Pillaries crosses Moldova

Pillaries crosses Moldova

The cross. The crucifixion with the impending, angels and dove. Stone, painting. First half of XX century. Cetrosus.

Pillaries crosses Moldova

This album is dedicated to the Moldovan folk sculpture, more precisely – to the worship crosses with crucifixes, among the Moldavians known as “troites” (troitele), which is the legacy of the XIX – first half of the XX century.
In the past, the crosses in Moldova were numerous. Inseparable companions of peasant life, they stood by the roads, reminding the passer-by of the sufferings of Christ and enlightening his soul with hope. Moldavanin marked Crucifixion a roadside well, built in memory of the deceased or killed in the war, or as a sign of getting rid of a grievous disaster; put the crucifix in the yard, near the gate, believing in his protecting power. Quite often the Crucifix served as a grave monument.

The fate of the works of folk sculpture, and, above all, wooden, was very sad. In the post-war years, as a result of the actions of the Soviet administration, which implanted the party-government ideology of atheism, the crosses with statues collapsed. Through the efforts of local residents, some of the monuments were moved for church and cemetery fences, but here too, in the absence of protection, much has been lost. Neglect was condoning the plundering of wooden sculpture in the interest of private collecting. In our days of spiritual revival of the Moldavian people, the preservation and restoration of the surviving statues, the number of which is inexorably decreasing, is one of the most important problems of the national culture.
The life of wooden sculptures under the open sky is relatively short: the earliest of the surviving ones barely reach the age of 1.5 years. Stone crucifixes of a greater prescription are also unknown. The heyday of this art can be attributed to the second half of the XIX century, and the emergence – to its beginning or the end of the previous century.
The art of plastics in the territory of the later Moldova existed from time immemorial. Its origins date back to those remote prehistoric times, when small ritual female figurines made of clay were a necessary attribute of the dwelling, and large stone sculptures stood in the midst of pagan prayers. Many of them are discovered by archaeologists and are represented in the museums of Chisinau.
Christianity brought with it a vast complex of images and plots. Catholicism expressed them mainly in three-dimensional forms, lavishly fitting their temples with sculpture. Orthodoxy, on the contrary, counteracted the penetration of the sculpture inside the church, where the Byzantine tradition was dominated by painting. Moldovans profess Orthodoxy, and in their churches sculptures are very rare. Here plastic is limited to decorative carvings of the iconostasis and some attributes of the ritual. As for the figurative sculpture of the crosses, then, outside the temple, she did not evoke objections from the clergy. A certain role in the emergence of sculptural crucifixes in Moldova could be played by its territorial proximity to the Police, where the baroque sculpture of the Catholic churches, and the people’s fine arts, reached a high artistic level.

Pillaries crosses Moldova

The Crucifixion. Fragment of the worship cross. Tree. XIX century. Butuchene.

Subject variants of the crosses are few in number. Masters are either limited to the image of Christ, or flank him with figures of the upcoming – the Mother of God, Mary Magdalene, John the Theologian, the Apostles. The images of the hosts, angels, are often found. The usual attributes of these plots are the pigeon – the symbol of the Holy Spirit, the head of Adam – the skull and crossbones at the foot of Jesus, meaning the location of the original Crucifixion at the burial site of the first man on earth, the instruments of passion, the cup of suffering, the srebreniki and the crowning cockerel – the sign of the condemned disbelief (by association with the words of Christ addressed to Simon Peter at the Last Supper: “A cock will not crow unless you deny Me three times”).

The plastic features of the sculptures are largely dictated by the capabilities of the material. The composition in the tree is made up of pieces and pieces made separately. The central figure is composed of the parts. Everything is fixed on a shield – in an open state or in a glazed kiot, protected by a visor and high raised on a pole. In the stone, a cross with figures is carved from a monolith and mounted on a pedestal. The composition here is more voluminous and, unlike the wooden statue, perceived frontally, is more susceptible to spatial perception. In this case, the essential features of stone plastics are determined by the features of the local material. Thus, in the Transnistrian villages for sculpture, along with limestone,
Sandstone, named at the place of extraction by Kosovetsk stone. Its shallow dense structure made it possible to develop the shape in more detail without fear of durability, while limestone-shell rock, porous and brittle, required more massive, generalized forms. Various cross-shaped crosses in their sizes reach a height of three meters and a height. In this case, the value of the central and lateral figures is not provided by tradition. It varies widely in accordance with the author’s compositional concept.
The sculpture in question is a purely peasant art. Original images of church iconography, having passed through the people’s consciousness, were transformed and sometimes so freely interpreted that they are only remotely similar to their canonical prototypes.

Pillaries crosses Moldova

The cross. Tree. XIX century. Butuchene.

The works created by rural carvers are imbued with a sense of life. Faith of the peasant is naive. Known to him events from the Holy Scripture, perceptively passed down from generation to generation, he reduced the concrete ground of human relations. And when the master created images of crucifixes from wood or stone, a model from which he could verify his ideas became a real person from the surrounding reality. Is it not because of the works of rural sculptors that we are so often looked at by living people, often endowed with features of a local, familiar type writer-simple peasants with coarse faces and strong, worn-out hands. The peasant carver contrasts the simplicity and kind-heartedness with the glory of the late-ceramic images, and the spirit of mysticism – the life truth.
Moldavian Crucifixes are extremely diverse in the nature of plastics, which is due, above all, to the level of professionalism of the performers. How often, especially in cemeteries, you encounter a primitive created by the hand of a peasant, for the first time, perhaps, taking a tool to make a sculpture for the grave of a loved one. The naivety of such works does not deprive them of expressiveness.
Immeated with the immediacy of feelings, timid and touching as a child’s drawing, they are full of interesting surprises and sometimes their extremely conventional “cubist” forms are strikingly close to certain searches in the art of modern times, recalling its possible folk origins. However, most of the sculpture is made by experienced carvers, who own a wide range of plastic products. Their ability to operate with voluminous masses, to decisively model the form, to reveal the state of mind of the characters is evidence of high professional skills.
The abundance of such works suggests that for many masters sculpting was a profession, but it was also an occupation that accompanies the main specialty. The wooden sculpture was performed by the most skillful rural dairymen whose skill so clearly affected both the construction of the church temples, the house carving, and the manufacture of all kinds of household utensils. As for the stone sculpture, it is. in a certain part, could be the object of creativity working in quarries of stone cutters.
With all the variety of decisions related to the nature of the material used, the peculiarities of local schools and the difference of individual authorial techniques, the Moldovan folk plastic is an integral phenomenon, imbued with the unity of ideas and the general that determines its unique national appearance.
To the characters of the Moldovan cross crosses, any affectation, emphatic drama, is so alien, for example, in similar works of neighboring Galicia. We will not meet, with rare exceptions, no sharp movements of figures, no Christ’s upturned head, nor a face distorted by pain. The image is static, but on the outwardly calm face – a tension restrained by will and an unquenchable thought.
These traits are clearly felt in the wooden Crucifix from Butucheni village, belonging to the outstanding works of Moldovan folk sculpture. With enlightened clarity, it reflects the artist’s imaginative design and techniques of his incarnation. The statue is characterized by extraordinary freedom of execution. Its forms, cut by chopped planes, are carried out by precise and precise movements of the cutter. The volume masses of the figure are, as it were, broken up into composite elements, each of which is reduced to its original geometric prototype. And, as if looking into the future, the author comes to the fine language, surprisingly close to our modern sense of plasticity. Especially impressive is the interpretation of Christ’s head, where the wise logic of forms is adequate to the power of expressiveness.
Pitched crosses made of stone arose later than wooden crosses. Formation of the art of stone sculpture, which was in parallel with the development of stone architecture in the village, began around the middle of the XIX century, when the construction in the cities of Bessarabia, joined to Russia, caused a sharp increase in the extraction of stone, which became accessible to the needs of the peasantry. first of all, for the masters themselves who worked in the quarries. Along with the manufacture of architectural blocks for urban buildings, many of the stone crosses scattered along the edge could also be born here.
The creative findings of the most gifted masters, developed by their students, led to the formation in the stone sculpture of local schools. Each is characterized by its favorite techniques in composition, the interpretation of figures and the type itself. One of these schools is Senate. At the cemetery of the Senativka village there are preserved works of the end of the XIX – the first half of the XX century, amazing with the unique style and unexpectedness of individual decisions.

Pillaries crosses Moldova

The head of Christ. Fragment of the worship cross. Tree. XIX century. Butuchene.

For all its architectonic character, Senate sculptures are characterized by extraordinary freedom and picturesque forms. Masters dispose of the material as if molding from clay, increasing the elements of the composition on the skeleton of the cross. On both sides of it, on the brackets, small figures of the forthcoming ones appeared, like growths. The Nimbus hangs over the head of Christ with a massive visor. In the high relief carried dove, angels, other attributes. Sometimes the composition becomes more complicated: twisted columns, shelves, niches appear. Overgrown with details, the very shape of the cross is lost, and the entire structure, which shows through the gaps of the cut stone, acquires the features of magnificent baroque. But the whims of the environment is opposed by the simplicity of the figures and the concentration of faces marked by a seal of meditation.
One of the centers of the stone-cutting business was the village of Kosowy, where crucifixes were produced from the local sandstone, mostly supermodels, which were delivered by water to the Transnistrian villages. In fact, these are stone variants of the cross-stone wooden crucifixes found everywhere. They are high, thin in section, as far as the strength of the material allows. Accordingly, the figure of Christ is elongated.
Its relief is supported by clear cutting strokes that reveal facial features, hair, ribs, abdominal cavity, folds of hip cloth and simultaneously create a peculiarly rhythmic lineup. By combining the plasticity of the stone with the graphics, the Kosoetic masters introduced into their image the features of poetization that were understood in their own way.
People from the village of Gordinesti told the people in the sculpture, where the local limestone contributed to the development of the stone-cutting business. Gordinesti carvers have created a special type of cruciform stela with a crucifix in a figured niche. Difficultly outlined heavy arrays of steles with stocky figures are characterized by their monumentality and reminiscent of the images of the European Middle Ages.
Particularly should be noted two sculptures from the village Zhelobok. This is a complex multi-figure compositions on high pedestals. One of them, not completely preserved, impressive image of Mary, lamenting Christ. Her exhausted figure, her bowed head, her hand on the lifeless body of her son convey the feeling of an inescapable maternal grief. Another work by the same author is an example of an extremely complex solution. Before us is a nine-figure composition with the upcoming – Our Lady, the Apostles. The plot is expanded by showing on both sides of Christ and a few retreating from him deep into the two crucified villains. With small dimensions, the sculpture strikes with monumentality of forms, which, incidentally, is characteristic of the entire Moldovan folk sculpture. The composition is built in clear tiers. The tranquil rhythm of figures, clothes, falling down with heavy folds, sounds choral, evoking in memory the stone symphonies of medieval temple portals.
Monuments from Zhelobka testify to the high professionalism of the sculptor. They suggest that the receptions of the academic school in the creative work of some masters could be the result of communication or collaboration with architects and authors of urban sculpture.
The idea of ​​Moldovan folk plastic is invariably associated with such an important component of it as color. Not all of the sculpture was painted, less often it was stone. But the appeal to color is a tradition long ago, and often on decolorized sculptures it is possible to find traces of a weathered paint in the depressions.
The nature of the painting is extremely heterogeneous. Along with the characteristic for people’s aesthetic sense conditional, not always coming from nature understanding of color, there is a craving for painting illusory, with a careful drawing of details. Quite often the planes of stone pedestals were painted with figurative compositions depicting saints (Zubreshty and other villages). Especially folk in style, they are written in local color, without halftones, with the use of black strokes. From time to time the painting was renewed. At the same time, each performer brought her personal taste into her, and one can only regret that whenever a new color layer was refreshed, a valuable sample of folk color improvisation disappeared.
Sculpture is an interesting area of ​​Moldovan folk art. Like all the best that is created by skillful peasant hands, she conquers the immediacy of feeling and skill. But to everything, what is so remarkable about other areas of peasant creativity, plastic, being a phenomenon of the graphic plan, makes an extremely valuable contribution to our understanding of the national art of Moldova, revealing the depth of its spirituality.

Pillaries crosses Moldova