COSTENI wooden church, near Cupseni, Maramures County, Romania

The wooden church, general view
The wooden church, general view

The village was first recorded in 1603. The wooden church whose patron saint is Saint Nicholas was built in 1870 belongs to the group of church buildings that are distinguished by their particular proportions. The simple roof covers the apse and has a very high bell-tower surrounded by four little towers that prove that the village is an important one.

The watchtower has a fret-sawn parapet decorated with two rows of hearts. It rests on supporting pillars that are joined by four side arcades. The pattern imitates the one on the porch. Above the watchtower there is an eight-sided spire.

The brackets are carved in round shapes; they are joined with the beams only in one point. The same pattern can be found on the arcades of the porch that are supported by four pillars with hollowed edges. They are united in a massive corona joined by half-arches to the pillars. There is also a linking wedge in the shape of a goblet (a common artistic symbol used by the wooden church builders of the region).

The frame of the entrance door is in the shape of a triple arch decorated with little squares

The wooden church, detail
The wooden church, detail

equally distributed that enclose the top of the arch.

Imperial figures can be identified in the pronaos painted in colonnades in a naive style. They stand out because of the Romanian folk costumes they wear.

The spaces on the side walls are divided by wide friezes painted with folk motifs borrowed, from popular embroidery. There are also narrower ones in the shape of repetitive crosses and floral garlands on a blue background strewn by stars. The icons inspired by the traditional culture are painted directly on this background. The portraits of the saints or the biblical scenes are painted in dense colors without following any recognized pattern, the painter being evidently less talented.

The Holy Doors are distinguished by the shapes of the floral vines entwined at the bottom with bunches of grapes. The doors have four medallions instead of the six found on the Holy Doors of other churches in the region.

This wooden church was built by the craftsmen Petrut loan and Petrut Grigore from Magoaja for 800 guilders. Tura loan paid 700 guilders. The rest of the money came from the local Orthodox community.



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