About the ways of storing tobacco in Podhale

Highlanders kept tobacco (habryka) in leather pouches, the so-called miechóry, which were made of cat skin, sheepskin or rabbit skin. They also kept tobacco in pouches made from specially prepared pigs’ bladders, the so-called maharzyny, which were tied up with a leather strap. The tobacco stored in them did not lose its natural moisture and did not get mouldy. Miechóry were finished with long leather ostrzępki [frills], which were often plaited in braids and decorated with metal end-pieces. They were worn attached to the belt in such a way that the frills hung down freely. They remained in use the longest among shepherds and were made in Liptów.
Highlanders also stored tobacco and pipes in leather bags, which they wore slung over the shoulder, or in the pockets on the sides of the wide belt (opasek) or in a breast pocket. Into such leather bags, they also put a pick for pipe cleaning (przekolac), a tinderbox, flint, tinder, money, awl and sometimes even tools, a shoemaker’s last and salt for the sheep. The przekolac also used to be attached to the miechór with a chain or thong. Most frequently, however, it was attached with a chain to a shirt clip or to the tinderbox. The przekolac was cut from a metal sheet. It had an elongated and narrow shape and was covered with a fine pattern on one side. More seldom were pipe picks (przekolace) made of wound brass wire.
It is worth mentioning that from the late 19th century until as late as the 1960s, tobacco was one of the components of the wages paid to the shepherd (juhasy) by the farm owner (baca). In former times it used to be pipe tobacco and then later cigarettes.

Elaborated by Zofia Rak (The Dr. Tytus Chałubiński Tatra Museum in Zakopane), © all rights reserved

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