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Merlin and Rebecca traveled to Săpânţa, Romania and discovered this unique cemetery called “the Merry Cemetery.” They also learned of the man who started it all.
Local artist Stan Ioan Pătraş made ornate and beautifully decorated tombstones for members of the community. After his death in 1977, his best apprentice Dumitru Pop (below) continued the work.
Each tombstone is made specially for the individual. Each includes an etching depicting some kind of defining action of the person’s life, as well as a few words about who they were.
These tombstones are meant to be personal. They intend to capture, at least in part, the character of the people inscribed upon them.
If a particular farmer was known for being kind, but also for drinking too much, they would have it cryptically written on their tombstone.
Some tombstones even have dual depictions. On one side exists an etching of how the person lived. On the other depicts how the person died.
Săpânţa is a very close community, and these tombstones are a valued tradition.
This graveyard is a beautiful example of simultaneously lamenting death and celebrating life.