- Julia Hasdeu's sepulcher I
- Julia Hasdeu's sepulcher II
- The mausoleum of Hasdeu family, from Serban-Voda Cemetery (nowadays Belu)


B-dul Carol I nr. 199,
Cod postal 105600
TEL: 0244 335.599
FAX: 0244 335.599


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  The Symbolism

          The history of the building and the signification of the first temple are described in the scholar’s book, « Sic cogito », the article signed by Ionnescu-Gion, « A poem-tomb » and the fragment from the letter sent to Hasdeu by the architect I. Socolescu, the manager of the revue « The Annals of Architecture ». The descriptions of the sepulcher, made by Gion and Socolescu, were certainly appreciated by B.P. Hasdeu; therefore, he inserted several fragments in the chapter « Excelsior » from « Sic cogito ». What is remarkable for both descriptions is the attempt to underline the constructive symbolism in the architecture and in the decorations of the funerary edifice. The temple-tomb exhaled « poetry and symbolism », as « nothing is unthought-of ». In order to understand the message of the temple, you have to decipher its symbols, which are positioned in a certain order. This type of language is universal, but it requires the effort of the initiation. Those who are not initiated, noted B.P. Hasdeu regarding the inscription on the tripods, cannot decipher, « as they don’t know where to start and consider the simplest thing as a mystery ». The scholar demonstrated that the field of symbolism was not unknown to him, as he used the symbols to give shape to his ideas.

          According to what he wrote in « Sic cogito », the sepulcher was built and decorated without having a general blueprint and an overall vision of the future monument, each detail being suggested to him « unconsciously (…), through a very laconic letter, or through a very rudimentary figure» .B.P. Hasdeu strongly believed that Julia’s spirit was the one who always inspired him for the temple, except one time, when the spirit of his brother, Nicolae, suggested the painting of the two angels on the mirrors. As he declared, he received the suggestions directly or through a medium. In the spiritualist archive, there were preserved countless documents from the period when the sepulcher was built; therefore, we know a significant part of the messages he received through mediums. We know that on October 16, 1890, on the page of a spiritualist manuscript, the scholar explained the idea written by the medium, that « in each unity there is a trinity », considering that this way Julia’s spirit ordered him to place three busts in the sepulcher: Christ’s, Shakespeare’s and Victor Hugo’s, all of them forming the trinity « whose unity required a new trinity, a total of nine », nine being the number of portraits depicting the members of the Hasdeu family, placed in the star-shaped pads, on the tomb’s windows. From the same source we find that on April 12, 1891, Th. Sperantia being the medium, the scholar received the suggestion to place two mirrors on both sides of the stairs that marked the entrance to the sepulcher, in order to « have the infinite ». B.P. Hasdeu followed the suggestion and later asked G.D. Mirea to paint on each mirror an angel whose face is reflected in the other mirror, creating an amazing feeling. Badulescu, the talented pupil of the artist, contributed to their painting. Therefore, during the same year, on August 23, also through Sperantia, he received another suggestion, that « the angels’ wings on the mirrors shouldn’t be white, but a shade of blue». On September 6, the explanation regarding the method of painting the angels continued: « in the blue fragments, meaning in the azure of the wings, some spots must be left, for the mirror to be seen; this will wonderfully highlight the real nature of the wings ». In « Sic cogito », B.P. Hasdeu mentioned the presence in the sepulcher, on the two mirrors, of an angel « with aerial azure wings, holding a letter in his hand ». The winged angels come from the antic iconography of the Greek gods and heroes, which were depicted in the Pompeian paintings. A manuscript from June 7, 1891, highlighted the idea of placing in the sepulcher « the faces of the apostles », except Judas’, for whom only a small pedestal with his name should be presented. In 1892, the apostles– terracotta busts, 25-30 cm high – haven’t been yet placed. They were made of terracotta, in Paris, in the studio of the sculptor Raphael Casciani, a specialist in creating religious statuettes and statues. An undated document included three questions addressed by B.P. Hasdeu to Julia’s spirit, with the well-known greeting: « Mon ange »; the questions were focused on the busts’ size, their shape - « busts or statues? » - and their material, « terracotta or … ». After receiving the answer, the writer sent the order to Casciani, following, as every time, the suggestions he had received. Along with these, other busts should have been created, a total of 26, which would have been placed near the existing busts: Julia’s, sculpted in Carrara marble, by Ioan Georgescu, and the other three (Christ’s, Shakespeare’s, Hugo’s) whom Julia seems to be looking at. The last two busts were placed in the middle of the sepulcher, Julia’s bust towards the superior altar and the other three placed upper, on a plate that united the lateral sides of the ceiling. According to a letter written to the scholar by the sculptor Ioan Georgescu, the author of the work, the poetess’ bust was finished on February 9, 1890.

          Other busts, without mentioning whom they represented, were in progress on July 12, 1891, in the Parisian studio of the sculptor Raphael Casciani, according to the information sent in a missive to B.P. Hasdeu by his former medium Vasile Cosmovici. The scholar noticed that the suggestions he received had their own role, and their materialization led to producing unexpected effects. For instance, the busts of Christ, Shakespeare and Hugo can be discovered only if one looks from a certain revealing angle. On June 10, 1891, Cosmovici sent from Paris to B.P. Hasdeu a song whose notes would be heard with the support of a music box. The scholar ordered it to the manufacturer Leopold Stern and placed it in one of the drawers of the « desk » that Julia used while studying in Paris, a desk which was placed right in the sepulcher. The spiritualist archive showed the fact that B.P. Hasdeu followed step by step all the suggestions that he received during the reunions of his circle, through his direct medium. An invocation written on the page of a spiritualist manuscript is a confession of the scholar to his dead daughter: « Lili, my angel, the desire to hear you comes first; then the need to be guided by you and by our relatives ». Another manuscript, dated on September 14, 1891, brought new elements: the painter Mirea went to the sepulcher, and the scholar had to order him to paint a skull with angel’s eyes, in a medallion under which would be written « Death is Life. No regrets! ». The medallion would be hanged in front of the desk, with the purpose to dry the tears and the regrets of those who come and write their thoughts in the temple’s registry. B.P. Hasdeu acted as he was asked; thus, on May 15, 1892, Mirea painted the skull, as we found out from the spiritualist archive. On the earthly side of the sepulcher, under the earth globe of above the library-throne, there were suspended a cross, a heart and an anchor, worked in nickel, in a chain painted in black, fixed in two spots. The suggestion to place them there appeared on September 17, 1892, being written by Arbore's hand, right in the temple, where, together with B.P.Hasdeu, was evoking Julia. The second day, the scholar thanked the Admirable Angel « for the solution of the mystery of the two spots ». « I’m impatiently waiting for the music» the scholar wrote on September 11, 1894, on the page of a spiritualist manuscript, where he would write the notes of the hymn « Sursum! ». « The Hymn should be placed on the other corner of the table » B.P. Hasdeu was asked in the session from September 16. The hymn would be engraved in black marble and placed on Julia's desk in the sepulcher.

          The article « A poem-tomb » of Ionnescu-Gion represents the most detailed description of that « architectonic jewel», as described by B.P. Hasdeu himself. Gion’s study could be considered more than a description; it seems to be a deciphering of the edifice’s language, at the terrestrial level – a language shaped by columns, capitals, library-throne for the important books of the humanity, woman sphinxes supported by an earth globe, crowns and pigeons, crossed pens, chains and flames, all suggesting the world, « the material sphere, with its activities and concerns ». A world that can be seen by the passer-by who walks on the « cemetery’s alley ». Down, inside the sepulcher, Gion discovered « the ideal sphere with its aspiration towards the infinite », where the language materialized into sculptures, paintings, works in iron and bronze, completed with philosophical texts and poetry, could be understood by the one who searches – the thinker/ the initiated. The two spheres – material and ideal – are the two halves of the entire edifice, which harmoniously coexist through their symbols. The stone sphinxes from Câmpulung - « symbols of mystery » - and the earth globe of white marble and with a diameter of 70 cm, with the five continents colored and the three stones that localize Bucharest, Rome and Paris, are the work of the sculptor Storck. The globe symbolizes the earth and the world. The words carved on the frontispiece of the stone throne, « Just sit for a while! », reveal the meaning of that monument, which stands on the stone books, the stone suggesting the eternity and wisdom. Sitting there and looking above, the visitor will discover right inside the small chapel of the throne a skull and the words that surround it: « Let the swallow make her nest! ». Hidden to the passers, the sculpted skull symbolizes the corporeal death, a prelude to a higher level of existence. A sentence that offers a meaning close to that revealed through the words besides the skull could be: « Death gives life! », a sentence written on a plate at the entrance to the ideal sphere of the sepulcher, following other two suggestive sentences (a total of three sentences): « Passers-by, look above! Thinkers, search inside! ». The descending to the sepulcher was made through a small stair made of ten steps; the last five of them could be elevated and anchored the same as a medieval mobile-bridge. Downstairs, the mirrors, the stained glass, the votive lights and the white of the marble produced light effects and heat. Instead of a cold and inhospitable tomb, a « temple of wisdom » was revealing in front of one’s eyes. In its center there was Julia’s bust, sculpted by Ioan Georgescu in 1890, placed on a socket guarded by two iron doors, on each of them being depicted a sun « with golden and silver rays, surrounded by 24 silver stars on azure background ». On the right side there was the poetess' desk. On the desk there were placed her books and a notebook for the impressions of the « everyday pilgrims », surnamed « the temple’s album ». Next to it there were seven chairs domino-shaped (four) and tripod-shaped or trivets (three). Golden and nickel chains bound the iron columns that still support the tomb’s vault. Out of the chains, crowns were suspended. The plates of laws (religious, moral, social and philosophical law) were carved in marble, on both sides of the stairs, under an octagonal blue star. The ceiling was of a « wonderful blue » and on the clerestory’s windows there were painted « roseate angels ». Inside the clerestory, on star-shaped props that represented three superposed hexagons, there were nine family portraits; to the right: Julia Hasdeu (1869-1888), B.P. Hasdeu (1838-1907), Julia – the wife (1840- 1902), Tadeu – scholar’s grandfather (1769-1835), Nicolae – the brother (1840-1860); to the left: Alexandru – the writer’s father (1811-1874), Valeria – the grandmother (1790-1860), Elisabeta – the mother (1824-1848), Boleslas – the uncle (1812-1886). Below, there was a small suspended altar, which seemed to be floating in the air. On that altar there were the three terracotta busts: Christ, Shakespeare and Victor Hugo. In front and behind them, in the alcove, there had been placed two mirrors, so the three busts and the angels could reflect, producing an infinity of images. Behind Julia’s bust and the small sun-shaped gates, there was the big altar under which there lied the earthly remains of the poetess. The ceiling above it suggested two pages in white marble, with the margins folded over the corners where there were the votive lights. God’s name was written in golden letters on the pages, in eight languages, « Greek, Latin, Arab, Jewish, Chinese, in hieroglyphs, in cuneiform and in davanagari ». Flowers and butterflies – the works of the painter Juan Alpar – completed the lively panel of the temple dedicated to Julia, a veritable « poem-tomb ». The sepulcher seemed to last for a long time, under the symbols on which it was built. Nevertheless, after B.P. Hasdeu’s death, the tomb, visited by thousands of people, fell into desolation little by little. Nowadays, the library-throne still endures, but nothing can be read now on its books back. The sphinxes and the earth globe are still in their place, as well as the cross, the anchor and the heart. The words carved on the frontispiece, « Just sit for a while! », were also preserved. From place to place there are missing some elements from the decoration of the surrounding fence: pigeons, letters of the name « Hasdeu ». The heavy iron chains and the flames are still preserved. Down, in the sepulcher, the humidity and maybe the human unworthiness have destroyed a lot: pieces of broken marble partially preserve the old inscriptions, the stained glass have disappeared, the same as the flowers, the butterflies, the angels, the portraits; only the stars remained. Julia cannot be seen now through the crystal window of the sarcophagus, because the glass was broken. A small coffin with her relics in a white bag was placed on the big altar, where there are still visible these words carved in marble:

          « By the will of God, this spiritualist temple was accomplished, after the precise and detailed plan given by Julia Hasdeu, the executor being B.P. Hasdeu, on his demand working: Sculpture I.Georgescu; Marble and mosaic: Axerio brothers; Iron: A.O. Czipser; Stained Glass: Ziegler and Schmidt; Bronze: Ph. Schweickert MDCCCXC By the will of God»

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