Best Woman Inventor in 2010

The Romanian Raluca-Ioana van Staden won this year the Golden Trophy of the World Intellectual Property for the Best Woman Inventor at the International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva.

She invented a sensor that determines the existence of cancer in humans at the molecular level. Astonishing is that the sensor detects cancer in less than six minutes and the estimated cost would be less than one euro. Raluca-Ioana van Staden said that lack of funding has allowed the approach of only four types of cancer, because bio-markers are very expensive and all the tests to be made require a fairly large quantity of bio-markers. The device produced on large-scale would be very easy to use, as easy as a glucometer. "We've already done experiments on various types of cancer, as ovarian, breast, gastrointestinal and prostate cancer, as well with general markers of cancer. We make a determination before the disease is triggered in the body", she said in an interview. The device can be reused, there is no danger of contamination from one person to another, and last more than six months.

Raluca-Ioana van Staden (b. Ştefan) was born on July 16, 1969, in the city of Câmpulung, Argeş County. She obtained the baccalaureate in his hometown, then she followed the college. She has a doctorate in chemistry and a masterate in music composition. Raluca-Ioana is married with the scientist Jacobus Frederick van Staden, both working in the sole laboratory for analytical technology of processes in Romania, PATLAB, located in the Institute of Electro-Chemistry and Condensed Matter in Timişoara.

Photo: HotNews.

Camil Ressu

Camil Ressu (January 28, 1880, Galaţi – April 1, 1962, Bucharest) was a Romanian painter and academic, one of the most significant art figures of Romania.

Born in Galaţi, Ressu originated from an Aromanian family that migrated to Romania from Macedonia at the start of the 19th century. His father, Constantin Ressu, who was a journalist and had studied law in Brussels, was an artist in his spare time. From 1897 to 1899 Camil Ressu studied at the Fine Arts School in Bucharest with Professor G.D. Mirea. He continued his studies at the Fine Arts School in Iaşi, where he studies with painters Gheorghe Popovici and Gheorghe Panaiteanu Bardasare, and finished his studied in Iaşi in 1902, being awarded a silver medal. In 1902, after a visiting tour of the Munich museums, he would go to Paris for studying at the Julian Academy as an apprentice to Jean Paul Laurens.

After coming back to Romania in 1908, he contributed satirical drawings for such publications as "Adevărul", "Furnica", "Facla" and "Cronica". Soon he joined the "Artistic Youth" events, participating in official salons and other group exhibitions in the country or abroad. During his life he had two personal exhibitions in Bucharest (in 1914 and 1955 respectively). In 1917 he was one of the founding members of the "Romanian Art" Society, to include painters Nicolae Dărăscu, Ştefan Dimitrescu, Iosif Iser, Marius Bunescu and the sculptors Dimitrie Paciurea, Cornel Medrea, Ion Jalea and Oscar Han. Also he was on the initiative taken in 1921 for setting up the Romanian Plastic Artists' Trade Union he was to preside over for two years. He founded the Art of Romania association in Iaşi.

He was Professor and Rector of the Academy of Fine Arts in Bucharest so far as 1941. Starting with 1950, he was honorary president of the Plastic Artists' Union, to resume at the same time his academic position as professor at the "N. Grigorescu" Arts Institute. He was awarded in 1955 the People's Artist title, to become one year later a member of the Romanian Academy. Being largely exercised in studies of human body, of landscapes and objects under his eyes, he would, conscious of the drawing and colors performance, dare to innovate the art language while keeping the traditional values intact. His attachment to traditional values was mainly proved by his pictures of the village world seen as an immemorial preserver of those traditions.

Geta Brătescu

Geta Brătescu (b. 1926, Ploieşti) - is a visual artist from Romania, leading figure of contemporary arts. His work includes graphic art, drawing, collage, photography, video and book illustration.

Geta Brătescu studied at the Faculty of Letters, University of Bucharest between 1945-1949, with George Călinescu and Tudor Vianu, and at the Institute of Arts "Nicolae Grigorescu" Bucharest between 1969-1971. She started art studies in 1945 at the Academy of Fine Arts under the guidance of master Camil Ressu, but she was forced to discontinue because of communist censorship.

Distinct presence in the Romanian contemporary art, complete artist who chooses as a means of expression such as traditional media and new, Geta Brătescu done graphics work, engraving, drawing and fabric collage, tapestry, object, action photography, video. She exposed his works in collective or personal exhibitions in famous art galleries around the world (in Bucharest, Rome, Hamburg, Vienna, Liverpool, Missouri, Lausanne, Belgrade, Sao Paolo, Fredrikstad, Dessau, Bonn, Ljubljana, Graz). Geta Brătescu received many national and international awards, and in 2008 she received the title of Doctor Honoris Causa of the National University of Arts in Bucharest, given for outstanding contribution to the development of contemporary Romanian art. Also, Geta Brătescu is artistic director of literature and art magazine "20/21 Century".

Geta Brătescu is caught in a contradictory move, developing artificiality and at the same time acknowledging its inevitability. Revealing for that are the objects with her face like a mask, increasing or decreasing the presence of artifice. High examples of his image features are combined with materials of everyday life, building composite objects that are assembled in collages often with humor, seeking the participation of the viewer. She goes from serious to humorous, off-hand the serious fantasy and whimsy, the conceptual rigor to the unstoppable inventiveness.

Geta Brătescu is regarded as one of the most remarkable personalities of Romanian post-war avantgarde art. With a background in literature and philosophy studies, pursued in parallel with those in art, Geta Brătescu’s artistic practice began in the heterogeneous and provocative intellectual environment of the 1940s and 1950s and has passed through the political upheaval of Socialism in Romania and its successive collapse at the end of the year 1989. The fact that the artist has experienced these social and cultural turns is an essential factor in understanding her recurrent appeal to particular forms of artistic expression.

Photos from Ivan Gallery

Ion Andreescu

Ion Andreescu (February 15, 1850 – October 22, 1882) was a renowned Romanian painter.

Self portrait (1882)

He was born in Bucharest into a merchant's family. In 1863 he learned drawing with Professor Petre Alexandrescu, then he studied with H. Trenk at "Gheorghe Lazăr" College in Bucharest. He distinguishes itself in the drawing class of the "Saint Sava" College. In 1869 he entered Theodor Aman's Fine Arts School.

Beech forest

By 1872 he was an instructor of drawing and calligraphy at the "Bishopric School" in Buzău. In 1873 he left it for the "Tudor Vladimirescu Communal Secondary School", also in Buzău. Then, in 1875 he teached at the "Craftsmanship School" in the same town.

Woods in winter

Influenced by Nicolae Grigorescu, he left Romania for Paris in 1878 to further his education at Julian Academy. In Paris, he began painting at Barbizon. His work was exhibited with the works of better known painters such as Manet, Monet and Renoir. In 1881 he returned to Romania, ill with tuberculosis. His death followed shortly in 1882.

Street at Barbizon during the summer

Although he lived only 32 years, Ion Andreescu proved that he had an exceptional talent. His artistic creation to be reduced to a few hundred paintings - sober, profound, serious and meditative. "Among the Romanian painters, there isn't another personality more attractive than Ion Andreescu and with destiny more full of meanings. In fact, he guided the Romanian art in a decisive manner" - wrote the French critic Jacques Lassaigne.

 The red scarf

The oak

From Wikipedia.

George Fernic

George Fernic (August 5, 1900, Galaţi, Romania - October 22, 1930, Chicago, USA), was an engineer and pilot, pioneer in aviation, working on numerous aircraft. However, it was whilst piloting his own 'safety plane', that he ironically met his death, crashing into an Illinois field. However, his aircraft company carried on for a good few years after his death.

Fernic came from an industrial family which built ships and equipped railroads. In World War I years, his parental home was near a military airfield. He was too young to serve, but he spent long days around the aircraft and airmen. He made friens with the officers, whom he occasionally accompanied in their flights. On one of his trips across the Danube he passed the front line and was badly wounded by a shell. Youth does not like to accept defeat. Recovered from his injury, George Fernic's only desire was to be once more in an airplane. He joined the Army, graduated the Military School in Iaşi, and was assigned to the Aviation Corps.

Stamp and First-day envelope issued in 2000

Mechanics were in his very blood. He studied at Academia Theresiana in Vienna, then in 1919 he went to Germany, where studied aerodynamics. In 1924 Fernic took over the bankrupt company Deutscher Lloyd Flugzeug Werke near Berlin and became its design director. For commercial reasons the company kept the original name. Here Fernic designed and built aircraft of his own design (Albatros Fernic B.II; Albatros Fernic B.III; Albatros Fernic L.26; DLFV Fernic D.VII), but also in order after the customer projects; he designed and built also a car called Fernic.

Fernic FT-9

Early in 1927 George Fernic, with 2,500 flying hours to his credit, went to United States. First, he worked at Bellanca Aircraft Company in Marinero Harbor, then he bought Bellanca and founded Fernic Aircraft Corporation in New York. George had another passion: he participate whenever he has the opportunity to automobile racing and rallies, even at Indianapolis where he won the 500 miles in 1927. Fernic produced a model tandem-wing monoplane which immediately attracted the interest of experts. In wind tunnel tests, arranged by Guggenheim School of Aeronautics at New York University, the principles advanced by Fernic were substantial, and a great airplane with auxiliary wing mounted on the fore end of the fuselage, was built. The principle of "canard wing" is used today at famous air-fighters as Eurofighter or Saab 37 Grippen. The airplane was patented as FT-9 (Fernic Tandem 9) in 1929.

Fernic FT-10 Cruisair

The second airplane of George Fernic, FT-10 Cruisair, a mono-motor for school and training based on same principles, obtained approvals on July 11, 1930. This airplane was also highly appreciated by connoisseurs. Intending to promote his products, George Fernic began in the summer of 1930 a demonstration tournament in America, managing to obtain a considerable number of orders. Unfortunately and inexplicable, on October 22, 1930, flying at Chicago, George G. Fernic died the death of an aviator. He joined the noble army of the pioneers, leaving a meritorious contribution to the progress of aviation.

Shortly after, in Romania was set the order Aeronautical Virtue, intended to reward outstanding achievements in aviation. The first one was awarded, posthumously, to George G. Fernic.

Dumitru Văsescu

Dumitru Văsescu (1859 - 1909) was a Romanian engineer, professor and inventor.

Born in Iaşi in 1859, Dumitru Văsescu followed school and high school courses in his hometown. Animated by the desire to study engineering, he went to Paris, where he studied at the "École Centrale". In Paris young Văsescu installed a small workshop on Michelet Street, where he tried to build a machine capable of traveling on land or by rail, by its own means. After great efforts, managed to achieve in 1880 a steam car, which became after the tests one of the curiosities of Paris.

Steam car built by Dumitru Văsescu was composed of a multi-tubular boiler heated with coal, with connecting pipes, pressure valves and pressure gauges so disposed, that they can be handled easily. Very characteristic for this car were the rear wheels made of metal alloy with steel spokes and solid rubber tires. Front wheels were smaller and were made of metal, with tires. Dumitru Văsescu's car was fitted with two independent brake systems. Water tank was located under the driver's seat and steering wheel was on the right side of the car.

After graduating in Paris, Dumitru Văsescu returned in Romania in 1906, bringing with him his steam car, which circulated in Bucharest. The car was exhibited at the School of Bridges and Roads, where D. Văsescu teaches as professor. Dumitru Văsescu died on October 29, 1909, in Bucharest.

Living National Treasures

Endemic snails known solely from Romania include:

Cochlodina marisi (Pfeiffer, 1868)
Clausiliidae - Gastropoda
Shell horny yellowish to horny brown, thin, almost smooth, very shiny, 11-12 whorls, cerxix rounded, cervical callus strong and reddish yellow, apertural margin connected at parietal side but not detached, white, parietalis oblique and reaching margin, columellaris moderate, 3-4 palatal folds.
Size: 14-19 x 3-4.2 mm
Distribution: SW Romania

Alopia (Kimakowiczia) maciana (Bădărău & Szekeres, 2001)
Clausiliidae - Gastropoda
Shell dark brown with violet hue, ribbed, 8-10 moderately convex whorls with white suture, cervix rounded, aperture detached, margin broad and light yellowish, parietalis weak, reaching short spiralis inside, columellaris strong, principalis very short, upper palatalis weak and very short if present at all, no lunula, sometimes a very weak basalis, subcolumellaris not visible in a perpendicular view.
Size: 13.8-17.1 x 3.4-3.8 mm
Distribution: Cluj County, Gilău-Muntele Mare Mountains, only known from one locality.

Mastus venerabilis (Pfeiffer, 1853)
Enidae - Gastropoda
Shell sinistral, olive horny brown, first 5 whorls 1/4 of shell height, last whorl 1/3 of shell height, angular tooth present.
Size: 17-22 x 7-9 mm
Distribution: S Carpathians, Transylvania

Source: AnimalBase
Photos: F. Welter Schultes

Agapia Monastery

Agapia Monastery (Romanian: Mănăstirea Agapia) is a Eastern Orthodox monastery located 9 km west of Târgu Neamţ, Neamţ County, Bukovina, Romania.

The name of the monastery comes from a monk named Agapie who founded a wooden church long time ago. It was named "Old Agapia Monastery" or "Agapia of the Hills Monastery". Elena Doamna, the wife of ruling prince Petru Rareş, decided to build a stone church in 1527 at this location. The church underwent renovation during the reign of Petru Şchiopul at the end of the 16th century. Unfortunately, within a short time it collapsed because of the sloping ground. As a consequence, it had to be re-founded by Gheorghe Duca Voivode, but it was afterwards destroyed by the Eteria militants in 1821. In 1832, Mother Sevastia Munteanu founded a new wooden church on the premises, but it burned down in 1934. The church which exists now at Old Agapia was constructed of stone and wood and was erected before the 1939.

Agapia Monastery ("New Agapia" or "Downhill Agapia") was built between 1642-1647 by hatman Gavriil Coci, the brother of Voivode (ruling prince) Vasile Lupu. The Church dedicated to the Archangels Michael and Gabriel was designed by the court architect of Vasile Lupu, a certain Ionasc (or Enache) Ctisi, possibly originating from Constantinople. The Metropolitan of Moldavia, Varlaam Moţoc, officiated at the consecration ceremony, which Vasile Lupu himself attended. On this occasion, hetman Gavriil donated to the monastery a Gospel book written on parchment and decorated with miniatures of the Evangelists, as well as a silver gilt filigree cross with eight arms.

The inscription on the wall of the church says: "In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, I, slave of God hetman Gavriil and my wife Liliana, made and endowed this Agapia Monastery again, during the days of the right believer and lover of Christ Prince Vasile Lupu. And the construction started in the year 7150 (1642), October, the 15th day, and was completed in 7152 (1644), September, the 3rd, and was consecrated in 7155 (1647), September, the 12th". After the consecration, many of the monks of Old Agapia moved downhill, and little by little, a real monastery was built around the church.

The monastery was attacked and damaged by Turks and Tartars in 1671-1672, robbed by Tartars in 1674-1675 and by Polish in 1680, damaged again by the soldiers of king Jan III Sobieski of Poland between 1689-1693.

The monastery became a convent for nuns in 1803, by order of ruling prince Alexandru Moruzi. He founded also here a school for nuns. On 16 September 1821, the monastery was seriously damaged by a fire, but it was restored soon. It was restored and enlarged between 1848 and 1858 (when the church underwent several notable modifications), between 1858-1862, in 1882, 1903 (after the fire of 23 July) and 1968. It was painted by the great Romanian painter Nicolae Grigorescu, between 1858-1861.

The museum housed within the monastery shelters a valuable art collection as well as a precious collection of liturgical objects. It also shelters the deposit of old book of the County of Neamţ and the “Alexandru Vlahuţă Memorial House”. The library of the monastery incorporates fifty thousand volumes.

Attracted by the beauty of the landscape and the surrounding sights, as well as by the peacefulness of the spiritual life of the holy establishment, many writes and cultural personalities visited this monastery particularly in the summertime. It was here that they could rest and work in peace, far from the maddening crowd. Today, it is one of the largest monasteries of nuns in Romania, with 300-400 nuns and being second in population after Văratec Monastery. The Old Agapia Skete is affiliated to the monastery.

Sources: Romanian Monasteries, 100 Romanian Monasteries.

Bogdana Monastery

Bogdana Monastery is an Eastern Orthodox monastery in the town of Rădăuți, Bukovina, Romania. Its church is the oldest still standing religious building in Moldavia. The monastery was built by Bogdan I of Moldavia (1359-1365) somewhere around 1360.

It was to become his and some the Muşatini ruling princes (Voievods) necropolis. Here are buried all the rulers of Moldavia from Bogdan I to Alexandru cel Bun. There are ten graves inside the monastery's church. In the naos were buried Bogdan I; Laţcu Voievod; an unmarked grave supposedly Maria's (Bogdan I's wife), or Ana's (Laţcu's wife); Ştefan I; Roman I; Bogdan, brother of Alexander the Good; Bogdan, son of Alexander the Good. In the pronaos are the graves of Doamna Stana, wife of Bogdan III the One-Eyed and the mother of Ştefăniţă Vodă; Anastasia, daughter of Laţcu; Bishop Ioanichie (?-1504).

The grave were attended to, and marked properly by Ştefan cel Mare (Stephen the Great). The rocks on top of the graves were created by Jan (ca. 1480) at the order of Ştefan cel Mare, in a style that is different by principle from the oriental decorative sculpture. They are decorated with Byzantine-oriental ornaments like palmetto – a stylized palm leaf, and local motives like leafs of beech, ash tree leafs, elm tree leafs.

The beginnings of Bogdana Monastery and St. Nicolae Church are lost in the darkness of time, in the time of Moldavian feudal state’s birth. During the years, this exquisite architectural monument bared an historic, religious and cultural role. Despite the harsh times, the church resisted for centuries to the Tartar and Turkish invasions, plunders, wars, and Habsburgic domination, being along the time a proof of national Romanian spirit.

During Alexandru cel Bun, the church became a bishopric place, the bishops having their residence in the monastery. Some historian claim that Bogdana Monastery was a metropolitan residence until July 26, 1401, when the Moldavian Metropolitan Church was officially recognized by the Constantinople Patriarchy and the metropolitan seat was moved in Suceava.

Except the porch added by ruling prince Alexandru Lăpuşneanu in 1599, the monastery, carved in raw rock, maintained its initial shape of basilica adjusted to the orthodox cult. The first internal painting of the church is from the times of Alexandru cel Bun (14th century). In 1558, Alexandru Lăpuşneanu started the restoration of the original painting. Other restorations were performed in the 18th and 19th centuries: between 1745-1750, in the time of Bishop Iacob Putneanul and in 1880 when Epaminonda Bucevschi, a Bukovinean painter, painted in tempera the current fresco.

The plan of the church has Romance and Gothic influences, without towers, typical for the early Moldavian architecture. The external walls are consolidated by buttresses and decorated with one plank of niches in the higher part. It constituted an important model for the development of the Moldavian architecture of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Here there were placed also the basis of the religious education in Moldavia, by the establishment of a new school. The schoolmasters were monks, and among the monks apprentices there were people who learned the science of writing to become boyars of the princely Chancellery or teachers needed by the bishop’s Chancellery. Because of the cultural activity that took place from its first years, of the monks’ school and of the printing house that spread its books along Maramureş and Transylvania regions, Bogdana monastery proved to be a real cultural center, maintaining the nation, tongue and faith of the Romanians.

Sources: Wikipedia, Cultural Romtour, Destinaţii turistice.

Putna Monastery

Putna Monastery (Romanian: Mănăstirea Putna) is a Romanian Orthodox monastery, one of the most important cultural, religious and artistic centers established in medieval Moldavia; as with many others, it was built and dedicated by ruling prince Stephen the Great. It is situated about 30 km northwest from the town of Rădăuţi, near the Putna River. The story goes that it was built in a general area picked out by Stephen's advisor, Daniel the Hermit. The exact position of the church was left up to God when Stephen went to the top of a hill and fired an arrow— wherever it fell the church would be built. A section of tree trunk containing the arrow hole is still kept in the monastery museum and a cross marks the spot from which the arrow was shot. Apparently, a forest was cleared for the building of the monastery.

Right after Stephen the Great won the battle in which he conquered the Chilia citadel, he began work on the monastery as a means to give thanks to God, on July 10, 1466 - the church was to be dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The terrain on which the monastery is built is believed to have been previously occupied by a fortress. A chronicle of the time mentions that Stephen bought the Vicovu de Sus village in exchange for 200 zlots, and awarded the land and revenue to the treasury of the monastery. The edifice was built between 1466 and 1469 and consecrated in 1470; to it was added a few more buildings: a princely home standing on the southern side, outer walls and defense towers; all of them completed in 1481. A few years only after the completion of the buildings and fortifications, a dreadful fire destroyed most of the church, the outer walls and the princely home. The following years, the prince and founder rebuilt the church that soon recovered its former lofty appearance. In 1536, another conflagration seriously damaged all the buildings; there followed a new restoration completed in 1559, on the initiative and at the expense of ruling prince Alexandru Lăpuşneanu (1552-1561; 1564-1568).

Despite subsequent restoration work, partial or complete, time, earthquakes and landslides caused a lot of damage to all the monuments Putna Monastery consists of leaving their indelible marks on them, so that the church more especially required renovation and repairs. It was destroyed again in 1653 by the Cossack army of Timuş Hmelniţchi, the son-in-law of Prince Vasile Lupu. In 1653, the church, which had been built in the 15th century, was pulled down to its foundations and replaced in 1653-1662 by ruling prince Vasile Lupu and his successors, by a new building which, with slight alterations, has lasted to this day. In this period, the princely residence and the precinct walls were also enlarged and repaired. However, this important restoration did not last more than three quarters of a century, for in 1739; Putna Monastery was destroyed by a powerful earthquake, which made it necessary to start ample restoration work between 1757 and 1761, upon the initiative and with the endeavors of Metropolitan Iacov Putneanul.

Another important stage in the building of the monastery in the past was marked by the restoration work effectuated from 1854 to 1856, when the precincts were enlarged and new walls were erected, 23 m to the north of the previous ones. New cells were built parallel to the wall; the old princely residence was demolished, a new building - including a kitchen, a refectory and cells - was erected, together with a new abbey on the western side and a chapel on the north side. Restoration work on the monastery was started again towards the close of the 19th century, under the supervision of the Austrian architect K.A. Romstorfer.

Ample scientific restoration work was under way in 1969, when the church, the treasury tower, the entrance tower and the belfry - built in 1882 to replace a 15th-century tower - were restored in succession. Between 1974 and 1977, the former abbey standing on the western side of the courtyard was replaced by a wooden building, a museum housing art collections, while the cells built in 1854-1856 on the northern side were replaced and renewed.

The size and complex plan, the rich decorations (carved stone, terracotta and paintings)as well as the appearance for the first time in the ecclesiastical architecture of Moldavia of the exonarthex and of arches arranged slantingly in the vaulting of the pronaos are the basic characteristics of the earlier church of Putna Monastery, making of it a brilliant prototype in which the most important achievements of the previous epoch perfectly combine with the valuable renewing contribution of Stephen the Great's master builders who erected the monument.

The church was unusually large for its time, but the explanation was that it was built to be the burial place of Stephen the Great, his family and his successors. The thick walls are made of massive blocks of stone, and twelve buttresses support the walls. Originally there were only six, and the other six were added during the 17th and 18th centuries. Although the present church follows the ground plan of a typical 15th and 16th century Moldavian church, it has many architectural and decorative features that are typical of 17th century churches. The exterior walls are not the smooth façades of earlier times, but two rows of blind arcades go around the building, smaller ones above the twisted stone cable, and tall ones below it. The tall windows of the exonarthex, three on the west façade and one each on the north and south façades, follow the shape and size of the tall blind arcades. Their upper parts are decorated with intricately carved stone tracery. All the other windows are much smaller, with pointed arches and square carved stone frames. It had been usual to have only one window in each of the three apses, but here there are three windows in each apse, another late influence. It seems that the church was initially painted both on the inside and on the outside, but unfortunately, none of the frescoes could be preserved.

A short time after it was built, Putna Monastery became an important center of Romanian medieval art and culture. As early as 1467, scribes, calligraphers and miniature painters who had learned their craft under Gavril Uric came from Neamţ to work at Putna Monastery. Besides skillful calligraphers and miniature painters, many embroiderers, icon makers, weavers, silversmiths, sculptors in wood and book-binders toiled on in the quiet atmosphere of the monks' cells at Putna. Special mention should be made of the sumptuous and elegant Four Gospels created here, adorned with miniatures in which perfect drawing combines with a motley color scheme in which gold prevails, as well as the fine embroideries (epitaphs, iconostasis curtains, coverings of tetra-pods and of graves, stoles, etc.), many of them on show in the museum of the monastery.

Sources: Wikipedia, Braşov Travel Guide, Romanian Monasteries.

Humor Monastery

Humor Monastery is located about 5 km north of the town of Gura Humorului, Bukovina, Romania. It is a monastery for nuns dedicated to the Dormition of Virgin Mary, or Theotokos. It was built in 1530 by Teodor Bubuiog, high chancellor of ruling prince Petru Rareş. The monastery was closed in 1786 and was not reopened until 1990. The monastery is listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993.

The ruins of the first church of Humor Monastery, or Homor, as it was known at that time, are about 500 m down the road. A document issued by ruling prince Alexandru cel Bun in 1415 confirmed that Judge Ivan (Oană) had built a monastery in Homor. Judge Ivan was a wealthy boyar who also had houses and a stone church in Tulova. The ruins show a small monastic church with three apses, and possibly a dome above the naos, as indicated by the massive supporting pilasters in the corners of the room. A square pronaos was added to the structure some time later. The church was built of massive blocks of stone, decorated outside with enameled ceramic discs and painted inside, as fragments of paint recovered by archaeologists show.

The church is smaller than other churches of the painted monasteries and does not have any cupolas. Otherwise, it preserves the same traditional three-cusped plan proper to most other painted monasteries. Humor is protected by a wooden stockade rather than a stone rampart, and lacks the characteristic spire - indicating that it was founded by a boyar, not the ruler. The belfry with a belvedere was erected in 1641, under Vasile Lupu's rule.

The particular element is the open porch with arches, an innovation for that time. The open porch is separated from the nave by three columns connected through broken arches which have crossed vaults. The windows frames are Gothic. The open porch with arcades was the first of its kind to be built in Bukovina, an innovation influenced by both the local building tradition (veranda, terrace) and the foreign Renaissance (the lodge found later in the Brâncovenesc style). Another innovation is the tainiţa, a hidden place above the burial-vault, where precious objects were kept in harsh times.

Humor was one of the first of Bukovina's painted monasteries to be frescoed and, along with Voroneţ, is probably the best preserved. The dominant color of the frescoes is a reddish brown, completed nevertheless by rich blues and greens. The master painter responsible for Humor's frescoes, which were painted in 1535, is one Toma of Suceava.

The subjects of the frescoes at Humor include the Siege of Constantinople and the Last Judgment, common on the exterior of the painted monasteries of Bukovina, but also the Hymn to the Virgin inspired by the poem of Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople relating to the miraculous intervention of the Theotokos in saving the city from Persian conquest in 626. The Persians are, however, depicted as Turks which is a common device in these monasteries, their paintings being used in part for political propaganda in addition to their spiritual meaning.

The tombstone of Teodor Bubuiog is situated under his portrait and that of his wife’s. Petru Rares and his wife are both buried in the monastery church as well. Humor Monastery held for many years the valuable 'Humor Gospel', a book dating back to 1473, painted by monk Nicodim and displaying a famous portrait of Stephen the Great. The monastery houses a valuable collection of icons dating back to the 16th century. The monastery, underwent several restoration works, in 1868, 1888, 1960-1961, 1967-1970, and 1971-1972, when the paintings were washed.

Stephen the Great, miniature in Humor Gospel

Sources: Wikipedia, Romanian Monasteries, Orthodox Photos