In the small village of SAPANTA Romania, lays a remarkable and happy cemetery.
Based on the belief that death is a passing on to a better life, these colourful tombstones celebrate the joys of life.
Just footsteps from the Ukraine border, the Sapanta Blue tombstones create a historical record of the towns inhabitants in a darkly humorous twist to the ritual of burial.
The first tombstone was carved by Stan Patras in 1935 and now more than 800 oak crosses fill the cemetery.
The head boards are loaded with symbolism developed by Patras. Black represents Death and Green stands for life. Yellow represents fertility, Red for passion and the dominant Blue for Hope, Freedom and the Sky.
There is a dark humour running through both the images and the text.
The poems are written in a local dialect and hold clever anecdotes about the persons occupation, habits (sometimes unsavoury details) or the way in which the deceased died.
There are no secrets in this village.
The town drunk is represented being pulled down by the Devil as he smokes and drinks his way to the after life.
Other symbols include White doves for the Soul and Black birds that are thought to indicate a suspicious or accidental death.
A beautiful Romanian Orthodox church is under construction next to the grave yard.
The unfinished interior currently makes for a strongly contrasting aesthetic to the outside
|Walls await decoration|
Beautiful mosaics will eventually decorate both the interior and the exterior
The cemetery of course has a wooden gift shop
This wonderful tradition didn't end with Patras death in 1977 but has been continued by his apprentice Dumitru Pop.
Over four decades later the house has been turned into a working museum dedicated to this visionary and his unique life's work.
One thing in life is assured, you will receive a warm welcome at the Merry Cemetery