August 15, 2015

1821 ROMANIA (Suceava) - An old man from Bukovina

I remember like now that I have seen such an old man, dressed in folk costume, in a hot Sunday of July 1987, in a village near Gura Humorului. Was lunchtime and he returned from church, from liturgy. In Wallachia, from where I was coming, no longer sees such peasants. The long hair and beards were not explicitly banned under the communist regime, but every man had to have a look common as possible, to not stand out. "The new man", whether peasant or worker, young or old, had to be shaved and with the hair short cut, not to remind in any way about the "bourgeois-landlord" past.

Then I said to myself: "Behold, thus must have looked a răzeş* of Stephen the Great in his old age". Curiously, but right in Bukovina (actually part of the Upper Country of Moldavia, under Austrian rule between 1774 and 1918, when it received this name), Romanians have kept better the tradiţional garb than in Moldavia between the Carpathians and Prut, which wasn't under occupation. Or maybe it's nothing strange in the fact that in an area occupied the people strive more to preserve their identity and traditions. The old man, born no doubt the early 20th century, under Austrian rule, was for me, the 23-years young man that I was then, a lesson of verticality.

* As an aside, răzeşii were free peasants, who owned together the land of the village where they lived, but worked independently (as families) the agricultural lot assigned to them. Instead, they defended the border, and participated at wars of defence at the call of the Voivode.

About the stamp
The stamp, depicting the Romanian actor Sebastian Papaiani (born 1936), is part of the series Golden Stars of Stage and Screen, about which I wrote here.

Sender: Dănuţ Ivănescu
Sent from Sinaia (Prahova / Romania), on 07.08.2015
Photo: Mioritics

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