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Mesterul Manole

Mesterul Manole

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Encyclopedia
In Romanian mythology, Meșterul Manole (roughly: The master builder Manole) was the chief architect of the Curtea de Argeș Monastery
Curtea de Arges Cathedral
The Cathedral of Curtea de Argeș is a church in Curtea de Argeș, Romania, located in the grounds of a monastery. It is dedicated to Saint Nicholas....

 in Wallachia
Wallachia
Wallachia or Walachia is a historical and geographical region of Romania. It is situated north of the Danube and south of the Southern Carpathians...

. The myth of the cathedral's construction is expressed in the folk poem Monastirea Argeșului ("The Monastery on the Argeș River
Arges River
Argeș is a river of Southern Romania. It starts at the junction of headwaters Buda and Capra in the Făgăraș Mountains, in the Southern Carpathians and flows into the Danube at Oltenița.The main city on the Argeş is Piteşti...

").

Plot


The Legend of Master Manole: Negru Voda wanted to build the most beautiful monastery in the country so he hired Master Manole, the best mason of those times, along with his 9 men. Because the walls of the monastery were always crumbling, the prince threatened him and his assistants with death.

Manole had a dream in which he was told that, in order to build the most beautiful monastery, he had to wall in someone very beloved by him or by his masons. He told his masons about it and they agreed that the first wife who came there on the following morning should be the victim.

Manole`s wife, Ana (who was pregnant) came first and she was told that they wanted to play a little game, building walls around her. She accepted and soon realized that it wasn`t a game and implored Manole to let her go, but he kept his promise. Thus the beautiful monastery was built.

When Manole and his masons told the prince that they could always build an even greater building, Radu Negru had them stranded on the roof so that they could not build something to match it. They fashioned wooden wings and tried to fly off the roof, but, one by one, they all fell to the ground. A spring of clear water, called after Manole, is said mark the spot where Manole fell.

Negru Vodă


Negru-Vodă from the tale appears to be a fusion between Radu Negru, the traditional founder of Ţara Românească (Wallachia), and Neagoe Basarab, the historical builder of the church.

Legacy and similarities


Many Romanian writers had this motif as source of inspiration. Among them, Lucian Blaga
Lucian Blaga
-Biography:Lucian Blaga was a commanding personality of the Romanian culture of the interbellum period. He was a philosopher and writer higly acclaimed for his originality, a university professor and a diplomat. He was born on May 9, 1895 in Lancrăm, near Alba Iulia, Romania, his father being an...

 (in his Meşterul Manole theatre play) brought forth a modern take on the myth. In Blaga's version, Manole's self-sacrifice is not prompted by any gesture of Prince Radu, being instead seen as a personal journey. A similar tale in Hungarian culture is Kőműves Kelemen ("Kelemen, the Bricklayer"), whose synopsis is essentially equivalent to the story of Manole. Similar stories exist in Inner Mongolia
Inner Mongolia
Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, located in the northern region of the country. Inner Mongolia shares an international border with the countries of Mongolia and the Russian Federation...

 (related to the Hunnic
Huns
The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga River, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and established the vast Hunnic Empire there. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence of the Huns,...

 city of Tongwancheng
Tongwancheng
Tongwancheng was the capital city of the Southern Huns, the only city of the Huns that has ever been found. The city is well preserved and is located in contemporary China's Shaanxi Province, Inner Mongolia. The city is at the southern edge of the Maowusu Sands of the Ordos Desert, on what was...

) and in the Southern Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

, in Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

, Montenegro
Montenegro
Montenegro Montenegrin: Crna Gora Црна Гора , meaning "Black Mountain") is a country located in Southeastern Europe. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the south-west and is bordered by Croatia to the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast and Albania to the...

, Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

, and Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 (the Bridge of Arta
Bridge of Arta
The Bridge of Arta is a stone bridge that crosses the Arachthos river near the city of Arta in Greece. The bridge became famous from the eponymous legendary folk ballad, which is at the core about human sacrifice...

).

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