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- Author Wiesław Tomaszkiewicz
- Date of production 1960s–1970s
- Place of creation Kraków, Poland
- Dimensions height: 18 cm, width: 24 cm
- ID no. MHF 21397/II
- Object copyright Museum of Photography in Kraków
- Digital images copyright © all rights reserved, MuFo
- Digitalisation Museum of Photography in Kraków
Lajkonik is photographed slightly from the bottom, framing the torso, turned to the right. He is holding a cup in his hand; he is receiving something to drink. The City Hall is visible in the background. The photograph was taken in the 1960s or 70s. It belongs to a series of five photos by the same author...more
Lajkonik is photographed slightly from the bottom, framing the torso, turned to the right. He is holding a cup in his hand; he is receiving something to drink. The City Hall is visible in the background. The photograph was taken in the 1960s or 70s. It belongs to a series of five photos by the same author — Wiesław Tomaszkiewicz — from the collections of the MuFo (“Lajkonik, preparations for performances. Makeup”), depicting Lajkonik before a procession. An important part of the programme, during Lajkonik's performances, were refreshments in a cup, both for Lajkonik and the city president, as well as hitting the audience with a baton, which supposedly brought luck to the persons hit (in the HPM collections there are photos from other performances of Lajkonik, including participation of the chairman of the City Council, Tadeusz Mrugacz, in the photograph of Edward Węglowski, MHF 22112/II, HPM 22113/II, as well as photographs depicting Lajkonik, performed by Adam Karaś or the Karaś Brothers).
Lajkonik’s Procession or Lajkonik’s Frolic, is a folk game that takes place in Kraków every year on the first Thursday after the feast of Corpus Christi (“in the octave of Corpus Christi”). The main character of the game is Lajkonik [a Tatar on a Zwierzyniecki horse], a bearded rider in a pseudo-oriental outfit, moving on an artificial horse attached to his belt, who traverses the traditional route from Zwierzyniec to the Main Market Square in the company of the Mlaskot band and the crew of raftsmen, dressed in Kraków and Tatar costumes. The first mention of the Lajkonik procession dates from 1738. The costumes were designed by Stanisław Wyspiański in 1903, then in the 1950s by Witold Chomicz. Since 1997, the ensemble has performed in costumes designed by Krystyna Zachwatowicz. Lajkonik has a turban, a Turkish caftan, a red kontusz, a belt, a jatagan at his side (a short Turkish sword with a curved blade), and holds a wooden baton in his hand. The horse is covered with a saddle with bells and a crescent, the neck of the horse is covered with a breastplate with three gold discs; a plume of white ostrich feathers protrudes above his head. The rider wears red leather shoes, not visible here. The legend claims that Leszek the Black’s Tatars came to Kraków, and the folk were defending the city. The little horse reminds us of the historical event of the Tatar attacks. Another view of the tradition seeks sources in pagan rites (Oskar Kolberg). For Ambroży Grabowski, Lajkonik in the times of the Duchy of Warsaw “has been resumed on the basis of its vague presentation”. The name may come from German. Michał Rożek cites the Slavic name lala, meaning death. A Lajkonik procession, a folk tradition — would this be a way of taming death?
Elaborated by Małgorzata Kanikuła (The Walery Rzewuski History of Photography Museum in Kraków), © all rights reserved