After we learned about his woodcarving projects and techniques, Bolek Maierik led us on top of Pleșa hill, where he carved ancient stone faces. Pleșa village is the closest to Gura Humorului, Suceava. 99% of the villagers are Roman Catholic Polish people.
The hill is part of the Great Ridge (Obcina Mare). In Romania, the Ridges of Bukovina ( Mestecăniș, Feredeu and Great Ridge) are considered part of the Northern Carpathians. The Great Ridge is so called not because of heights, but because it lies on a vast territory. A fascinating area, covered with forests, glades and strange shaped rocks and cliffs. The altitude is 835 m.
They are young hills, mainly formed by the deposition of sediments (fliș) during the Cretaceous period. This land was sunk into the sea. Sediments were deposited during Mesozoic and Cenozoic era, following the marine transgression and regression cycles. It was the effect of the Alpine orogeny. These rocks are hard, but break easily.
Stone Mountain Carving
It all started at the age of 18. He fell in love for the first time: “I didn’t know what to do with the fierce fire inside myself”. So he began sculpting and writing poetry…
The entire initiation process leaded him toward deeper and deeper self-knowledge. The spirits of the ancestors got a hold on him, a painful process, having to deal with the resistance, until becoming materialized. He brought his mind into matter. Sometimes, he withdraws, finding inner strength in history.
You may be wondering what happened to the girl he fell in love with…well, she’s still living in Pleșa, but got married to someone else.
At the base of the cliff, the villagers tried to dig a church, but the hardness made it impossible to continue. The place became invested with sacredness. Until 1904, when their first church was sanctified, the marriages were officiated here.
The cliff is about 30 ft (10 m) high, formed of sand grains. With a hanging rope around the waist, a chisel and hammer, he carved figures all over the cliff. Wherever he looks, he sees figures coming out of the rock.
Christ is the giant holding the celestial spheres. His gaze is directed down, at those who kneel in front of him. The meaning of His heart on a chalice is the love and sacrifice.
The fire symbolizes His divine love for us and, same time, the earthly searing love of the artist.
The crowned lion, a winged mythological creature is the guardian of the temple. It is inspired from Egyptian beliefs that the morning and evening gates were guarded by Aker. He appeared as a double-headed lion, or two lions sitting back to back. They placed statues of lions at the doors of their palaces and tombs.
A winged angel is the second guardian. The role of the guardian is to protect the temple from the evil spirits.
The artist carved his ideal beauty: big eyes, round cheeks, small but thick lips…Much like the image of the girl he fell in love with…
On the same stone, he sculpted another guardian of the temple and protector of his love.
On the western side of the cliff, historical figures are facing south, watching over the country they had been fighting for: Michael the Brave, Decebalus and the figure of a dacian.
This side of the Temple is also guarded by the head of a sphinx.
In the last two years, Bolek Maierik stopped working on the cliff. Other projects kept him away. He admits that, even if he feels that his current project is more important, he misses enhancing his beloved temple (read more).