I study round faces I found on masks and dolls and puppets in Sighisoara and Brasov, Romania last summer. Circles form the basic shape and eyes, nose, cheeks, and chin. Even eyebrows indicate circles. It makes a happy feeling. I’m ready to create masks and dolls and puppets, characters. Starting with painting circles appears easy, but will it be so? This little fellow’s hair grows around his face in a complete circle. What an enigma. I saw this hanging on a wall in a gift shop, just the face, nothing more. I think it would be a suitable face for Baby Brother puppet in a Baba Yaga play I am considering directing.
A bowl full of angels. So cheery! This artist has it down, the circles, the faces. I don’t want to copy, but I think it would be a good practice for me developing my own style, to let it flow and see where it takes me. I don’t have to make angels, maybe I’ll make witches or Yule Boys, those mischievious tomten-like brothers who lick your spoons and bowls and slam doors and peek at you through windows at Yule time. I’m happy to wander through the creative process. Painted faces, can they be as espressive as 3 dimensional sculpted ones?
So simple, yet so effective. I like the pipe cleaners for arms and legs, adorned with beads.
This cirlular emblem represents the Order of Dracul. I found it mounted on the wall in the house where Vlad Tepes, or Dracula, was born in Sighisoara, a town in Trnasylvania, Romania. Vlad’s father was the first in the Dracul order. In Romania adding “a” at the end of the name indicates the son of the original member. Only the first son adds the “a” and thereafter all the decendents use the name that way. So Vlad was the second in the Dracul line.
History about Dracula is interesting. I learned about him in The Horror Writers Workshop, Transylvania last summer. If you like horror literature, or want to explore the genre and visit inspiring places for writers, I highly recommend you take the week long workshop. For me, it’s unforgettable.
In addition to his title of “Impaler,” Vlad was also known as “Dracula,” which means “son of the Dragon.” Originally, this title came about because his father (also named Vlad) belonged to the Order of the Dragon, an order formed by the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund for the purpose of defeating the Turks. The elder Vlad used the dragon symbol on his coins and went by the name “Dracul” (“dragon” or “devil”). Hence the diminutive “-a” on his son’s name, Dracula. As the younger Vlad’s talent for torture became known, however, the name Dracula came to be interpreted more and more as the sinister “son of the devil.” Read more about Dracula’s history here.
I’ve long wondered why so many family emblems are shaped in circles. Obviously they fit well on coins. But consider the circle, a line that continues when its end meets its beginning. Life is a cycle, a circle. It’s not perfect and they say no circle is perfect either. Today I will draft an image contained within a circle. It might represent a family or an order, or it might just be a fun exploration with cirles. Perhaps I’ll go out in my field in snow shoes and stomp circles in the snow.
Today’s post is another photo in the Weekly Photo Challenge: Circle
Julia Hasdeu Castle in Câmpina, Romania, is haunted by Julia’s spirit, but in harmless ways. Even today museum staff notice her presence.
Julia’s spirit peered through this hole in the thick wall to communicate with her father. He constructed the castle after her death according to her instructions. She had only lived 18 years.
I peeked through the circle into the spiritualism room where Julia’s communication had been recorded by cultured mediums using automatic writing directed by Julia to her father.
Beneath the south arch supporting the medieval shop rested an ancient looking crone. Her scarf tied loosely under her chin adorned her complicated face. Spongy sandals comforted her toes. She dressed in tidy dark skirt and vest. The tiny woman smoked her cigarette and tilted a bunch of white hydrangea and gold mums toward me.
Her face was carved in abstract creases shaped by time. The wrinkles gave her the look of wisdom and suffering that comes from experiencing life with unguarded emotions. But her folded skin was not a true guide to her spirit. It was her eyes looking straight into mine, not with insight but with mischief and delight and recognition, that hinted at some joy she felt in that moment. She sipped her espresso from the little crimson cup and balanced it back on a stone at her feet next to an enormous yellow shopping bag, a bright sunflower printed on its shiny surface.
Between us stretched the cobblestone street that made our joints ache. Perhaps we noticed each other because we were the only two women in Shighisoara who wore sensible shoes this hot afternoon. But I feel it was something else that brought us together. She sat in the threshold, one door open to the long shady corridor behind her leading to a locked iron gate, the other door closed next to her showing the engraved pattern gracing its edge. The old architecture of the square juxtaposed with that of this knarly sweet person spoke to me.
I asked if I could photograph her and she nodded and sat straighter, posing. When she saw her images on my camera screen she smiled in silent approval. But I know I heard her say, “Today was a good day.”
These photographs are my contribution to the WordPress weekly photo challenge: Today Was a Good Day. I met this woman in Transylvania this summer. The experience hasn’t left me. A story waits here, an exchange between us that calls to be developed. Soon enough.
This week’s photo challenge asked us to create a Mesh gallery. It didn’t feel right for these two photos but I will try it out in another post when I have a gallery to exhibit.
And this wraps up my creepy posts for this week’s photo challenge CREEPY. Not everything about Bran Castle was eerie, but some of it definitely was. To see more scary images from my visit to Transylvania in July look at my recent posts below or in the left sidebar. To participate in the weekly photo challenge or see what other bloggers have posted for the creepy photo challenge click here. Not all my posts are about horror so please come back and see more gentle posts, soon.
She knew she would never escape the fortress if she married him. Death forever was better than submitting to his demeanor.
It’s CREEPY photo challenge week. Here’s my theme for today. To see previous creepy posts for this week, look through my recent posts below or in the left side bar. I have been posting photographs I made in Transylvania in July. This remarkable bride and horse, created by a film crew, were at the entrance to Bran Castle. To participate in the weekly photo challenge and see creepy photos by other bloggers, click here.
I’m always delighted to see hand crafted masks and those I encountered in Romania were most impressive. Masks represent the strange symbolic world. They serve to protect the home by warning off evil or beckoning good wishes. Romanians hang masks on their homes, in the forest, and display them on mantles and walls. They create masks and wear them in ritual dances for life’s greatest passages like birth, marriage, and burial. As the year passes through time, masks worn in ceremonies ease the passage from one world of time, or season, to the other, especially at New Years rituals. I photographed the masks I saw on my tour with the Horror Writers Workshop Transylvania. But fear not, the faces I encountered were not all so scary. Some were downright fun. Petre Vlase tells about Romanian masks expertly here if you want to learn more about the tradition.
Our inn’s host Lorenzo at, Mamacozonacilor Pensuine in Bran set these on the mantle in the dining hall to scare off evil during our writers workshops and tours. These two were hand carved by an elderly man in Bran.
Lorenzo gave this mask to Richard Thomas, our guest horror author and instructor in exchange for Richard’s promise to return next summer. Richard took this protection home to guard his writing chair where he composes some wicked tales. Photo by Richard Thomas, enhanced by me.
Romanian masks aren’t all so frightening. These fiber masks hang on homes. The male head of the household wears one in a ceremony and asks for certain wishes or hopes for the home. I found these displayed on ancient homes that were moved from various sites in Romania into Herastrau Park in Bucharest. They are hand crafted from fabric, animal hair, fibers, dried beans, and other materials. The inside where you put your face is all black felt. In some mask wearing traditions the person wearing the mask goes into the void when putting it on, becoming the character of the mask. That’s why masks are often black inside. I don’t know if that’s true in Romanian tradition.
Animals, too. This is not really a mask. It was made by a film crew that used the Bran Castle as a setting. Now that’s scary. It inspired a new horror story for me. You can’t miss this monster and rider as you enther the fortress.
Figure out this one. It’s on a hill alongside the road in one of Transylvania’s most haunted forests. We were warned that wolves do live in this forest. If you were in the Horror Writers Workshop Transylvania, dont’ tell what we discoverd about this spooky sight.
I’m thrilled that as soon as I came home from Transylvania I was asked to direct a spooky play this fall. You can be darned sure I will use some of this inspiration for masks, props, and the set.
In Bucharest, Romania a few nights before going to Bran,Transylvania for the Horror Writers Workshop, I left my dinner group at the beer hall, and walked back to my hotel alone so I could make some photos. I definitely prefer my Olympus DSL for night shots but the Canon Powershot 530 provided well enough. I feel the curse of Gypsies in the last shot, the fiddler near my hotel. He shook his head for me to stop photographing him and I stopped, reluctantly. I didn’t realize the woman pulling the child and cursing me was the same one as in the photo until I worked through my shots back in my room. She followed me and was deadly serious with her ever-so-quiet tongue in a language I barely understand. But her tone was direct and her glare pushed forward all the venom it could collect as she steadily strode toward me, gaining on me until I had to turn around and notice her. I gave it right back at her with a hearty look of offence more powerful than the defence I felt. And I meant it just as much as she did. Our locked and loaded eyes were our common language. I don’t know what she was saying but I silently warned her, “You’d better not if you know what’s good for you.” She backed off and turned away as I stood facing her, ready for confrontation. So far so good.