nature of patriarchal power structures: dehumanize or be dehumanized; demonize or be demonized; hurt or be hurt. (For more of my thoughts on such issues, see my two Kosovo/Serbian pages.)
Romanians have been victims more often than they have been victors, and it is difficult not to wish them well as they struggle back from so many dark, troubled years under their most recent dictator, a man who re-wrote history, claiming past glories that never existed while ignoring the simple beauties and strong hearts that did exist, and will always exist, proudly, wisely, compassionately....
Transylvanian Shepherd in Winter
Photo © Stephen Spinder and used with his kind permission.
This is "Romania -- A Country Study" from the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. It looks at all aspects of the country, including geography, a confusing history (ancient and modern), society, economics, politics, transportation, military -- everything except the arts. Here is a relevant excerpt from one of the History sections:http://www.lib.msu.edu/sowards/balkan/lect08.htm...Romanians descend from the Dacians, an ancient people who fell under Rome's dominance in the first century A.D., intermarried with Roman colonists, and adopted elements of Roman culture, including a Vulgar Latin that evolved into today's Romanian. Barbarian tribes forced the Romans out of Dacia in 271. In the eleventh century the Magyars, the ancestors of today's Hungarians, settled the mountainous heart of ancient Dacia, Transylvania. Hungarian historians claim that Transylvania was almost uninhabited when the Magyars arrived; Romanians, however, assert that their ancestors remained in Transylvania after Rome's exodus and that Romanians constitute the region's aboriginal inhabitants. This disagreement was the germ of a conflict that poisoned relations between Romanians and Hungarians throughout the twentieth century.Here is another from the Transylvania, Walachia, Moldavia section for the 11th to the 17th centuries:
...For thousands of years, Romania suffered from an unfortunate location astride the invasion routes of migrating hordes and the frontiers of ambitious empires that plundered its wealth and enslaved its people. For centuries Transylvania, with its repressed Romanian majority, was a semi-autonomous part of Hungary. Romanians fleeing Transylvania founded the independent principalities of Walachia and Moldavia in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.......No written or architectural evidence bears witness to the presence of "proto-Romanians" in the lands north of the Danube during the millennium after Rome's withdrawal from Dacia. This fact has fueled a centuries-long feud between Romanian and Hungarian historians over Transylvania. The Romanians assert that they are the descendants of Latin-speaking Dacian peasants who remained in Transylvania after the Roman exodus, and of Slavs who lived in Transylvania's secluded valleys, forests, and mountains, and survived there during the tumult of the Dark Ages. Romanian historians explain the absence of hard evidence for their claims by pointing out that the region lacked organized administration until the twelfth century and by positing that the Mongols destroyed any existing records when they plundered the area in 1241. Hungarians assert, among other things, that the Roman population quit Dacia completely in 271, that the Romans could not have made a lasting impression on Transylvania's aboriginal population in only two centuries, and that Transylvania's Romanians descended from Balkan nomads who crossed northward over the Danube in the thirteenth century and flowed into Transylvania in any significant numbers only after Hungary opened its borders to foreigners....
From Twenty-Five Lectures on Modern Balkan History comes "Lecture 8: National revival in Romania, 1848-1866," by Steven W. Sowards, Reference Head of the Main Library at Michigan State University. It is detailed, lucid, exhaustive, brilliant, and filled with depressing dirty politics, made the more so because, with the advantage of hindsight, we know where it all ends decades later. I highly recommend this site. As is said so often, yet not often enough, those unaware of their history are doomed to repeat it. That's a risk we cannot afford to take again.http://www.heritagefilms.com/Romania.htm
From Heritage Films comes a very brief page on the geography and general history of Romania. There's a link to a map (not very good), but what makes this Heritage site uniquely interesting is the link to their lengthy "Jewish History of Romania." Here I found details ignored elsewhere -- for example, the Jewish presence in the controversial issue of Dacia:RUMANIA (Rum. Romania), republic in N.E. Balkan peninsula, S.E. Europe. The territory of present-day Rumania was known as Dacia in antiquity; Jewish tombstones dating from early times have been found there. The Jews may have come as merchants or in other capacities with the Roman legions which garrisoned the country from 101 C.E. Early missionary activity in Dacia may have been due to the existence of Jewish groups there. Later the Khazars dominated parts of Dacia for a short time. The region was close enough to Byzantium for some contact with its Jewry to be assumed. Another wave of Jewish immigrants spread through Walachia (a Rumanian principality founded around 1290) after they had been expelled from Hungary in 1367. In the 16th century some refugees from the Spanish expulsion came to Walachia from the Balkan peninsula....There is much more of interest here, much is quite sobering. (Note: the site spills over the margins of my browser, which necessitates horizontal scrolling, line by line [I've e-mailed to ask if this can be upgraded]. Nevertheless, despite the distraction, I found it worth the effort.)
For more on early missionary efforts from the Hungarian point of view, see, among other sites: http://hungaria.org/articles/article.php?articleid=22 from my Hungary / Transylvania page.
BBC Radio on Romania
This is a short and sweet Romanian creation story involving God, a mole, and a bee. Myths in which a confused God needs advice from other beings are common in Eastern Europe and parts of the Indo-Iranian Middle East and form an interesting compensatory counterpoint to more familiar stories of an omnipotent deity's creation (see M. P. Dragomanov, Notes on the Slavic Religio-Ethical Legends: The Dualistic Creation of the World, Indiana University Publications / Russian & East European Series, vol. 23; 1961).http://lapd.cj.edu.ro/iearn/projects/Eclipsa99/SecondPhase/eclipsa2.htm
This is a great project by two Romanian highschool students created to mark the 11 August 1999 total eclipse of the sun, which passed directly over Romania. In addition to dramatic photos taken of the eclipse, the page includes two Romanian sky myths. First, "ROMANIAN SKY MYTH," collected and published by Ion Ottescu in 1907. Here is how it begins (notice how it blames a woman, whose role is very different from Eve's):
After the world’s creation, the Sky and the Earth were very close together. But man was indifferent, and did not understand this divine generosity (God’s counsel being good under any conditions). Man’s indifference was so pronounced that one day a woman threw a child’s stained nappy into the sky - though fortunately, it did not actually touch the sky. God became very upset at this, and removed himself and the Sky far away from the Earth....The woman was the culprit, for the woman has "a long dress and a short mind"....Man soon becomes lonely without God so he leaves Woman and Child and sets off for the sky, taking with him objects represented by a "Who's Who" of constellations (e.g., a big chariot and a little chariot, oxen, a big dog and a little dog, an axe, a fountain, a cross, a lamp, etc. --- the many constellations are carefully detailed in the tale)....He also took seeds and wheat to till and sow in the sky’s fields for his future food....Clearly, he plans to spend a long time up there. Along the way, he has to battle the Devil (the constellations take sides in this great battle -- Man's side wins and the Devil shrinks). According to the myth, Man's still out there in space, hunting for God, and traveling along the Milky Way (a bucket of milk got spilled during the battle and turned the road white).
The tale has great charm on one level. On a deeper level, the earth, the man's woman, and the man's child with its "nappies" (or diapers) are all shown as disturbingly insignificant. This is a Hero's Quest writ large as Man shuns earth entirely to seek for a God sulking among the stars (of course, a deity likely to be offended by a baby's nappy should have thought twice before designing a baby who'd need one). Woman stays behind to take care of the mess made by Man and God. Sound familiar? <wry smile>
The second tale is the brief, touching Romanian national myth-ballad "Miorita" ("The Little Ewe"). It looks at:...the ancient Dacian ritual of periodically sacrificing the best young man as a good herald for the supreme god Zamolxe.... In essence, this myth compares death with a cosmic wedding.I like this page and hope you'll take a look.
[See directly below]
This is a page from the Romanian Cultural Foundation Publishing House. They offer an impressive list of books translated into English. Three books especially caught my eye: this is Andrei Oisteanu's (1999) COSMOS vs. CHAOS. Myth and magic in Romanian Traditional Culture:The book represents an attempt to reconstruct a pre- and proto-Romanian mythology. The author considers several mythic themes and motifs ("Stealing of the Stars", "The Romanian Legend of the Flood", "The Language of Angels" etc) that have so far been given little or no attention or have been dealt with from different points of view....This is Ofelia Vaduva's (1999) STEPS TOWARDS THE SACRED. From the Ethnology of Romanian Food Habits:...This book deals with the ritual practices where food hold pride of place, and may be considered attempts at reaching the sacred, exceeding religious experience and entering man's everyday life. At the same time, they may be perceived as small steps on an imaginary road, towards the pure and mysterious world of the deities and forebears, in order to get acquainted with their intentions and to propitiate them.Finally, this is Gail Kligman's (1999) CALUS. Symbolic Transformation in Romanian Ritual (with a foreword by Mircea Eliade). The book explores the Calus, an ancient Romanian dance. (Also related to folklore are books on Vlad The Impaler, Romanian Carols, and a general introduction to Romanian Folk-Culture. There are many books on history and literature as well.)
This award-winning site from Marguerite L. M. Wolf features her re-tellings and illustrations for three Romanian fairytales: Prince Charming the Golden-haired, The Golden Stag, and the Old Man's Daughter (a Cinderella variant with a wise cow instead of a fairy godmother). The tales and drawings are lovely.http://www.deproverbio.com/DPbooks/EROM/dictionary.html
Proverbs are a subcategory under the general field of "Folklore." This is an interesting and lengthy page giving Romanian translations for proverbs common to English speakers. The range is impressive. I'm fascinated by the fact that there are so many cross-cultural equivalents in existence.
[From Professor Elizabeth Miller's site -- see below for a series of her pages]
This is "Vlad Dracula, An intriguing figure in the fifteenth century" by Benjamin H. Leblanc (a M.Sc. Student, Sociology of Religion at the University of Montreal, Canada). It is a chilling look at the cunning Romanian prince who is now better known as "Count Dracula":http://members.aol.com/atamas/transylvania.htm...We all have an idea of who or what the Count is. However, on the other hand, Vlad Tepes Dracula, the historical figure who inspired Bram Stoker for his novel, is definitely less known. The centennial of the gothic masterpiece provides us with a good pretext to dive back into the life of this machiavellian fifteenth century leader - an initiative that will enable us to better appreciate the work of Stoker....The author provides vivid details about the life of Vlad. He ruled the Romanian province of Wallachia, by the way, not Transylvania (north of Wallachia). Transylvania was actually the site of his lengthy imprisonment under a Hungarian king:...According to the legend, this is when Dracula's wife, in order to escape Turkish capture, committed suicide by hurling herself from the upper battlements, her body falling down the precipice into the river below - a scene exploited by Francis Ford Coppola's production. Vlad, who was definitely not the kind of man to kill himself, managed to escape the siege of his fortress by using a secret passage into the mountain. Helped by some peasants of the Arefu village, he was able to reach Transylvania where he met the new king of Hungary, Matthias Corvinus. However, instead of providing some help, Matthias arrested Dracula and imprisoned him at the Hungarian capital of Visegrad. It was not until 1475 that Vlad was again recognized as the prince of Wallachia, enjoying a very short third reign. In fact, he was assassinated toward the end of December 1476....The author also looks at the Dracula legend in today's Romania:...Today, as Romania opens itself to the tourism industry, many "Dracula Tours" are being offered throughout the country. Two months ago, the author of this article attended one of them, organized by Bravo Group and designed by the Transylvanian Society of Dracula. This particular Tour includes the most important historical places related with Vlad Tepes, such as 15th century town of Sighisoara - Vlad's birth place; the Snagov Monastery - where, according to legend, Vlad is said to have been buried after his assassination; Castle Bran - which has been in the past erroneously described by officials of the Romanian Tourist Ministry as Castle Dracula; the Poenari fortress; the village of Arefu - where many Dracula legends are still told; the city of Brasov - where Vlad led raids against the German Saxons; and, of course, Curtea Domneasca - Dracula's palace in Bucharest. The Tour also covers the folklorical aspects of the fictional Dracula. For instance, one will find oneself eating the meal Jonathan Harker ate at The Golden Crown in Bistrita, and sleeping at Castle Dracula Hotel - built no so long ago on the Borgo Pass, approximately where the fictional castle of the Count is supposed to be....The article offers bibliographic references at the end for those interested in exploring further.
This is another site on Vlad, "Transylvania Legend," by Andrei Tamas, a graphics-rich page oriented towards a younger audience (two of the illustrations are quite graphic -- one is the impalement scene below). There is also an interesting and useful vampire chronology starting in the 11th century and moving through the many books, TV programs, and movies of the 20th century. Here is where it all begins:http://www.catherders.net/Transy/9Legends.htm [Broken internal links -- keep trying as the webmaster intends to fix these.]1047: First appearance of the word "upir" (an early form of the word later to become "vampire") in a document referring to a Russian prince as "Upir Lichy", or wicked vampire....
These are re-tellings of nine legends associated with Dracula. Currently
(4 September 2001), none of the internal links to the stories work but when the webmaster finds time, he'll restore these. (See near the bottom of my page for data on his home page.)
Portrait of Vlad Dracula
[Found on multiple sites]
The next group of links come from an international expert on Vlad and vampire lore, Elizabeth Miller, Professor of English at Memorial University of Newfoundland. This brief page is "Bats, Vampires, and Dracula."http://www.ucs.mun.ca/~emiller/rwbdinn.htmEver wonder which came first -- the bat or the vampire? How did bats become so associated with Count Dracula that the poor maligned creatures are forced to lurk in the recesses of twentieth-century popular culture? Is it all the fault of that Irish writer Bram Stoker and his novel DRACULA (1897)?....
...While the first film based on DRACULA, "Nosferatu" (1922) did not use bats (here the connection was with rats), the 1931 classic Universal Studios "Dracula" starring Bela Lugosi certainly did. This was the movie that provided the twentieth century with its most memorable and lasting images of Count Dracula (including the bats), images that survive to this very day....
This is "A Dracula Smorgasbord" by Elizabeth Miller -- a light-hearted look at a multitude of themes connected with Dracula and vampires in history, lore, literature, and film. The piece is taken from an after-dinner speech for members of the President's Council on Opening Night of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's world premiere of "Dracula" on 21 October, 1997. It reads fast and well. I especially enjoyed the hilarious sections near the end where this professor discusses the reactions she gets from people who discover she's an expert on vampires. Don't miss this one! <smile>
On a far more serious note, this is Elizabeth Miller's lengthy, careful, graphically detailed essay on the history of Vlad the Impaler. A major event in Vlad's childhood caught my eye as an influence on much that followed:http://www.ucs.mun.ca/~emiller/kalo.htm...To ensure the reliability of Dracul's support, the Sultan required that two of his sons -- Vlad and Radu -- be held in Turkey as guarantees that he would actively support Turkish interests. The two boys may have spent up to six years under this precarious arrangement. Young Vlad would have been about eleven years old at the time of the internment, while Radu would have been about seven. It appears that they were held for part of the time at the fortress of Egregoz, located in western Anatolia, and later moved to Sultan Murad's court at Adrianople. The younger brother Radu, a handsome lad who attracted the attention of the future sultan, fared better than Vlad, a factor that helps explain the bitter hatred and rivalry that developed between the brothers later. Apparently, no serious physical harm came to the boys during these years of captivity, though the psychological impact on Vlad is difficult to assess. After their subsequent release in 1448, Radu chose to remain in Turkey. But Vlad returned to Wallachia to find that his father had been assassinated and his older brother Mircea buried alive by the nobles of Târgoviste who had supported a rival claimant....Childhood abuse, as is well known, often leads to the victim's savage desire for revenge in adulthood. Certainly, many Turks were among those Vlad executed by impalement.
Miller looks further at what is known of Vlad's life and legend. Among the known facts is that King Matthias of Hungary provided him with a royal relative as Vlad's second wife. With this Hungarian wife, Vlad had two children (Miller explores the Hungarian as well as the Romanian line of his descendants). King Matthias also imprisoned him (see earlier link above as well as Miller's). Much else about his life is not known, however, and there are many contradictions:...Though Vlad was to reign for less than seven years, his reputation throughout Europe was widespread. There are several primary sources of information, which offer a variety of representations, from Vlad as a cruel, even psychopathic tyrant to Vlad as a hero who put the needs of his country above all else. Consequently, it is a virtually impossible task to reconstruct his political and military activities with certainty....Miller looks at his title, The Impaler, and writes:...Impalement was an especially sadistic means of execution, as victims would suffer excruciating pain for hours, even days, until death came. It appears that Vlad was determined at times to administer it in ways that would ensure the longest possible period of suffering for the victim. While impalement was his punishment of choice, Vlad apparently employed other equally tortuous ways of dispensing with opponents....After considering his other tortures (this isn't pleasant reading), she concludes:...Whatever Vlad might have been, nowhere is it stated that he was (or was believed to have been) a vampire. While some of early negative reports aligned Vlad with the devil (playing on the alternative meaning of "dracul"), this was not a vampiric association. The word "vampire" was never used in connection with Vlad until long after Bram Stoker's novel appeared and it became popular to assume (incorrectly) that Vlad was Stoker's inspiration for his vampire Count. [The exact nature of this "connection" is discussed elsewhere on this site.]....
This page, taken from Elizabeth Miller's introduction to a novel on vampires, Lord of the Vampires by Jeanne Kalogridis (1997), is the Bram Stoker "connection" mentioned in the excerpt directly above. As always, Miller's approach is intriguing and engaging.http://www.ucs.mun.ca/~emiller/DragOrd.htm
This is Elizabeth Miller's brief page on the famous Order of the Dragon so intimately connected with Vlad and his father:Http://www.ucs.mun.ca/~emiller/jds.htmThe Order of the Dragon (German "Drachenordens" and Latin "Societatis draconistrarum") was an institution, similar to other chivalric orders of the time, modelled on the Order of St George (1318). It was created in 1408 by the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund (while he was still king of Hungary) and his queen Barbara Cilli, mainly for the purpose of gaining protection for the royal family....
...In 1431, Sigismund summoned to the city of Nuremberg a number of princes and vassals that he considered useful for both political and military alliances. His primary objective was to initiate the group into the Order of the Dragon. One of these was Vlad (father of Vlad the Impaler), a claimant for the throne of the principality of Wallachia (now part of modern Romania)....
This is a page about the scholarly JOURNAL OF DRACULA STUDIES edited by Elizabeth Miller. There is a listing of papers from previous issues. They look fascinating and cover a wide range of material. Unfortunately, none of the papers are on-line, nor are abstracts available. The annual cost, however, is quite reasonable and if you are interested in Dracula lore, you might wish to subscribe (or submit papers).http://www.ucs.mun.ca/~emiller/vladjotd.htm
Finally, this is Elizabeth Miller's "Dracula: The History of Myth and the Myth of History." Here are a few short excerpts from an engrossing paper deserving to be read in its entirety:http://www.whiterosesgarden.com/Vampyres/vampyres.htm...I want to focus on how Vlad is viewed in Romania, and how many Romanians respond to the "fact" that for many Westerners, Vlad and the Count have become one....Miller concludes with a look at current Romanian resentment of the crass materialism connected with tourists -- e.g., photos of Vlad with fangs (sold only to foreigners lest Romanians become infuriated), Halloween parties at his birthplace, and much more.
...There is a fairly widespread view in Romania that the vampire connection has been deliberately emphasized in the West to undermine a figure who, to many Romanians, is something of a national hero....
...By the early 1970s, Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu had consolidated his power in Romania and was developing a clearly nationalistic policy. He revived elements of traditional Romanian nationalism, coupled with a xenophobia which targeted (among others) ethnic Hungarians and gypsies. Included were constant references to the great heroes of the past, one of whom was Vlad Tepes whom he elevated to a place of honor. The Party line in the 1970s was that, while Vlad Tepes was ruthless (few will deny that), his ruthlessness was necessary under the circumstances in which he found himself and in this respect he was little different from other contemporary leaders in Europe.......Though many Westerners are baffled that a man whose political and military career was as steeped in blood as was that of Vlad Dracula, the fact remains that for many Romanians he is an icon of heroism and national pride. It is this duality that is part of his appeal.
From Heather Changeri comes a general, cross-cultural page called "Vampyres":http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/excessbaggage/factsheets/romania.shtmlIn regards to some of the references you will find, I have included headings describing blood, bats, and those tribes and cultures that include the eating of the dead in their religious practices. I believe that when looking at vampyre history, it is important to separate fact from fantasy. It is also important to see where some of the roots of the modern myths of vampyres had their rather innocent beginnings....She doesn't look specifically at Central European vampires because her current focus is more on Africa, the Middle East (e.g., Egypt's Sekhmet), and Asia. Her "Resources" page, however, offers an excellent bibliography that includes Dracula lore. Her "Classifications" page looks at four different categories of vampire, including "psychic vampires" (she states that those born after 1965 are more gifted in this regard than those born earlier, but no reason is offered for this statement; my own personal experience with pre-1965 people suggests otherwise).
This is a BBC Radio production on Romanian Dracula tours. For those interested, they provide a good deal of data.
ROMANIAN CULTURAL TRADITIONS,
& FINE ARTS
"The Goat Dance": traditional Romanian Dance with Masks
Painting by Romanian artist, Ignat Bednarik (1882-1963)
This site from Romania Home looks at the custom of mask-making rituals. About the Goat-Dance, for example:http://bastian.freeyellow.com/karkandzali.html..."The Goat Dance", which is very often associated with a vast "Goat Procession", is very popular within the entire Romanian geographical space. It includes, apart from the "goat" itself, which is the main character, a number of secondary ones, such as "the gypsy", "the he-goat" and many others, in keeping with the carol-singers'fancy and the skill of the mask-making artisans who intend to render the dance more spectacular and original by means of the surprising aspect of the mask and costumes. The above mentioned characters sustain and diversify the action of the dance, by mocking at certain features of character so as to stir the audience's interest and to keep up their merrymaking....
This is an interesting little page on the Vlach, a name given to medieval Romanians. It explores a winter festival --http://www.ici.ro/romania/culture/index.htmlA glimpse on the wonderful world of Vlach winter festivals is offered in Wace and Thompson's The Nomads of the Balkans:(Note: ignore the "Hot Links" midway down -- scroll past and the essay continues.)
"During the twelve days that elapse between Christmas and Epiphany the Vlachs believe that the mysterious beings called Karkandzal'i or Karkalanza wander about the earth fron dark till cockcrow. They especially haunt the springs and defile the water, and is very dangerous to meet them. They are finally driven away by the blessing of the waters at Epiphany...."
From Romania Home comes an index page of cultural sites, including literature, fine arts, music, architecture, folklore, theatre/opera/ballet, cinematography, museums, and more. The pages offer well written prose descriptions but tend to avoid images (with a few notable exceptions -- see below). I first visited this site on a Sunday evening (PDT in the United States) and the load times were so excruciatingly slow that I almost decided to skip the site -- I'm glad I didn't, for tonight, a Wednesday, the load times are fine and the pages are a delight.http://www.ici.ro/romania/culture/folclor.html
This is Romania Home's folklore page -- although "folk art" would be more accurate for there's no lore, no tales, no stories of any kind. This is good place to explore folk art, however. As noted above, many pages are lacking in images (which is especially odd, considering that art is the subject), but the text is good.http://www.ici.ro/romania/culture/f_album.html
As an exception to the image-poor pages, this Romania Home page is rich with images -- there are no thumbnails to give you a "sneak preview," only brief captions, but I spent about an hour here (I have a fairly slow modem) exploring the many examples of folk art (including masks, carpets, embroidered sheepskin coats, and some haunting B&W photos of people) and I felt refreshed and pleased by the adventure.http://www.ici.ro/romania/culture/arhitectura.html
This is Romania Home's architecture page -- this is another exception where you'll find many images of castles, monasteries, and churches (I would have liked some photos of the art inside these buildings, especially the ancient monasteries). Here's a nice excerpt on the differences between the three main regions of present-day Romania:http://dir.yahoo.com/Regional/Countries/Romania/Arts_and_Humanities/...In medieval arhitecture, influences of western trends can be traced, at grater or lasser extent, in the three lands inhabitted by Romanians. They are strong in Transylvania, weaker in Moldavia, in forms absordeb by local Byzantine tradition, and even less discernible in Wallachia where since the 14th century arhitecture was based on the local interpretation of the Byzantine model....
This is Yahoo's page of well chosen links for Romania's "Arts and Humanities." To zero-in even more specifically, I found some of the art on my page from their "Artists" page at: http://dir.yahoo.com/Regional/Countries/Romania/Arts_and_Humanities/Artists/
This is "Painted Monasteries of Southern Bucovina." I wish the site offered photos of the actual paintings from these monasteries, especially given the strange beauty of the above image. Unfortunately, what is offered are Romanian stamps based upon these paintings. As the text explains:http://www.ici.ro/romania/culture/muzee.html...The painted monasteries of Southern Bucovina unite more than anything else in Romania the culture, history, religion and architecture in a rare harmony with the surroundings. These monasteries with their original paintings, sculptures and other ornaments give a picture of the Romanian people's religious and historical outlook on the world, as it appeared through centuries of battles against the Turkish power for national and religious freedom. These monasteries were orthodox bastions, hidden away behind walls in remote valleys and deep forests - and they still exist today like a bead of pearls....The page shows a wide range of stamps based upon ancient ikons.
These are Romanian Museum links -- many offer excellent photos of the art of Romanian artists as well as non-Romanian works in the collections of these museums.http://www.ici.ro/romania/culture/mz_tr_scoarteoltenesti.html
Carpet from Oltenia, 19th century
This page looks at lovely Romanian carpets from Oltenia:http://historicaltextarchive.com/links.php?op=viewslink&sid=52...The ornamental repertory includes such birds that are specific to the local fauna (the hoopoo, the cuckoo, the goose, the turkey) as well as animals belonging to the Oriental world (saddled horses, camels, lions)....For information on carpets from other regions, see links on the already mentioned site that gives "sneak preview thumbnails" (see above): http://www.ici.ro/romania/culture/f_album.html
[Romania: unidentified site]
This is page 1 of 2 pages of mostly scholarly links (even the travelogue pages that I checked provided further links to solid historical documents). The two pages have been compiled by historian Don Mabry for his excellent Historical Text Archive. I've annotated a few of these links already, but there are many more. It's a great place for browsing and getting lost in fascinating material.http://www.huntington.edu/srs/srs_gateway.htm
From the Society for Romanian Studies at Huntington College (Huntington, Indiana) comes an "Internet Gateway" linking to Romanian resources in the following categories: Reference Sources; Academic Centers; Other Organizations; Scholarly Publications; Other Publications; Romanian Home Pages; Geographical Sources; Political Sources; Economic Sources; and "Miscellaneous And Fun Stuff About Romania" (e.g., 1999 eclipse, poetry, maps, soccer, famous Romanians, etc. -- but many broken links in this section).http://www.huntington.edu/srs/srsreferencesources.htm
Culled from the above "Internet Gateway" is this page on "Reference Sources for Romania." The non-Romanian links looked good. As is inevitable in a country going through so many transitions, the sites linking to Romania have quite a few broken links. Still, if you're patient, there are treasures to be found here.http://www.huntington.edu/srs/srsscholarlypublications.htm
Also culled from the above "Internet Gateway" is a fine page on "Scholarly Publications Related to Romanian Studies." It includes links to jourmals, newletters, reports, and archives.http://www.romanianstudies.ro/romcivil.html
I'm going in more deeply, following the above "Scholarly Publications" thread, and giving you this link to what looks like an excellent journal, Romanian Civilization:The official journal of the Center for Romanian Studies, Romanian Civilization is the leading English language journal of Romanian studies in the world. Published 3 times annually, the journal contains articles by Romanian and foreign scholars dealing with all aspects of Romanian history and culture, as well as translations of Romanian literature into English. The journal also contains reviews of the latest books in the field of Romanian studies. The journal also publishes articles and reviews of books of a broader regional interest....Contents of more than a dozen back issues are listed (no on-line abstracts are available). Ordering information is available.
This is RoTravel.com, a Romanian travel site that offers good data (and photos -- see directly above for Danube Delta). It covers geographical regions but also cultural aspects and a Romanian viewpoint on history. Among the topics covered (with many subcategories) are monasteries, Transylvanian settlements, the Danube Delta, and the Black Sea's coast. Photos favor architecture, not painting or folk art, but it's still a good place to get a quick sense of this beautiful land.http://www.amadeus.net/home/dest/en/Regions/Europe/Romania/Rom.htm
This is another travel-oriented site, "Destinations" by the lively, witty, in-your-face, and always informative Lonely Planet, an organization that covers destinations around the world. It offers a good selection of facts and figures interspersed with interesting data. For example:http://www.romanianvoice.com/images/...Romania has majestic castles, medieval towns, great hiking and wildlife, and the cheap skiing of much of the 'undiscovered' former Eastern Block. And the Romanians, despite being among Europe's poorest people, generally haven't cottoned on to the scams and ploys so common elsewhere to separate travellers from their money. You'll be floored at how different Romania is, but you'll almost certainly see signs that it's chasing the dreams of the rest of the West....And here's an amazing, unintended "plus" even to one of the darkest periods in Romania's modern times:...If people didn't prosper under Ceausescu, bears did! He allowed no-one but himself to hunt them, the result being that the Carpathian mountains are now home to 60% of Europe's bears. Some 40% of Europe's wolves also live there, along with stag, wild boar, badger, deer, fox, and the green woodpecker, jay and grey owl.... The Carpathian mountains boast the least spoilt forests in Europe, rich in beech, sycamore, maple, poplar and birch. Some 1350 floral species have been recorded in the Carpathians, including the yellow poppy, Transylvanian columbine, saxifrage and edelweiss. Romania has 11 national parks, including the Retezat mountains in the Carpathians, and more than 500 nature reserves....And finally, here is data on the Danube Delta, of which I had never heard until I saw the photo I placed at the beginning of this section. The photo really surprised me, for I had incorrectly assumed that the entire Danube had been ruined by industrialization. Here is what Lonely Planet says about Romania's Danube Delta:...The 5800 sq km (92262 sq mi) Danube Delta, just south of the Ukrainian border, is Europe's youngest land geologically, and a magnet for birds and birdwatchers. Amid this wetland of reed beds and waterways, lily-covered lakes and shifting sand dunes, the Danube River completes its journey from Germany's Black Forest. Just over 14,500 people live on the Delta. Traditional wooden kayaks and rowing boats are the primary means of accessing the Delta's 57 fishing villages. Ceausescu's project to reclaim 38% of the Delta for fish farming, forestry and agriculture was abandoned after the revolution. Today the Danube Delta is protected, and 273,300 hectares (675,051 acres) of it are strictly protected zones, off limits to tourists and fishermen....Whether you're planning to visit Romania or not (and I'm not, at least not in the near future), I found this a very informative and evocative site.
From Romanian Voice comes a clickable map with 27 cities in which they have clickable thumbnail photos and minimal data. The photos are good but the ones I checked were heavy on architecture and not much else. Here are the 27 cities: Bucharest | Alba Iulia | Arad | Bâlea | B. Herculane | Biertan | Bran | Brasov | Buzãu | Cluj | Constanta | Craiova | Ct. De Arges | Deva | Iasi | Lugoj | Litoral | Pitesti | Severin | Sibiu | Sighisoara | Sinaia | Suceava | Târgoviste | Târgu Jiu | Târgu Mures | and Timisoara.
There are a total of 126 clickable thumbnails. If you prefer to see all these at once and get a better idea of what's available, there's a veeeery slow-loading index at: http://www.romanianvoice.com/images/images_index.html.
This is a page on Romania from musician, Tom Pixton. He offers a sensitive introduction and links to various areas of Romania (each with good descriptions and illustrations):http://www.catherders.net/Transy/Index.htmIn order to discover more about its traditional music, I visited Romania numerous times between 1993 and 1999, studying the language, meeting people and making friends, collecting books and records, traveling to many parts of the country, taking photographs and making my own recordings at festivals and folklore centers. I discovered a fascinating country, burdened by unbelievable ecological and economic disasters, filled with amazingly friendly people who face their relentless misfortune with grace and humor, and filled with incredibly vital music, played with dazzling virtuosity....Regions & subjects covered are: Introduction | Map | South Romania | Transylvania | Oltenia | Moldavia | Dobrogea | Banat | Maramures | Gallery | Gypsy Musicians.
This is a gentle site on Transylvania done as a school project by a Romanian living in New Jersey. He has a lyrical opening, general information, a page of 15 clickable photos, another page with historical data from a Romanian perspective, and a section on Dracula (see above under my Dracula section for a direct link).http://dir.yahoo.com/Regional/countries/romania/
This is Yahoo's regional search page on Romania -- the links are well chosen and cover a wide range of categories for those who like to explore topics on their own.http://goeasteurope.about.com/cs/wallachiaeromania/index.htm?rnk=r10&terms=Romania+History
This is "Wallachia & East Romania," an assortment of good links chosen by Bill Biega, the Russian & Eastern Europe guide at about.com. There are many links to specific cities and regions, as well as general information links. I tried the link to monasteries in N. Moldavia, as I'm still hoping to find a site with photos of the art (see the postage stamps link above), but unfortunately it was broken. As I've noted elsewhere, sites in Eastern Europe tend to break frequently.
If you find a site here on which you wish to spend some time, I'd suggest that you disable about.com's annoying top-frame (click where it says to on the far left of the "banner") -- it takes up too much space on the page and its animated ads contribute to the load-time; many of these links are wonkey enough without the added complication of about.com's own obsessive plots to hold you captive.
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Technical assistance: William Weeks
Text and Design:
Copyright © 2001 by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
Designed 26 August 2001 & launched unofficially
28 August 2001, 6:11am.
29-30 August 2001 (grokked many more links; added more images);
1-2 September 2001 (ditto).
Officially launched: Sunday, 2 September 2001, 4:30pm.
5 & 6 September 2001 (Vampyre link + fine-tuning).