Daily Picture 6-Jan-10: Balcony Totemic Poles

A Neo-Romanian style balcony provided with wood carved totemic poles inspired from peasant domestic and funerary art of Oltenia region. Late 1930s house, Cotroceni area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

Romania’s peasant art is a rich source of inspiration for the Neo-Romanian architectural style. The art has ancient roots, with archaeological examples dating from pre-Indo-European times. It has a great degree of abstraction and modern artists like the sculptor Constantin Brancusi, one of the pioneers of modern abstract sculpture, who had a peasant background, born and raised in the Oltenina region of South-West Romania, have used with great effect in their master-works peasant motifs from this part of the world. The totemic poles adorning the Neo-Romanian style balcony in the photograph above are inspired from examples found in the ancestral villages of Oltenia, where such ornaments are used for house veranda decoration or even as grave marks in conjunction with wooden crosses. The periodical thickness variation carved into the the pole shaft signifies, according to profane and specialist interpretations, the undulating passing of time from primordial origins to infinity, punctuated by important key events represented by the St Andrew like cross motif carved at regular intervals. I am always enchanted by the intelligent use of peasant art in architecture, such as this little example, which in my opinion adds significantly to the intrinsic and market value of a period building.


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


If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating 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.