In rural communities nothing happens at chance, all practices and individual or collective gestures have a certain meaning, even when or especially when they refer to the rites of passage, the cult of the dead or its „ideology”.
One of the signs that define the peasant way of naming and signifying death is the cross which, once released, ends the ritual „of the cycle pertaining to the liminality of soul. Only after the six week commemoration is organized and especially after the «shelter» is prepared too, the tomb becomes an eternal house on one side and on the other the soul can start its trip to „the ancestors’ land”.
The pillar, the cross, the calvary represent a chapter of an ethnography of death, both by image, aspect, symbolic meaning or composing element within the death „scenario”, and by the event that composes, by its rituals and meanings, a window (one of the many) through which one can look inside a people’s culture.
The present paper, describing the tomb crosses of Oltenia, is meant to be a reference in the updating of the „state” of the current mentalities and practices related to the cult of the dead by several precious pieces of information obtained by means of field research (in Salcia – Dolj co., Lungeşti – Vâlcea co., Pietrişu-Baldovineşti, Făgeţelu and Cornăţelu-Poboru – Olt co.), with the occasion of an investigation carried out in 2005 which aimed at observing the continuity of the cross-making craft, the changes interfered throughout time, concerning both the aspect/presence of wooden crosses with a certain specificity of this area, and the recording of those transformations produced in the attitude/mentality of the rural world concerning the current thanatological practices.