We all know about an old decorative object that was a fixture in the homes of many Romanians: the ubiquitous carpet on the wall above the bed depicting the “Rape of the Serai”. However, few Romanians know that it was inspired by a work of art.
The ubiquitous “Rape of the Serai” quilt in Romanian homes was present in most homes more than 25 years ago. Nowadays, it has become a mockery of those who still use this kitsch as a decorative object in their homes. Few people know, however, that it was inspired by a work of art by the famous composer Mozart, entitled “The Rape from the Serail”, or in its original German title “Die Entführung aus dem Serail”.
Jokes such as “The people of Caracal are in a state of shock after several unknown persons broke into the local Museum of Modern Art and stole the most valuable object, the original folder of the Rape of the Serai”, or “Maximum envy among the Romanian cocalarii. They all wish they had been the first to have the brilliant idea of Robert Acrișor, a cocalero from Teleormina who customized his BMW using several carpets with the Rape of the Serai as upholstery”, are just some of the ideas put forward by the Times New Roman humorists.
Decorative object that became the butt of national jokes
Before it became a national joke, and even before it became a ubiquitous decorative object in Romanian homes, The Rape of the Serai is an opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a libretto by Stephanie Gottlieb.
“Constanta was shut up in the palace of Selim Pasha. Belmonte, a young Spanish nobleman wanted to free her, but he had no access to the palace, so he posed as one of the most famous Italian architects of the time, taking advantage of the fact that Selim Pasha was a great lover of architecture. At midnight, Belmonte enters the palace garden (serai) and by means of a ladder descends to a boat moored on the shore. They are caught, Selim Pasha arrives and in turn Belmonte and Constanta take the blame, each wanting to save the other. Impressed by the power of their love, Selim Pasha forgives them and sets them all free,” according to Ionut Puerava, who explains on his blog the story behind the work.
According to sociologist Cătălin Augustin Stoica, this quilt continues to be loved and still used in the homes of some Romanians. He explained to Adevărul that these carpets were popular objects through which people tried to embellish their homes. Also, cultural consumption depends from one person to another, but although it is just a national joke, such decorative objects are used in other countries too, so the differences in taste and decoration are just cultural preferences that do not make the reason for a judgment. In the video below you can watch the entire work that gave rise to the popular carpet.