20 November 2016

The Răpciuni Church, Neamț County

The church from Răpciuni village, Neamț County, has been brought onto Museum premises in 1958, as the village was relocated for the construction of the Bicaz reservoir. The church was built in 1773, in the times of Prince Grigore Ghica, according to the date scripted in Cyrillic on the entrance door framing.

Churches were the pinnacle of traditional Romanian architecture, virtually completing the renowned civilization of wood. The present monument is an eloquent example in this sense. Of triconch layout, built with spruce wood girders and beams of rectangular section notched with dove-tails, using a German technique that offers great stability, the Răpciuni church reflects architectural progress, from the rectangular edifice plan to the tri-lobed plan, developments made between the 17th and 18th centuries.

The last three beams under the eaves have been sculptured with artistry. The overlapping edges are shaped to symbol butterfly wings. The façade of the church is adorned with various decorative elements designed to highlight the openings: the windows and doors are etched and carved with geometrical motifs such as the rope and the rosette.

The church was the locus that focused all the important events of village life. It features a porch with pillars which bear long inscriptions in Cyrillic highlighting aspects such as the locusts’ invasion of 1847, poor winter precipitations or dry summers.

The division of interior space is commonly featured in Romanian churches: the entrance hall – reminiscent of peasant porches – with carved pillars and boarded handrail; the narthex – once the place where the rite of baptism took place and later the place assigned to women; the nave – the central area of the church – symbolizing the Earth and the Universe; the altar – with a reliquary of relics, a communion table (Romanian: „proscomidia”) and diaconicon used to keep the vestments, books, and objects of worship.

The artistic value of the church is conveyed by its interior painting made by local craftsmen directly on the smooth surface of the walls, which were prepared by sealing the joints between the beams with clay and applying pieces of linen or hemp cloth on top. The painting follows Byzantine respects, with the „Passion of Jesus” scenes (in the nave) and the Old Testament (in the narthex).

Considering the harmonious and balanced proportions of the monument, as well as the impressive murals, the church stands as an example of a highly artistic creation intended to postulate the originality of Romanian folk architecture.