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Origins and name
The Solomonar or Șolomonar (in German sources often Scholomonar) is a wizard who is believed, in Romanian mythology, to control clouds and rain. They are said to be able to control the movement of the "cloud dragons", to call a hailstorm, to cure diseases and to master the highest knowledge about the Universe. Their caste or order's origin is often linked to that of the Dacian priests. The term "Solomonar" ("solomonar" - singular, "solomonars" - plural) started to be used in the Middle Ages probably under the influence of the Judeo-Christian culture. It is of uncertain origin, though popularly it is connected to King Solomon via the addition of the occupational suffix "-ar". Another theory derives it from German Schulmänner ("scholars") in reference to the popular belief that solomonars attended a school. Friedrich von Müller (1857) reported the connection to King Solomon, along with a story from Schäßburg (Sighișoara in Transylvania) in which a Romanian mistook a robed student for a solomonar. The meaning of the term is very similar if not identical in all its occurrences because it always refers to an enchanter (practitioner of magic based on incantation), a summoner and master of high and subtle energies. A number of synonyms can be found in Romanian, including "zgrimințeș", and it is considered synonymous or closely connected to the widespread Balkan legend known in Serbo-Croatian (for example) as grabancijas dijak ("the necromancy student"). Some authors associate them with the legendary Scholomance and give the term as Scholomonariu, one particularly early instance in a glossary (Scholomonáriu, defined as Zauberer, "sorcerer") dating from 1781. As well as alternating the initial consonant between s /s/ and ş /ʃ/, earlier reflexes of the word in Romanian may add "-i" and the regular "-u" formerly found in the noun declension.
Appearance and special abilities
The Solomonars are said to be tall people, red-haired, wearing white capes on their shoulders and magic tools around their waists and they are most often seen around begging for alms or summoning and riding the "storm dragons" alone or together with Moroi. Fearing their wrath, people usually ask a Master Stonemason for advice. This Master Stonemason is a former Solomonar himself, who dropped the craft in favor of being again amongst people; his knowledge is highly prized because he knows the secrets of Solomonars.
The "Solomonars" were not supernatural creatures, but rather humans who learned special abilities. It is said that the children who become "solomonar" are born bearing a particular type of membrane on their head or on the whole of their body. Later, as the legend says, these children were to be selected into apprenticeship by experienced Solomonars, taken into forests or in caves which would usually be marked with encoded inscriptions. These children would learn the art and craft of wizardry, which they would use to fight against the dark forces of nature and of the human spirit. They are often said to be very secretive and if they lied or broke the caste rules, they were severely and cruelly punished. Some accounts state that Solomonars have a special book in which all their knowledge and power is gathered. This is the book they use during their apprenticeship and only one out of seven apprentices becomes a solomonar.
The Romanian tradition does not doubt their existence. There are even witnessing accounts in Transylvania and Bukovina regarding the existence of living solomonars. There are however many interpretations for the myth's origin, most of them connecting them with the Geto-Dacian priests, Kapnobatai and Ktistai, to which not only Christian concepts were added, the result being a syncretic product of myths and beliefs.
The Solomonars lived like ascetics, away from the civilized world, and sometimes they are said to actually live on "the other realm" although they are known to return to civilization and beg for alms although they do not need anything and wherever they are not received well, they would call a hailstorm as a means of punishment.
In early times, the solomonars were considered benevolent, but as Christianity began to supplement early beliefs, the "solomonars" started to be perceived as evil and the popular beliefs even invented an "anti-solomonar" hero type. Fortunately, like we saw, the belief in "solomonars" has not died out; it had diminished over time but it is still kept in remote locations of Romania. The "Solomonars" are often rather seen as cunning and intelligent people. However, generally speaking, people did and do not treat them as evil wizards.
- Herseni, Traian (1979). "Le dragon dace". Ethnologica (1): 13–22.[dubious ]
- Agrigoroaiei, Eugen (1981). Ţara neuitatelor constelaţii: folclor arhaic românesc. Junimea.
- Taloș, Ion (2002). Petit dictionnaire de mythologie populaire roumaine (in French). Grenoble, France: ELLUG. p. 188. ISBN 2843100364.
- Ștef, Dorin (2011). Dicționar de regionalisme și arhaisme din Maramureș. Editura Ethnologica.
- Müller, Friedrich von (1857). Siebenbürgische Sagen (in German). Kronstadt: J. Gött. pp. 177–178.
- Schmidt, Wilhelm. "Das Jahr und seine Tage in Meinung und Brauch der Rumänen Siebenbürgens." Österreichische Revue, 1865, 3(1):p. 211-226
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