Manichean Symbolism on Neo-Romanian Style Panels

Neo-Romanian style circular decorative panels with Manichean representations: the battle between good (eagle) and evil (reptiles) adorning the street wall of an early 1930s house in Stirbey Voda area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

The Romanian folklore and traditional peasant beliefs, as well as the indigenous brand of Christianity (officially denominated as “Greek Christianity”, in reality very much blended with local ancient pagan beliefs) contain many references to epic Manichean battles between the good and evil forces. One of the usual representations in the Romanian visual arts of the good forces is that of the protector eagle, while the evil forces are symbolised by reptiles- snakes or dragon like lizards. I found two very telling such representations in the form of the circular architectural panels presented in the photographs above, which adorn the street wall of a grand Neo-Romanian style house in one of the central quarters of Bucharest. I am just overwhelmed by the dynamism and drama of these two well rendered scenes, in which the protagonists are clutched in a deadly fight, with no clear winner in sight. These two panels are some of the finest Neo-Romanian style Manichean symbolism representations that I encountered so far in my architectural photography work in Bucharest; another similar theme panel can be seen here, about which I wrote a post in June this year.

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I endeavor through this series of daily articles to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural history and heritage.

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If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

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3 comments on “Manichean Symbolism on Neo-Romanian Style Panels

  1. Have enjoyed reading a few of your posts and glad to see someone documenting Romania’s amazing buildings. I was struck by how many quite extraordinary buildings there are in Bucuresti – seemingly quite disregarded now. I’d love to come along on one of your tours next time I am there.

    • Thank you for your nice words! Just pop in to one of my tours when you are around in Romania. I am glad you like my documentation work, which is not being recognized as such by the Romanian state institutions in charge with the country’s architectural heritage, and they are quite a few aparently “doing” that sort of “documentation”, at great expense for the public purse, with no results, just for their vanity and cushy jobs:) Regards, VM

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