Friday, September 29, 2006

A Tortured Past. Eras and Uses.

Poinari Citadel
Ottoman Invasions of Romania

Vlad Tepes III engaged in torture, according to traditions of his time where brutality and impalement were not uncommon -- and to preserve law and order.  His subjects were grateful, as he fended off the invading Ottomans.  He still is recalled with respect. See biography: at  His form of impalement was the Persian, through-the chest-breastbone area, judging from the woodcuts. See, if you must,

That worked for about 40 years. Still, his tactics did not last. The drastic measures just gave a reprieve until the Turks regrouped and came again. See Romania Road Ways

Needed now:

Put the history of Romania and its reputation for torture and political repression in perspective. What uses do cultures make of pain, by whom, against whom, and why. Are we so far removed.   Is impersonal use of agent orange, or napalm, any more moral than impalement just because the victims of napalm are, or become faceless; and impalement is highly personal. Extreme interrogations: are those so much verbiage for torture but on an individual level -- any less worse?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Barsana Monastery and towering steeples

Barsana Monastery, Barsana, Romania

Romania boasts many monasteries, with each style representing a historical period with its invasions and need for defense, and culture group differences.

In Maramures as elsewhere, many monasteries and churches are unpainted wood, see Barsana at, with stratospheric spires. The timbers are massive. Surrounding forests are being deforested (is the government overseeing anybody? reseeding?)

Monastery near Barsana, post and beam construction, Romania

In another monastery, under construction near Sapanta, we were able to climb up. Here is one outside staircase to the interior. The basic construction was post and beam.

Instead of a railing, the circular stair around the main post has figure-like flat guards on each step, far more practical than carving out a rounded rail.

Horezu Monastery

Horezu Monastery

 Horezu Monastery, Romania

This monastery was established in 1690 by the ruler Prince Constantine Brancoveanu, and is a World Heritage site. See Horezu at The style with a two-tiered gallery is called Post-Byzantine Art Synthesis, aulic art, see

The monastery complex is in active use. Here, an elderly monk. Sometimes the facades at monasteries are similar, but I recall that this was also at Horezu.

Monk, Horezu Monastery, Romania

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Moldova, Moldavia - Romania until 1991

A country's history is also known by its borders. Some of a country's turmoils are rooted in forced border changes, or voluntary migrations, and many other factors. Look at a map, and you will see a tiny country bordering Romania, called Moldova, or Moldavia. This country was an independent state beginning in the early 1500's, but was ruled for centuries by Romania as part of "Bessarabia." It then became part of Romania in 1918, and again independent in 1991, and in that period, was also a small state in the former USSR.

See the e-museum site of The University of Minnesota at Mankato, MN,
offers a full-service museum-type website at This gives a good introduction to the history, cultures and archeology of the area.