Humor Monastery

Monastery in Bucovina Monasteries

Founded by Chancellor Theodor Bubuiog under Moldavian Prince Petru Rareş, Humor Monastery, built in 1530, is surrounded by ramparts, with a three-level brick-and-wood lookout tower. The narrow walls enclosing the last stretch of stairway were designed so that defending soldiers could kill off attacking Turks one by one. Humor's predominantly red-and-brown exterior frescoes (1535) are divided topically. On the southern wall's left-hand side, patron saint the Virgin Mary is commemorated; on the right, St Nicholas' life and miracles are captured.

Other features to look for include a badly faded depiction of the 1453 siege of Constantinople, with a parable depicting the prodigal son's return, on the right of the southern wall. St George appears on the northern wall. The porch contains a painting of the Last Judgement: the long bench on which the 12 Apostles sit, the patterned towel on the chair of judgement, and the long, hornlike bucium (pipe) announcing Christ's coming are all typical Moldavian elements. The three square images in red, white and black (on the bottom right) are unique to Humor: they represent the fire, the coldness and the darkness (or boiling tar) of hell.

Humor shelters five chambers. The middle one (the tomb room) hides a treasure room (tainiţa), which safeguarded monastic riches. On the right-hand wall, a votive painting depicts Bubuiog offering (with the Virgin Mary's help) a miniature monastery replica to Christ, a common motif in the Byzantine artistic tradition. Bubuiog's tomb (1539) is on the room's right side, that of his wife on the left side; above the latter is a painting of his wife praying to the Virgin Mary.

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