The Haiduc - Octavian BUHOCIU

The Haiduc - Octavian BUHOCIU

The alter ego of the shepherd is just a human type of the Carpathian people who arises from a vital ethnical need. His destiny has taken a brisk turn not because he has chosen it, but because of forceful circumstances, namely the intervening of an invader, a tyrant who destroys his belongings and disturbs forever his peaceful existence. This adversity, the Haiduc, has to face it bravely, taking to arms. He must become a man of violence as the only possible answer to his situation. He has no choice, the Haiduc essentially is a shepherd who cannot adjust himself to the sedentary life which the agricultural man has Nor can he lose his identity in the anonymous crowd which forms the population of a city. The shepherd, due to his peculiar structure of mind, has only one way of life; when the enemy deprive him of this life he finds it irreplaceable, and, since he cannot turn to another form of livelihood, he becomes a ,,HAIDUC".

His life will be extraordinary. In order to fulfill his destiny, he will go to hide in the forest as an outlaw. His revenge goes in the name and in service of his nation.

Although he has the improvised and temporary means of fighting as a guerilla,, he succeeds in the fight against the organized forces of the common enemy. Alas, there does come a fatal time, a critical moment in the existence of the Haiduc when the adversary forces are overwhelming. What shal he do? Save his life? Flee? Or, accept the tragic fate of the hero and die?

From time immemorial, the Romanian ancestors have been named the immortals "Gets" because of their belief in the immortality of the soul and their fearless, even disdainful attitude towards death.

This attitude of the Romanian man facing death with serenity is commonly revealed in the ballad of the shepherd "Mioritza", as well as in the many ballads of the Haiducs. In fact, the Haiduc does not care about his own well being or his own rights. He is an instrument of destiny put in the service of his Romanian people. He lives an extraordinary trend of life. He displays all magical forces up to the end relentlessly, and is conscious that he has no other way to accomplish his revolutionary mission. When he has succeeded, the fact that he has been captured does not count any more.

Figuratively he is a cuckoo or a wolf and thus the Haiduc follows the cycle obediently; but because he is also a human force, he breaks the cycle violently. What distinguishes the Haiducs from the Calusarii is his anticipated martyrdom; and in this way, he enters history, as for instance Tudor Vladimirescu.

Of special interest is the urge which compels the Haiduc "to go"; it is the same feeling of "dor" which drives the shepherd to start his cyclic wandering each spring:

,,For my soul is empty now,  and I'm longing to depart..." - or "When neighing I heard my horse, my longing to go went worst, longing for the green forest, fit for Haiduc to be in...!"

The magic of the forest, transformed again to the green color becomes stronger in the ballads of the Haiduc. The Haiduc identifies himself with the trees to such an extent, that he wishes to be clad in green, like ,,a tree covered with ivy".

,,Up my sweet and get me clothed. Take your yardstick and your scissors and for me you cut a coat, greener than the green leaf of a tree".

Haiduc-hood, although it is a natural phenomenon everybody's calling, because: Haiduc-ship is hardship on those who are unworthy of it."

The Haiducs come front various social classes. Some rose from among farmers, others from among able and cultured men, the aristocrats, others from shepherds. Any Carpathian man, if he was strong and generous enough could take upon himself this justificatory mission, the message is quite simple.

,,Leave your goats. Come with us. On the mountains, braves on horses, seven valiants on seven stallions..."

Haiduc-hood could be considered as a re-actualization of the myth of the Santoaderii or the historical reincarnation of the centaurs. Still the distinction is very important. The Haiduc-ballad is woven around a certain man in a ertain historic moment, as for example:

,,Through the lime-three of the shepherds way up to Mont Penteleu, I've seen the band of Gheorghitu," a grandson of Negoita; he was all wrapped in arms, which were shining in the sun..."

The series of actual heroes, who in the last two hundred years or so entered Haiduc-hood to vindicate the cause of the oppressed Romanian people, is impressive. The peasant people picked their exemplary lives and reverently weaved them into old pattern of folklore. Worthy to be remembered is the life of Tudor Vladimirescu. He was a Lieutenant of the Army, latter on a merchant, and finally the leader of the 1821 Revolution which swept away the corrupt, Graecized government of that time.

Heading an improvised army of peasants - the ,,Pandurii" - Tudor won some brilliant victories against General Ypsilanti's troupes. After getting treacherously trapped and slain, Tudor became a legend most cherished by the Romanian people, who used to sing his accomplishment and call him "Lord Tudor".

The Haiduc is portrayed as a cruel and decided man. He doesn't let himself get caught by some "Illo tempore". His life is limited. He lives for ,,hic et nunc"; ever ready for mortal battle.

His cruelty comes from the fact that he is engaged in a fight without ,,merci". Wearing a sheepskin cap, as well as a sheepskin vest, he is bristling with weapons. His face is rather frightening. His mustaches rise up toward his ears. The wild expression of his looks, especially of his iron like eyes, is the penetrating expression of the "fauve-men". The people feel chilly on encountering him - regardless of rich or poor - or even if they are his "own" men. His own men, the band, are witnesses of his conscious martyrdom of his sealed somber destiny, of his unavoidable, tragic end. This simple world of peasants, whom he calls to life and liberty, are impressed. by his striking personality, but the way to be followed is arid, very risky! And so, often, when the chief Haiduc is caught he remains alone. The band has left him. He will be killed. And_1ater on, they realize the immense emptiness which his death left around them.

Popular imagination endowed the Haiduc with supernatural warrior traits: He is invulnerable to bullets. He knows the secrets of wild life. The Haiduc, for instance, is said to have learned the secret of the "weed of iron" from a snake. He plucks it with due rituals and uses it in a most peculiar way. With his sword, or his knife, he slashes the palm of his right hand and inserts in the gash a blade of this magic grass, which instantly melts into his blood and makes him invulnerable to firearms!

After the summer solstice however, along with the receding sunlight, an excruciating anxiety starts breeding in the Haiduc's soul. This is an extreme aspect of the ,,dor", the premonition of death.

Here is a dialogue between the Haiduc and his sweetheart. She says:

,,Hi, darling! What befalls you? Die you don't, and live you won't! Here am 1, tired to death, moving the pillows for you, front your feet to your dear head, from the shadow to the sunshine; and walking hill after hill, plucking flowers, plucking herbs, to heal this sickness of yours."

He answers: ,,Alas, beloved, my fair one! Lean closer and kiss my mouth; then leave me, go find a husband. You could travel far and wide, cure for me you cannot find...! Nor could wizards and witches do it by their incantations, priests and monks with their prayers, and even not all the doctors in the world, because the disease that's sapping me, is the "dor" within my heart...!"

In the Huiduc-hood phenomenon, the woman plays an important role. Carpathian women are a wild breed. They like their men to be strong and brave, they admire gallantry and courage. For such a man, they are perfectly willing to endanger their own lives or they are even ready to enter Haiduc-hood! In the Haiduc-ballads, "mandra" ((the fair one, the beloved) and other women - be she the wife,  sister or the mother - always stands at man's side.

,,Our men just go and fight without fear of being hanged or of His Honor, the judge... ", says a ,,mandra" with pride. - ,,Stanciu was at the table with his men eating and drinking. He had no care in the world, Ilinca, his sister, was keeping guard... "When the Haiduc turns toward his mother, he says: ,,Mother, if you want me free, run swiftly, run and fly to the Moldavian country...!"

After the Haiduc's tragic death, it is "mandra" who misses him more, who worships his memory and sings his "song" for everybody, to listen, to remember his merits.

,Alei! You, dear brother mine, don't beg me to sing the song of the Haiduc-hood, sung by tender woman-voice! Should 1 ever sing this song, rivers would all go agog, fir-trees would go shaking, even mountains will be trembling and the valleys, howling...!

A last aspect of the theme is constituted by the three symbols concentrated in sole synthesis of a Romanian carol:


There are two apple trees
and two pear trees,
and there is a little bed.
Who lies on?
There is Christ, the Lord and Emperor.
On the bed, what is the covering?
A black saddened bedspread.
And there at the head,
is a bright red flower;
on the wall, a green peacock;
to his feet there are three pistols.
What is there at the edge of the bed?
The crown of the Emperor."

The people understand the Haiduc in his sublimity. Despite his fierce appearance and the awful deeds, he may have committed, they venerate his soul which he has self redeemed by his martyrdom in his way of approaching Christ 

Articol de Octavian BUHOCIU
contribuţie de Gheorghe BOGDAN