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‘And I was once a human, too
but I drunk myself to death
when my wife had left
and dumped me
so vodka hugged me
Look my true friends
and don't do the same
Cigarettes and alcohol
will push you through the door
Don't be cross
Mother, dear
Pray for my soul
to Almighty Lord’
(Merry Poem for Sapanta’s Cemetery)

Dumitru Pop is a local sculptor, the author of merry tombstones in Merry Cemetery in Sapanta. He is in his 50’s, lives with his wife and a daughter in a house near cemetery, where he has his workshop. He is introverted, quiet, slightly stuck up, clever and cunning, the most important person – ‘guru’ of the village, a bit of a local star.
"Local people are not scared of death... They just know that life was lent to them and they have to give it back. They are scared of something else... scared of...description on their graves" says Dumitru starting on his new commission.
The ‘Merry Cemetery’ - is one of the oddest places in the world, filled with psychedelic blue-coloured tombs and lies in the middle of a God-forsaken, grotty and provincial village. The tombstones bear drawings depicting the life of a deceased together with ironic poems with no compromise describing the good and bad points of his or her character, the position in the local community and the kind of death he/she suffered. There are tombstones for a drunk, a local prostitute, a communist party secretary, a barber, a shepherd, an officer, a witch, a fireman, a miner, a musician and many others. There are about 200 tombstones made between 1936 and 2006. The Merry Cemetery is a mirror, where the inhabitants of Maramures reflect.
The Merry Cemetery is a paradox, where death is seen in a merry way. According to Mircea Eliade, the Romanian scholar in Religion and Anthropology, something which distinguishes Romanians from other nations is their attitude to death, which could come down to the old Romanian proverb: “The birth you greet with tears and dying with laughter”. Merry Cemetery of Sapanta seems to be a mythical centre of Romanian philosophy of life and death.

Director: Maciej Grabysa
Producer: Rajesh Thind

And I was oncea human too... - by Maciej Grabysa
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