Magnificent Neo-Romanian style “Tree of Life” decorative panel

Neo-Romanian style window decoration, Piata Romana area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

I was literally blown away when I first encountered the splendid “Three of Life” window decorative panel, shown in the photograph above, part of the elaborate decoration of a late 1920s – early 1930 Neo-Romanian style house in central Bucharest. It is still well preserved, with the exception of the upper part of the window reticular screen, which was probably broken sometimes in the last decade by ignorant proprietors to make way for air conditioning ducts, a blemish that is nevertheless repairable. The panel is in fact a complex composition of many symbols, inspired from the rich Romanian church and peasant mythology, arranged together in a succession of metaphors that unfurl along the three of life theme.  I can detect there the origins of life motif in the plant pot represented on the base sector, sitting on three grains (the Trinity) from which the life sprang up as a fruit bearing vine plant. The middle sector shows life’s many paths represented by the two decorative side window dressings that illustrate the continuous Manichean encounters between the good (symbolised by the protector eagle) and evil (symbolised by the dragon) forces. Their encounters are interrupted by ornate medallions containing the symbol of the cross, epitomising the peaceful moments attained at some points in life. The upper sector is a representation of the Garden of Eden, where two peacocks, attributes of beauty and peace, feed from a fruit laden cup sustained by a double traverse cross symbolising in the Byzantine/ Orthodox imagery the triumph of Christ and therefore of life over death. The three sectors thus form together an elaborate and full of details three of life, that gives personality and meaning to the the whole architecture of the house. There are many other symbols within this wonderful assembly, like the rope unfurling on the edge of the reticular screen, symbolising the infinity, etc. The whole panel is an wonderful Neo-Romanian style design, which has found in the local church and peasant art and mythology an extraordinarily rich source of inspiration.

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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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2 comments on “Magnificent Neo-Romanian style “Tree of Life” decorative panel

  1. …Wow. They packed a lot into a small space there. (At least, it looks like a small space; if the window is actually six metres high, I take it back.) It’s incredibly ornate and beautiful.

    It is usual for Romanian windows to have pierced screens like that? It reminds me of Moorish architecture in Spain. Is it an Ottoman influence?

    • You are certainly right Cheryl, the pierced window screen is an Islamic influence, which arrived in Romania via the Ottoman Empire influence, just how it arrived in Spain via the Arab Caliphate. The window is quite small actually, about 2.5m tall, which highlights even more the quality of workmanship and design put into it. Valentin M.

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