Marian Raciborski’s Indonesian collection

Marian Raciborski was a botanist who stayed in Java from 1896 to 1900 at the invitation of the Dutch government to conduct research on ferns and crop plants; he worked in the Botanical Garden in Buitenzorg (the present-day Bogor), where he wrote 31 scientific works. Raciborski was one of the first Poles to see the beauty and originality of the rich culture of the Indonesian islands, a small part of which was also brought back home by him in the form of natural specimens (for the Botanical Garden of the Jagiellonian University) and pieces of art and artisan objects (for the Ethnographic Museum in Kraków). His entire ethnographic collection, of over 200 artefacts was donated by him to the Ethnographic Museum in Kraków just before he died in 1917, among which there was: a valuable collection of weapons, especially kris and other types of daggers (over sixty); a large collection of puppets from shadow puppet and puppet theatres (74); valuable fabrics with hand-applied batik techniques (10) and a number of other everyday objects from the island of Java, as well as many objects from Sumatra and Borneo.
The Indonesian collection of Raciborski, though it is not numerically large, has special value; the objects he collected were not mass produced for tourists, but had been created for the needs of the soul; their creators had made a huge effort to make the works as perfect as possible, because only then could they properly fulfil their role. The awareness of this contributes to the fact that today these objects seem to have their own soul and power to influence the viewer and their imagination.

Elaborated by The Seweryn Udziela Ethnographic Museum in Kraków, Editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums, © all rights reserved


See objects from the collection of Marian Raciborowski:
“Arjuna” — “Wayang Golek” theatre puppet
Tree of life “Gunungan” — shadow theatre figure “wayang kulit purwa” from Indonesia
Sculptures of young couple from Indonesia