CUPSENI (1600) wooden church, Maramures County, Romania

Cupseni wooden church, general view
Cupseni wooden church, general view

The village was recorded in 1584. The patron of the church is the Prophet Elijah. The church was built around 1600. The legend says that it was moved from the place named ”Partin’s Garden” to its present site, that on a hill in the middle of the cemetery.

The modest structure is made of wood. It is unique because the interior arches of the apse – inspired by the arches of the stone buildings – the bell-tower with watch-tower hidden by vertical boards decorated with tridents at the bottom, and the arched openings between the pillars covered by a grating made of diagonal boards. At the base of the spire there are four small towers, each supported by only one foot fixed directly on the roof. This is a distinctive sign of the fact that the village once had an Old People’s Council.

The sides of the porch are also hidden up to the level of the railing, due to the extended beams of the main structure. The porch is held up by six hollowed pillars and joined in arcades by braces, arches and wedges shaped as goblets (a form specific to this region).

The arcades are laced at equal distances and they are connected by a girder-corona, which

Wooden church detail
Wooden church detail

corona beam creates the impression of strength, even if the framework of the entrance door has no decorations.

The ladder to the bell-tower is impressive as it is made of only one solid piece of wood. Its steps were carefully hollowed and rounded in its upper part.

The interior painting is almost completely destroyed. There are only a few faces and scenes left, on the wall opposite the Iconostasis, such as: ”Cain and Abel’s sacrifice”, ”The Banishing from Heaven” and others.

The Iconostasis is well reserved and it reveals the original display of the three registers around the axis and the sides. The faces all show individual characters; their features and clothes show obvious Western influences. The painters were probably Radu Munteanu and his apprentice, Partenie Buda.

Some consider Mihail Palcoviciu as the painter of this church, because the painting resembles the one of the church from Libotin.



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