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Soviet Era Propaganda Tapestry at Bucharest National Theater

February 20, 2020

This piece is part of the ensemble of three remarkable tapestries decorating the Great Hall of Bucharest National Theater, all of them commissioned to local artists for the new building of the National Theater inaugurated in 1970, at the height of communism.

The large tapestry (451 x 346 inches, presumably one of the largest in the world) is called ”Ode To The Motherland”. It shows in the center upper side a bright stylized sun, and underneath a central personage in a sort of ardent attitude surrounded by many smaller figures -personification of the nation.

If necessary, the symbolism is made clear by the phrase in medallion at the bottom-right of the tapestry. It roughly translates ‘The nation shall fly high towards Communism” (“Sa urce natiunea spre comunism in zbor”), a most often used propaganda slogan back in the days of communism, in many patriotic songs and poems (that I was both amused and chilled to see!).

On the bottom left side there is a quote from a noted Romanian historian, Nicolae Balcescu: “History is the first book of a nation” (Rom. Istoria este cea dintâi carte a unei nații).

On both sides, in medallions, representative figures of Romanian history (and different emblems and symbols). Typically for the nationalist propaganda of the time, honored figures of Romanian past where ‘confiscated’ by the regime and presented as forerunners of the new, bright, communist era…

Bucharest National Theater tapestry

This tapestry is an excellent piece of Soviet Era art of impressive artistic value, characteristic for the ideological propaganda of the time. There are other such remarkable examples of good quality communist era decorative art, relatively overlooked, one can discover in Bucharest: it comes to mind the large mosaic on the rear facade of the Romanian Peasant Museum, the murals inside what is now Beraria H, or the mosaic in the entrance hall of the National Military Museum.

(Cris)

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