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Shrine of the cabinet type, intended for hanging, with three figures presented in the scene of the Scourging of Christ. The shrine comes from the Podhale region but we do not know the name of its creator, the time of production and its exact place of origin. It was bought by Maria and Bronisław Dembowski for their collection during the years 1887-1893.

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Shrine of the cabinet type, intended for hanging, with three figures presented in the scene of the Scourging of Christ. The shrine comes from the Podhale region but we do not know the name of its creator, the time of production and its exact place of origin. It was bought by Maria and Bronisław Dembowski for their collection during the years 18871893. In 1922, it was bequeathed by Maria Dembowska along with nearly four hundred other items to the Tatra Museum. It is one of 14 sculptures in this, one of the largest and most interesting ethnographic collections of the Podhale region. The collection also includes bas-relief sculptures and figures in the round of Mary, Jesus, saints and angels. Most of them reference popular iconographic schemes. Compared to them, the shrine is an exception. The scene of the Scourging of Christ presented inside the shrine belongs to themes not very popular in traditional folk sculptures. Perhaps in this case, an impulse to create the shrine came from the Calvary mystery, which could have been attended by the sculptor, or from a description in the Gospel, for example, by St.  John, “Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged. And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns, and placed it on his head, and clothed him in a purple cloak, and they came to him and said, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ And they struck him repeatedly”. (John 19:1-3).
Figures of Christ and two soldiers (?) standing on his right and left side are attached to the rear wall in the shrine niche, above a wooden platform. The sculptures are very primitive, schematic and static, and they lack body proportions. The foreground figure is of Christ, shown centrally, en face, with hands bound on the front. It dominates over the accompanying figures with its size. Christ is wearing a dark blue loincloth and a short red cloak, and he has a crown on his head plaited of bark or bast with fixed wooden thorns. The pale pink skin of the body is marked with red spots which imitate dripping blood. The two accompanying figures are probably soldiers. Their clothing consists of short tunics tied at the waist, trousers, ankle-length shoes and caps. These figures have no distinct attributes, but a closer inspection allows one to notice places where there used to be props with which the figures were once equipped.

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

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Wayside crosses and chapels

Wayside wooden crosses were usually several metres high. With time, the wood decayed and had to be dug in again; this was usually done after All Souls’ Day. This action was repeated until the cross became quite small. Chapels and crosses, which were an expression of...

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Nowica, wayside chapel, 1918,
source:
 National Digital Archives

Wayside wooden crosses were usually several metres high. With time, the wood decayed and had to be dug in again; this was usually done after All Souls’ Day. This action was repeated until the cross became quite small.
Chapels and crosses, which were an expression of folk religiosity, were erected at crossroads, intersections, and also at the ends of villages or small towns, on the border between the inhabited space and the space of nature. It was believed that the presence of a holy sign would not only ensure the safety of the inhabitants, but also effectively ward off evil spirits and demons.
It was also common to put up cholera crosses that commemorated epidemics of this disease.
The founders of chapels maintained the shrine, as well as its surroundings. They planted trees nearby, mainly lime trees and chestnuts which bloom, smell and attract insects in the spring. Sometimes, it happens that by determining the age of a tree, one can also determine the date when the chapel was erected.

See in our collection:
Chapel entitled “Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry the Cross”
Wayside shrine “Pensive Christ”
Shrine with a scene of the Scourging of Christ


Currently, wayside chapels can be found not only in rural areas, but also in the centres of big cities. They are often a sign of the past of the places in which they stand and a testimony to how developing cities took over rural spaces, of how borders are being pushed back, and what changes are taking place in the landscape.

Elaborated by Anna Berestecka (Editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums), 
Licencja Creative Commons

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland.

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Folk shrines: churches, boxes and canopies

Shrines are a material expression of popular piety, so characteristic of the Polish landscape. Among their various forms, we can find both churches and shapes and finally different types of canopies.

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Shrines are a material expression of popular piety, so characteristic of the Polish landscape. Among their various forms, we can find both churches and shapes and finally different types of canopies.
The shrines were located in the centre of the village, on its borders, in fields, in the forest, along roads leading to a settlement, and especially at their intersections, in places of tragic accidents, battles, and extraordinary events. In the nineteenth century, the custom of hanging them on the walls of houses and setting them up in front of farmsteads became widespread. In Małopolska, including Podhale, shrines used to be hung from almost every cottage.
Shrines intended for hanging often had original forms, referring to the local sacral architecture. They served as a cover for the statues of the saints placed inside them, which were believed to guarantee safety and prosperity.
In Podhale, they were mostly depictions of Christ: Pensive, Crucified, Falling under the cross, The Holy Trinity, the Mother of God with the Infant Jesus, Pieta as well as the figures of saints, especially John of Nepomuk and Florian. The authors of the sculptures were local carpenters and woodcarvers who knew well various types of wood and the principles of its processing, and crafted them for the needs of the village community or a family circle. They found patterns in rural churches; they also obtained them from roadside figures or pictures brought from pilgrimage sites.
The theme of the sculptures depicting the Passion of the Lord, which were popular in Podhale, was influenced by the pilgrimage centre in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, where, in 1602, Michał Zebrzydowski funded the first Polish Calvary. Since the seventeenth century, people from Podhale, Silesia, Slovakia, and Hungary made pilgrimages to that sanctuary. Religious experiences related to the participation in the mystery of the Christ’s Passion on Good Friday, the opportunity to observe images of saints, and devotional pictures brought from the place of worship were often a source of inspiration for the folk artists from Podhale.

Read more about the shrines erected among lilacs and lime trees, roadside crosses and shrines, and about the iconography of the Pensive Christ: what troubles the Christ from the shrine.

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

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Shrine with a scene of the Scourging of Christ

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