Ioan Croitor Bradescu, thoughtSeeker
He is a wood carpenter and lives in a small village in the Carpathian Mountains.
„This is a house pillar” he says, „a column, a never ending column. It is said that the infinite column has its origins in the folk art. You can observe the continuous increasing and decreasing of its shape… Brancusi took it and changed it into the well-known infinite column.
In this sculpture right here, there is our inner cross, the one that every one of us has, we just need to discover it. And when we do so, our spiritual awakening takes place – the sooner the better. Here is a work of friendship, a hug, this is one of the most important things you can achieve in life; friendship, love, an embrace… it is an extraordinary thing. Here there is a Boholz stone, I gave it a shape, it is a very old piece of wood, it looks like a Dacian flag, though a bit disproportionate.”
Ioan lives in a village far away from civilization, deep into the Carpathian Mountains. Despite the isolation, children from the neighbouring villages come to him to listen and learn.
Can you explain the different types of sculpture?
„In fact, the popular art of wood carving is a type of writing. Before the writing, there was the woodcut. A message was transmitted through every notch. The boy stood in the mountain, up in the woods, thinking about the girl in the village. What present could he make her? Out of a thicker wooden stick he was cutting a clothespin, full of notches, designed with symbols. And she? What present could she make for him? She was cutting a flute, in the same style, with notches and symbols… Various symbols that were not used by chance, they formed a story with meaning, a deep meaning.
The girl, with the needle and a piece of cloth, was suing the boy a shirt, ornamented with all sorts of folk symbols. It is said that when you dressed in folk costumes, you have dressed with the sky. There is so much cosmic symbolism that we no longer know how to read, to interpret. The moment you understand it, it transfigures you, compels you to humbleness, you feel alive.”
“First, there are the wolf teeth. The wolf’s tooth is a triangular crest that is the primary form from which one starts from. Then there are the sewer teeth, with a sloping side. Then many combinations begin, all the possible combinations begin from these simple carvings, like for example the serpent spine. All combinations are made out of triangles only. They are the primary form of sculpture. Only after you understand and master these you move towards the other types of notches, with several angles in a single drawing. There are all kinds of crosses; there is the back of the fish, the wolf teeth ornamented with small crosses, larger crosses; there are the spoons. As I was saying, this was the first type of writing, the wood carving. Only later the writing on paper developed. And then Google came, you do not even need the books anymore. You just type in and get all your answers. Or you think you get them.”
Describe yourself in 5 words
It’s hard, I somehow rediscover myself every day anew… I deal with life, with anything that life means. Today I was in the field and I swoon. It’s a fascinating job, you work with life. If you take a handful of corn in your hand, every seed is pure life, it’s a mystery… You put it in the ground and it rises so beautifully… You have to swear every thread of this pure life 2-3 times in a season, need to take so much care of every each and small thread; you are working with your heart and in your hands you have the life itself.
When a woman gave birth, our elders, from our today’s viewpoint we could even call them „primitives”, made a hole in front of the hut where the family lived, at the depth of around one meter. They took the child and put him directly into that hole in the ground. The child began to scream, to cry, as he was taken away from his mother. Then the small being saw that nothing bad was happening, and was beginning to study what was happening in the new world around him or her. Saw the sky, the light, the clouds, the night coming, the stars… The elders packed the child in earth and from the earth they took him into the river, all in all three times. And this was the baptism. The child was set with the energies of the earth and water. What a great difference between that and us today; what does the child see in the hospital after birth? Artificial light, some noisy toys above. Later they get busy with mobile phones at an early age. We then walk with our heads in the ground and it’s no surprise that we completely lost the connection with the sky.
You were asking about my five words?
There is the Birth, the life.
And there is the Search, the constant quest and our transformation through that search.
At a certain moment we awaken and we learn to become humble.
Then our transformation takes place and we begin to aspire for our salvation.
In the end, the salvation takes place, for every single one of us.
What is your preferred word? Why is it preferred?
The word „prayer”. Prayer transforms you, prayer is a conversation with heaven, it is our way back to heaven. Prayer is openness, a shout to the whole, to life. Like that child placed in the earth pit. Brancusi said that “when we stopped being children, we died since long.” Prayer it is something you do secretly, you with yourself.
Tell me briefly who are you and what are you doing?
That is controversial. I am not retired; I also do not have a job, yet I am not a true peasant either… I do not know who I am. I’m just trying to do more than nothing. I’m trying to make these beautiful children learn wood carving. When they will be my age, they’ll go ahead and they’ll teach it to someone else. They will say „we had a bald, old man who taught us. Uncle Ioan from Boholz”. This is how we become immortal, how we remain in the consciousness of a few people.
What motivates you?
The love of being useful.
What is your life recipe?
In short I became very faithful, I am a practitioner of prayer, it is not necessarily a recipe, I try to follow the path of faith. This brings us to salvation and salvation leads us to becoming one with the whole.
What do you feel when sculpting?
It’s great, it’s like a miracle, when you sculpt, you forget. And then you are focused there. Many thoughts pass through our mind like a bee hive. Focusing on the carving, with the thought of doing it beautifully, in a harmonious way, you forget about all other things. And then for a few moments, fragments, flashes, you are absorbed, you stopped your thoughts… and that is a moment of divine grace. When you are recharged, when joy comes to you and elevates you spiritually, morally, from all points of view.
Can you tell us a story that represents you, that inspired you?
At one point, at the bottom of mount Tampa, where at one point in time I had my workshop in one of the towers of the old city of Brasov, there was a man sitting on a bench. He was alone, had no children left and had the tendency to look at the news on TV, absorbing their negative, oft hateful messages. This gave him an anomalous state of despair, especially because of the fact that he was alone and had no one to spend time with. At one moment at time he thought to himself that he would better go in the mountain and hang himself with a rope under a tree. That day, a child passed him by and smiled at him. You know how children smile, not like us; they smile with their whole heart, with their whole being, sincerely, in a pure way. He was stunned by the child’s smile and forgot about his plan. He went back home so happy that someone might smile and maybe even talk to him again, he shaved, took a shower, dressed with new clothes and came back at the bottom of the mountain waiting for people to pass by. It is important to be mindful; we are passing through life with our headphones in our years and with our phone in our pocket. We messed it up, we forgot our path.
With absolute powers, what would be the first thing you would change in the world?
Me. I would change myself. To be good, to help everyone. Only after I would try to change others, after I learned how to do it with myself.
What is the question that you ask yourself every day?
When will I be able to no longer judge others. That is my question.
Find more about Ioan here.
You can also find him on Facebook and Linkedin.
If you are interested to talk with him, you can drop him an e-mail at cbioan [a] yahoo [.] com. He tries his best to answer, despite the fact that he spends a little amount of time in front of the computer.