In Romania, as well as other countries, the peasants have found inspirational symbols in nature, often represented in their garments, patterns, homes, sculptures and drawings. Images of lakes, rivers, plants, horses, birds and other traditional symbols of their lives are taking shape in their traditional garments today, just as their ancestors have done for centuries. Sacred and everyday symbols of life have been passed down, with more or less known meanings.
Most common among vegetal symbols of many cultures is the tree of life, which can be interpreted as regeneration. Flowers, such as roses, poppy, daffodils, lilacs symbolize beauty and youth, while other phytomorphic, (vegetal) symbols, such as the lotus flowers are interpreted as rebirth. Abundance is commonly depicted by fruits and grains, such as grapes and wheat.
Good luck charms, like four-leaf clovers are harmoniously added to the design. Romanian peasants have held superstitious beliefs. Entire community believed in the bad luck that comes after certain actions taken against an established order, like working the land during certain days of celebration. A whole lot of superstitions and beliefs have filled countless books and still a great part of them remained untold.
Scevomorphic Symbols: Being a highly agricultural society, many symbols and representations of man-made objects, including ladders, rakes, combs are commonly depicted on the traditional textiles.
Zoomorphic Symbols: In the Romanian villages, stories and legends are written in textiles. A king’s daugher fell in love with the sun and was turned into a lark by his mother. The cuckoo (Cucu) is actually Cucu’s brother, Ion. Cucu was taken to heaven and Ion was turned into a bird to seeek his brother, Cucu. Hence his shout cu-cu, cu-cu! The rooster’s song makes the sun rise and he chases the darkness (evil) away.
Geometric Symbols: Though the rhombus is known to be a solar symbol and the column is derived from it, it is possible that the Romanian peasants weren’t counsciously following solar culture symbols when decorating their possessions, but rather copying them from one generation to the next.
Common geometric symbols include The Cross, triangles, diamonds, curls, dots and spirals.
Antropomorphic symbols, human shapes, men, dolls, women are often found on wall carpets, rugs and traditional towels.
Women holding hands symbolize the bridesmaids dance. Seven women are the seven days of the week. Hearts are traditional symbols for love, commonly found on ritualistic pieces (marriage, dowry textiles).
If you liked this article, don’t forget to share it.
Peasant Art in Romania – George Oprescu – Londra 1929