Wooden folk toys
In the past wood was the basic material used to manufacture toys, just like plastic is nowadays. Children were able to acquire toys in one of three ways: they could make them by themselves (among the exhibits from Małopolska’s Virtual Museums there is a bicycle made by a 12-year-old boy); they could be carved by adults or older siblings, a member of the family or a craftsman; or they could be bought on market days during local church fairs and from middlemen.
Among the most popular toys were wheeled horses and tiny tools, carts or wheelbarrows, horses pulling carts (see the cart from the collection in Małopolska’s Virtual Museums), hens pecking grain, carousels, cradles and various types of pinwheels and birds.
The imagination of children was activated by toys made of several linked wooden slats that could be assembled and disassembled. They often had some carved figures of soldiers and dolls mounted on them (see the march of Lajkonik from the collection in Małopolska’s Virtual Museums). Such sophisticated constructions with driving mechanisms and the beautifully carved and painted figures were often made by folk sculptors and handymen.
Kraków was one of the toy manufacturing centres — toys were sold here during traditional church fairs of Emaus and Rękawka that took place on the Monday and Tuesday after Easter.
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