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Stępa vessels, also called groats mortars, were commonly used in many houses as early as in the interwar period. Grains of crops were shelled and crushed by them in order to obtain the groats, including among others millet groans, or peeled barley. Groats mortars were also used to crack, that is grind, grains, more rarely to break grains into meal, and even to press oil from flaxseed.

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Stępa vessels, also called groats mortars, were commonly used in many houses as early as in the interwar period. Grains of crops were shelled and crushed by them in order to obtain the groats, including among others millet groans, or peeled barley. Groats mortars were also used to crack, that is grind, grains, more rarely to break grains into meal, and even to press oil from flaxseed. The work with the use of a groats mortar required substantial effort not only due to the considerable weight of a pestle, but also the time consumption of the activity. It is worth noting that mainly women operated a groats mortar.
The 19th-century groats mortar with a place to sit on, which is presented daily in the Museum in Kęty, was made of one piece of wood in which the groats mortar itself was hollowed out and also a seat which is supported on two legs. In this case, an elongated heavy stone served as a pestle, but wooden pestles (sometimes studded with hobnails) were used more often. Such a piece of equipment on which a person sat astride while holding a pestle with both hands occurred only on the territory of Poland where it evolved in Western Małopolska and Silesia. Wooden groats mortars in the shape of a high narrow vessel, operated while standing, were much more popular. The result of the development of this tool is foot mortars in which a pestle was fixed to a wooden pole fulfilling the function of scales. After stepping on it with a foot, a pestle was raised and then fell under its weight, crushing the grains.

Elaborated by the Aleksander Kłosiński Museum in Kęty, © all rights reserved

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Vessel for crushing crops (“stępa”) — with a place to sit on

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