Artefacts restored within the project: painted wooden cross

Presentation of the artifacts exhibited in the project “ The Church of Horea – a heritage for the future. Valuing an 18th Century architecture monument through Virtual Reality”, a project made by the Ethnographic Museum of Transylvania, together with the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca and the Norwegian association NUDA AS, financed by the EEA Grants 2014-2021, within the Program RO-CULTURE, continues with a painted wooden cross.

The sign of the cross was used by many peoples long before the advent of Christianity. According to the Explanatory Dictionary of the Romanian Language, the cross is an “object made up of two pieces of wood, stone, precious metals, etc., placed perpendicularly and symmetrically on top of each other and is a symbol of the Christian faith.”

As a sacred element, the cross is present at all important moments in a person’s life – birth, marriage and death.

The motif of the cross, made in a multitude of plastic-decorative variants, from very different materials and techniques, is found everywhere in the traditional Romanian village: in the household, on objects (on the holiday costume, on the interior textiles, on the objects of household inventory, etc.), at crossroads, abroad, etc., demonstrating the Romanian peasant’s faith in the protective, apotropaic force of this symbol.

From the category of liturgical objects restored and present in the exhibition, the restoration of the wooden painted cross, with number B.9198, involved a thorough, highly specialized action successfully performed by Ioan Butnariu – expert polychrome wood restorer, within the Conservation Laboratory – restoration of MET (photo 1-2, photo 14-15 – cross before and after restoration).

The painted wooden cross, measuring 48.8 x 25 cm, dates from the 20th century.

The symmetrical vertical and horizontal composition presents, on one side, the Baptism of the Lord, and, on the other side, the Crucifixion of the Lord.

On the side with the Crucifixion, Christ is represented centrally framed by four characters on three sides, and on the fourth are represented the sun and the moon. The whole scene is surrounded by a red band, and on the outside the cross is framed by carved and perforated decorative elements.

The baptism of Christ is represented centrally, framed by three characters, and the Holy Spirit appears as a dove. The red band is also present on this side. Both facets have a sippet and embossed decorative elements.

The restoration operations performed were as follows:

  • disassembling the assembly (photo 3)
  • mechanical cleaning of joint areas (photo 4)
  • restoration of the joints of the constituent elements of the cross (photo 5)
  • mechanical cleaning of non-stick color film deposits (photo 6)
  • wet cleaning (photo 7)
  • repair missing items (photo 8-9)
  • gluing the constituent elements (photo 10)
  • filling in deep gaps (photo 11-12)
  • selective chromatic integration of gaps through water colors (photo 13).

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