What connects the valuables of the Scythian princess with a Tibetan medical kit?
What connects the Tibetan medical kit – one of the oldest items in the collection of the Ethnographic Museum – to the costume of the Scynthian princess – one of the most valuable exhibits of the Archaeological Museum of Kraków?
Both of them have found their way to the museum collection (directly or indirectly) thanks to Julian Talko-Hryncewicz.
Having finished his medical studies, Talko-Hryncewicz was sent for an apprenticeship to the small town of Zvenyhorodka. His interests and curiosity of the world made him embark on a journey around Europe in 1876. The tour aroused his interest in anthropology and archaeology. Having returned, he directed his attention to kurgans situated nearby Zvenyhorodka. Hoping to make some crucial discoveries, he excavated a fragment of the site, yet the ground was not generous to him. When abandoning the site, he could not have assumed that he was only a step away from a grand discovery. After some time the ground slid down, revealing its secrets – the entrance to one of burial chambers. Professional archaeologists were called on the spot and, supervised by Gotfryd Ossowski, exposed the remains of a Scythian princess together with the valuables, all of which are displayed in the Archaeological Museum of Kraków today as well as in the collection of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums. Further on, Julian Talko-Hrynckiewicz went to Siberia, where he not only treated its inhabitants, but also documented their life, conducting ethnographic research and inspiring local communities to open a museum and a library. He also correctly recognised the cause of the plague epidemic decimating the population of the capital of Mongolia (40 years later Albert Camus wrote his famous work, The Plague). Having returned to Kraków, he took over the Chair of Anthropology at the Jagiellonian University. He also became the co-initiator of establishing the Ethnographic Museum in Kraków (in 1911). The collection gathered over the years initiated the museum collection. One of the objects is the Tibetan medical kit, received by the doctor from the Polish exile, Witold Świętopełek Mierski.
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