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- Date of production late 19th/early 20th century
- Place of creation Ratułowo or Olcza, Poland
- Dimensions height: 7.5 cm, length: 14 cm
- ID no. E/2069/MT
- Collector from Stefan Szymański’s collection
- Acquired date 1952
- Object copyright The Dr. Tytus Chałubiński Tatra Museum in Zakopane
- Digital images copyright public domain
- Digitalisation RDW MIC, Małopolska's Virtual Museums project
A clay pipe shod in a nickel silver sheet with a wooden stem. Decorated with an engraved and stamped geometrical ornament and metal rings (zbyrkadła) attached. The pipe cover is finished with an eight-point, cone-shaped, metal pinnacle (cubka) crowned with the figure of a cock (kohutek) cut out of a metal sheet. The stem is connected with a pipe neck with a double chain.more
A clay pipe shod in a nickel silver sheet with a wooden stem. Decorated with an engraved and stamped geometrical ornament and metal rings (zbyrkadła) attached. The pipe cover is finished with an eight-point, cone-shaped, metal pinnacle (cubka) crowned with the figure of a cock (kohutek) cut out of a metal sheet. The stem is connected with a pipe neck with a double chain.
Such richly decorated pipes were used by Podhale highlanders on holidays at the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century. On a daily basis, they used smaller and less ornate pipes.
The pipe comes from the ethnographic collection of Stefan Szymański comprising 260 items and gathered in Zakopane in the years 1905–1939. It was added to the collection of the Tatra Museum in 1952. It included 22 pipes originating mainly from two pipe-making centres in Podhale, Olcza and Ratułów, and 2 przekolace – used to clean the pipe. This small collection was specially selected by the collection owner so as to document all the different kinds of pipes that could be found in Podhale in terms of both material from which they were made (copper pipes, nickel silver pipes, brass pipes and, less frequently, silver pipes) and their size and decorative motifs used.
Apart from simple pipes, they included pipes with a crest and a cock on the lid, attached rings and chains (single, double, quadruple), decorated with geometrical and flower motifs (e.g., edelweiss) and zoomorphic motifs (e.g., eagles). The collection also featured a Hutsul pipe from Żabie.
19th century literature and paintings almost always depicted a Podhale highlander with his inseparable pipe. Even Ambroży Grabowski, historian, bookseller and antiquarian from Kraków, wrote about highlanders in his 1830 guide on Kraków and its vicinity:
“They lead a monotonous life of shepherding: they only take pleasure in the constant smoking of tobacco in small pipes with short stems from which the smoke comes right up their nose; thus, even the smallest bit of this ‘dainty’ is not lost.”
The brass pipes of highlanders are also mentioned by Seweryn Goszczyński (1832) in his Dziennik podróży do Tatrów (Diary of the Journey to the Tatra Mountains).
In Podhale, pipes were smoked by nearly all men, and frequently by small boys, who rarely parted with them. They did not take them out of their mouths, even at work. The pipe they enjoyed most was the so-called zapiekacka (zapekacka) that was lit by putting it in a bonfire.
Wojciech Gerson wrote in 1888, “it is lit in the following manner: you stuff it with damp tobacco and put it in the bonfire which is burning somewhere in the pass or in the shack. When the damp tobacco glows on the surface, you can start smoking the heated pipe with the greatest relish.” In Na przełęczy (At the Pass, 1891) Stanisław Witkiewicz recalls the times when, after Father Józef Stolarczyk had erected the first church in Zakopane, the highlanders lit their pipes with candles and holy lamps.
A highlander’s pipe consisted of a clay shank shod with a thin, brass or nickel silver sheet and covered with a bulging lid fixed on a hinge, and a short S-shaped stem. The lid had a spiral outlet with which it was closed. This enabled one to smoke the pipe during the rain and strong wind.
At the end of the 19th century decorative pipe forms appeared in Podhale where the clay shank was fully clad with a metal sheet decorated with a geometrical ornament (engraved, minted and embossed), and fitted with a raised lid crowned with a knob or a cock figure. The pipe shank was additionally decorated with small rings fixed with small links, and connected with a wooden stem with think chains (recioski). These pipes were called robber-style pipes or parsywki, and used occasionally.
In the inter-war period the rich pipes decorated with cubka, kohutek, zbyrkadły and recioski started to fall out of use. They were “too heavy and difficult to hold by the teeth,” and their price was too high, therefore, few of the highlanders bought them. On the other hand, they were sought after by visitors and tourists in Zakopane, and were purchased as souvenirs of Podhale. The more easy-to-use modest pipes of nickel silver or brass sheet, the so-called królicki (made by Józef Król “Królicek,” pipe maker from Zęb, or according to his design) and olcanki (pipes made in Olcza), were no more expensive than industrially-made pipes, and were still bought by the highlanders, particularly as the price of pipe tobacco was lower than cigarette tobacco at the time. Bought only by the richest highlanders, cigarettes could not put the pipes into disuse altogether in this period.
The pipes were produced in several places in Podhale by village specialists whose main activity was land cultivation and who produced shirt pins, pipes, shepherd’s axes, knives and apron clasps in the evenings. The most famous centre for pin and pipe production at the beginning of the 19th century was the village of Zubsuche (“Dry Tooth”), and later the villages of Dzianisz and Ratułów which, even in the late 1920s, was home to several manufacturers of metal pins and pipes. At the end of the 19th century, pins and pipes were also made in Olcza, Zęb, Bystre and Bukowina, and, in the inter-war period, also in Poronin. Over time, as a result of the competition of cheap industrial products, the village manufacturers of pipes were forced to stop their work due to a lack of consumers. After World War II, in the 1950s and 1960s, only a few manufacturers worked in Ratułów and Bukowina Tatrzańska, making pipes and metal outfit decorations mostly for the many folk art competitions organised by museums and to satisfy the needs of regional bands and Cepelia shops. Today metal-fitted pipes are no longer made in Podhale.
The pipes were usually made of brass or nickel silver sheet, engraved and embossed on the surface with tiny stamp patterns. Nickel silver is an alloy of a silvery shine, containing about 40% copper, 35% nickel, and 25% zinc or silver, sometimes tin. The highlanders ordered their pipes directly from the manufacturer or bought them in Nowy Targ, where they were brought on market day by the pipe makers from Ratułów. They sold pipes in large quantities at markets and church fairs where the pipes were bought by inhabitants of the villages of Gorce, Spiš and Liptov. The pipes from Podhale also reached Silesia. In the inter-war period the pipe-makers from Ratułów delivered greater quantities of pipes to highlanders who traded them with Slovakian highlanders for aprons produced in Slovakia.
The short bent stems (piposory) on which the pipes were set were usually made by the buyers themselves out of a soft fir-tree wood or juniper branches. In the pipes used by farm hands, the piposory were beautifully engraved. One end of the stem cut out into a cone was set in the pipe neck, while the other was cut from the top and bottom so that it could be held in one’s teeth.
Podhale pipes featured mostly tiny geometrical ornaments (solid and broken lines, zigzags, triangles, diagonal strokes, ovals, crosses, stars, “suns”). The ornaments rarely included flora motifs (flower, branch) and zoomorphic motifs (flying bird, one- and two-headed eagle), while the anthropomorphic motifs (such as a horse rider) were quite unique and placed usually at the front of the shank. The two-headed eagle motif drew upon the national coat of arms of the former Austrian monarchy. The deep-seated ornaments were made of engravings and embossed with various stamps, while the convex ornaments were embossed from the bottom with stamps and pointed with a roulette.
The królicki and olcanki pipes were relatively modest in decoration. Apart from the vibrating stitch, parallel lines and small points, one could rarely meet any other decorative elements. As mentioned earlier, the robber-style pipe (parsywka) additionally had a decorative knob or a cock figure on the lid, and was also adorned with rings and chains that joined the shank and the stem.
Tobacco was known in Podhale from as early as the first half of the 18th century. There are documents from this period concerning the cases heard at the Nowy Targ court with regard to the theft and transport of tobacco. In the 19th century highlanders most willingly smoked strong Hungarian tobacco, the so-called basiak, smuggled from Hungary through the mountain passes in the Tatras. It was cut-up tobacco ready for direct use. The smugglers reached Liptov and Hungary through the Kościeliska Valley and the Tomanovo Pass. Smuggling tobacco from Hungary was punishable by heavy fines. The smugglers were caught in the Tatra Mountains by the Austrian customs officers referred to by the highlanders as finance, filance and habrycarze (Podhale inhabitants referred to tobacco as habryka), as well as jogry (from the German Jäger meaning shooter). These officers lived in the border villages, such as Chochołów or Białka, from where they made expeditions to the Tatra Mountains and entered into skirmishes with the smugglers, which often ended in death.
The collection at the Tatra Museum includes 134 pipes from the years 1880–1969 made mostly in Olcza and Ratułów by local pipe makers who were the best in the whole Podhale region. They include five Slovak pipes and one Hutsul pipe. The collection also includes a richly ornamented stem (piporas, piparek) donated in 1914 by Bronisław Piłsudski, a pipe-making workshop in 1888 (tables, tools and wooden moulds), bellows, many przekolaces and two instruments for tobacco cutting.
The pipe on display has a shape and S-bent stem typical of Podhale pipes. Its parts, shank, neck and lid, are richly decorated. The decorated stem is connected to the pipe neck with a delicate double chain which, apart from the function of securing the pipe so it wouldn’t fall to the ground, played a decorative role. The pipe is made of clay and nickel silver sheet, while the stem is made of a juniper branch. Small metal rings are attached to the lid with cubka and kohutek characteristic of the so-called robber-style pipes (parsywki). Such rings are also attached to the shank and neck of the pipe. On the surface are engraved ornaments of very fine broken lines made in a vibrating stitch (e.g., two crosses and two triple branches), three six-point stars embossed with a stamp, and an ornament in the form of a number of bulging dots made with a roulette (toothed circle). The stem is decorated near the base with three engraved leaves and a straight line. Above this pattern is a cross cut from which the stem’s ridge is slightly flattened till the mouthpiece. At the mouthpiece the stem has a metal sheet ring which is the carrier of the double chain.
As mentioned earlier, the highlander never parted with his pipe. This is probably the reason why the pipe was placed in the coffin with the deceased highlanders. Even in the late 1920s this custom was still observed, which was noted by Włodzimierz Antoniewicz, who in 1928 wrote the following: “it is known that till this very day deceased highlanders have been buried in the full traditional outfit and with the indispensable pipe, or sometimes even a shepherd’s axe.”
The motif of pipe smoking appears in the robber legends, mostly in stories about Janosik.
Jan Krzeptowski Sabała (1809–1894), a famous story-teller of Podhale, said that when the Liptov inhabitants hanged Janosik, he was hanging and smoking a pipe, and smoked an entire pound of tobacco before he died.
A highlander woman from Sierockie, born in 1859, remembered another uncommon way of using the pipe after a child was born into the family.
“We were lying on the ground laid with straw when a baby was born in the night. We had to light a fire like a shot. A torch was lit. The child was born very weak; they had to light it later. There was no woman to help, just father and mother. The mother lit the fire herself, but she was trembling from weakness. They put tobacco into the pipe and allowed smoke to enter the child’s mouth, or they took a cigarette, put it into the baby’s bottom and blew steam into the bowels” (Wanda Jostowa, Z życia góralskiej biedoty [The Life of the Highland Poor], 1953).
Elaborated by Zofia Rak (The Dr. Tytus Chałubiński Tatra Museum in Zakopane), © wszystkie prawa zastrzeżone © all rights reserved