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Intimate conversation
One of the major institutions in Zakopane was the School of Wood Industry. It was founded upon the initiative of the Tatra Society in 1876 as a wood carving school “to support the poor highland population and local industry”, over time it became an important point on the cultural map of Zakopane because it educated many artists who made great contributions to its art.

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Intimate conversation

One of the major institutions in Zakopane was the School of Wood Industry. It was founded upon the initiative of the Tatra Society in 1876 as a wood carving school “to support the poor highland population and local industry”, over time it became an important point on the cultural map of Zakopane because it educated many artists who made great contributions to its art.
The works of both students and teachers of the school are included in the collections at the Tatra Museum. They include The shrine with a piper by Stanisław Wójcik. The artist was hired by the Zakopane School in 1908 and taught figural sculpture there until 1922. He was born in 1864 in Kraków. He studied at the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts and the Academy of Vienna. About 1904 he started his own studio of “sacral ornaments” in Kraków where he created works for the churches in Ciężkowce, Łapanów, Podgórze, as well as in Nowy Sącz and the artist’s home town.
The work discussed here was completed in 1910. It presents a highlander playing the bagpipes; he is leaning on the base of the shrine crowned with the figure of the Pensive Christ. In this intimate and realistic rendition, one can see the excellent familiarity with sculpting techniques and styles. The man is traditionally dressed in a heavy cucha jacket, an ornate belt, trousers and boots. He is holding the instrument in his hands and playing a melody. He is resting his head on the wooden base of the roadside shrine.
In the 19th century bagpipe playing started to disappear from Podhale. Musicians playing the bagpipes no longer played in village bands, at weddings or festivities. Their audience comprised mostly of tourists visiting the Tatra Mountains. Therefore, pipers could only be seen on the most frequented trails (Giewont, Kasprowy, Strążyska Valley), or in Krupówki. In the last quarter of the 19th century, folklore meetings started to be organised, e.g., highland evenings – to which persons from the intellectual elites who willingly visited Zakopane, were invited. In this way, musicians came into direct contact with their audience. This may be one of the reasons why pipers entered painting and sculpture repertoires of artists coming to the Tatra Mountains. At this point one has to mention the figure of Stanisław Budz Lepsiok of Poronin, better known under his nickname, Mróz. He became the hero of many art renditions, as well as interesting anecdotes.
Another “component” of the discussed work is the roadside shrine. This is a regular and well-known element of our native landscape. It originateds in ancient times. The custom of building shrines in Poland dates back to the late Middle Ages. This branch of art actually reached its peak only in the 17th century. Shrines became one of the forms of counter-reformation, which were offensive to the Church. They were and still are founded as a testimony of gratitude for bestowed graces. They come in various forms, made from materials such as wood, brick or stone. The key element of these structures is the depiction of saints, Christ and Mother of God, created usually by folk artists. The intercession of patron saints was to protect the villages against the designs of evil that, according to legends, took particular fancy to all kinds of crossroads. The shrines built in the vicinity of houses not only protected them, but also marked the residents’ faith and affinity with the Christian community, and acted as places where people could meet with God at any time. To this day people gather at shrines to prayer.
Stanisław Wójcik’s work may be interpreted as a rendition of an intimate conversation with God. The shrine features the sculpture of a Pensive Christ. This rendition of Jesus first appeared in the 14th century in the Netherlands, Austria and Germany. It was probably associated with the new tendency of devotio moderna (modern devotion) where the human aspect of Christ’s nature was emphasised. The image permeated folk art and became deeply rooted in it. In Wójcik’s sculpture, the prayer to the pensive Son of God flows together with the music played by the piper. God does not triumph, but is absorbed with the sounds coming from the instrument. What is characteristic here is that the man does not fall to his knees, but casually leans on the shrine’s base, which intensifies the impression of intimacy between him and Jesus.

Elaborated by Julita Dembowska (The Dr. Tytus Chałubiński Tatra Museum in Zakopanem), © all rights reserved

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Stanisław Witkiewicz vs. Imperial and Royal Professional School for Wood Industry in Zakopane

The first signs of interest in the culture of the highlanders emerged before Stanisław Witkiewicz’s arrival in Zakopane. The first Woodcarving School had functioned in this town since 1876. It was later renamed, the Imperial and Royal Professional School for Wood Industry (k.k. Fachschule für Holzbearbeitung in Zakopane), in which professional craftsmen were trained. The school operated under the rule of the Austrian occupier, and its curriculum propagated Tirol styles. Despite this, it was this school's pupils who created the first works inspired by the art of Podhale.

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The first signs of interest in the culture of the highlanders emerged before Stanisław Witkiewicz’s arrival in Zakopane. The first Woodcarving School had functioned in this town since 1876. It was later renamed, the Imperial and Royal Professional School for Wood Industry (k.k. Fachschule für Holzbearbeitung in Zakopane), in which professional craftsmen were trained. The school operated under the rule of the Austrian occupier, and its curriculum propagated Tirol styles. Despite this, it was this school’s pupils who created the first works inspired by the art of Podhale. During the years 1885 and 1886, under the supervision of the then school principal, Franciszek Neužil, a bed and room screen in the Podhale style were made, according to meticulously designed projects by Magdalena Butowt-Andrzejkowiczówna, on the special order of Countess Róża Krasińska. From the second half of 1880s, this decorative style became widespread in the School. Numerous furniture sets designed by Neužil were produced. These were of simple design, and the only thing that connected them with the highlanders’ culture was the abundance of applied ornamentation, hardly reminiscent of folk art. However, the principal himself was the first to describe them as the Zakopane style [zakopaner Style].
After settling in Zakopane, Stanisław Witkiewicz began to notice great potential in the production of the wood industry and the tradition of local wooden products. There was, after all, a school training professionals, as well as a large group of folk carpenters and craftsmen. However, Witkiewicz’s first contact with the Professional School for the Wood Industry did not bring the expected results. The school authorities still opted for Tyrolean-Viennese inspirations for their products. Apart from executing individual orders for sets of furniture stylized to look like Podhale art, highlanders’ patterns were simply considered “peasant” designs. Witkiewicz expressed the increasing antagonism between him and Neužil in the work Na przełęczy (On the col) (1890), in which he called the School “a seedbed of Tyrolean-Viennese taste, a German poison, killing the artistry of the highlanders”.[1] Undoubtedly, this situation encouraged Stanisław Witkiewicz to take up designing furniture and various equipment himself. The first example of this was the realization of (Villa) Koliba for Zygmunt Gnatowski.
In 1895, Edgar Kováts — a Hungarian — came to Zakopane to work as a teacher. In 1899, he became the new principal of the School. The Austrian authorities, in line with local politics, had become inclined to recognize highland designs as “the appropriate national style in Galicia”,[2] which was manifested in Kováts’s activity, especially in his book of templates entitled: Sposób zakopiański [The Zakopane way] (1899).
Kováts introduced his concept into the field of art with solid impetus, and he successfully competed with the Zakopane Style of Stanisław Witkiewicz. The highlanders’ culture, introduced by Kováts, entered the school’s programme, and the designs he proposed were adopted for use by craftsmen. Kováts won numerous orders and support from many personalities in the world of art. However, despite his all-out attack, Witkiewicz neither competed nor argued with him. He only emphasized that the Zakopane Style had nothing to do with Kováts’s proposals, and the two should not be confused. 
The Zakopane Style by Kováts proposed an eclectic formula. Witkiewicz accused him of superficiality in referring to the art of the highlanders, the use of forms other than Podhale art, as well as exaggeration in furniture and equipment decor. Kováts’s decorative patterns combined geometric, floral elements with Tyrolean motifs. They were overused and applied without full understanding of their purpose. The furniture and equipment were of conventional form, with variation added only by inlaid or carved ornamentation and decorative top panels.
The discussion about the priority of the “style” or the “manner” gained publicity, shaping artistic factions. Initially — supported by several architects — the superiority of “manner” was opted for, thanks to which, it was Kováts who participated in the preparation of the Galician Pavilion for the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900. And yet, the public debate between opponents and defenders of the Zakopane Style — who sometimes expressed their views via magazines and newspapers quite aggressively — restored favour to Witkiewicz’s style. Feliks Jasieński rightfully criticized the Paris Pavilion by describing it as “a synthetic-Slavonic-Byzantine-Kovátsov interior of a non-Polish home in a Polish manner”.[3] Over time, a broad group of Kraków artists and professors of the Academy of Fine Arts spoke in favour of the Zakopane Style, as subsequently did the Society for Polish Applied Arts, established in 1901.
Despite Witkiewicz’s ideological victory over Kováts, in practice, Zakopane carvers often used the Zakopane way in their designs, mixing its elements with Podhale art motifs proposed by the Zakopane style. An example of this is the library of the palace in Kluczkowice, which was constructed according to Witkiewicz’s design, although some of its decorative motifs were based on the Tyrolean patterns of the Manner. Such compilations resulted from Witkiewicz’s unclear method of drawing patterns from Podhale art, which was treated freely, as well as from the fact that his collaborators were very often professionally educated students and graduates of the School of Wood Industry.
Stanisław Barabasz, an artist and ethnographer, was the first Pole to be the principal of the School from 1901. From then on, relations between the School and Witkiewicz were normalized, because Barabasz “opened up this ‘chained-up’ institution to Witkiewicz’s concept” [4] by introducing the style of Zakopane to the School’s curriculum. The next principals were artists who had collaborated earlier with Witkiewicz, such as Karol Stryjeński and Wojciech Brzega.

Elaborated by Paulina Kluz (Editorial team of Małopolska's Virtual Museums),
Licencja Creative Commons

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

Bibliography:
Teresa Jabłońska, Muzeum Stylu Zakopiańskiego im. Stanisława Witkiewicza. Przewodnik, Zakopane 2002.
Jan Majda, Styl zakopiański, Kraków 1979.
Zbigniew Moździerz, Dom “Pod Jedlami” Pawlikowskich, Zakopane 2003.
Barbara Tondos, Styl zakopiański i zakopiańszczyzna, Wrocław–Warszawa–Kraków 2004.


[1] T. Jabłońska, Muzeum Stylu Zakopiańskiego im. Stanisława Witkiewicza. Przewodnik, Zakopane 2002,
 s. 19.
[2] B. Tondos, Styl zakopiański i zakopiańszczyzna, Wrocław–Warszawa–Kraków 2004, s. 85; za: M. Leśniakowska, Jan Koszyc-Witkiewicz (18811952) i budowanie w jego czasach, Warszawa 1998, s. 17.
[3] B. Tondos, dz. cyt., s. 92.
[4] J. Majda, Styl zakopiański, Kraków 1979, s. 8.

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What afflicts Christ from the shrine

Shrines and roadside crosses have become a permanent feature of the Polish landscape. One of the most frequently taken up folk themes by sculptors and most frequently encountered figures was — and still remains — the Pensive Christ. The attitude of the suffering Christ — who is lost in reverie — was close to the faithful, recognizing the enormity of human affairs and miseries in his concerned face. The vitality and frequency of this image is an example of attachment to a certain representational tradition. In Christian terms, it was symbolic and carried deep passion, but now is no longer fully readable.

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Shrines and roadside crosses have become a permanent feature of the Polish landscape. One of the most frequently taken up folk themes by sculptors and most frequently encountered figures was — and still remains — the Pensive Christ. The attitude of the suffering Christ — who is lost in reverie — was close to the faithful, recognizing the enormity of human affairs and miseries in his concerned face. The vitality and frequency of this image is an example of attachment to a certain representational tradition. In Christian terms, it was symbolic and carried deep passion, but now is no longer fully readable.
Ichnographically, this type of image was identified with the presentations occurring in German literature as: Christus im Elend, Christus in der Rast. It distinguished itself from a scene of Resting before Crucifixion (Preparation before Crucifixion, Anticipation), which was a phase on the Way of the Cross (situated between the Stations X and XI), which is not regarded as being an element of Station of Cross nowadays. The medieval writings considered it to be the most painful of all the Stations of Cross, when an exhausted Christ sat on the “stone of rest” and was deep in melancholic thoughts. In the 17th century, after the station of Christ’s Passion was ultimately arranged, the scene was deleted.
In literature and fine arts, this arrangement of characters has a relatively long representational tradition. In ancient art, for example, Hercules was shown in this way, resting after carrying out all his works; in the early Christian tradition, Adam, Job, and Saint Joseph — and thereafter also Elias — were all presented in such a fashion. Each of these figures is depicted while resting after enormous effort — beyond their power — during which they succumbed to deep quandary, the feeling of sadness, and everlasting regret. This manner of depiction was common in the iconography of many cultures.

Albrecht Dürer, title page of Little Passion, woodcut, 1511, source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain

Researchers assume that one of the sources of the popularity of this image was, among others, Albrecht Dürer’s drawing from the cover of “Little Passion” (a collection of 37 drawings created at the beginning of the 16th century), which was a source of inspiration, and an iconographic pattern for many artists.
The attributes of the Pensive Christ are elements associated with the passion and the consequence of situations prior to this scene: i.e. the mocking of Christ or the way to Golgotha. That is why Christ has a crown of thorns on his head and a coat on his shoulders, and sometimes he also holds a sceptre, a cane, or a palm in his hand. Such an interpretation of the image may indicate the merging of two types of presentations: Pensive Christ and Ecce Homo (from Latin: Here is Man). Often, a skull appeared at Christ’s feet, which was the skull of Adam. After reaching Golgotha — while Christ waited for the sentence to be executed — soldiers dug the hole to put the cross in. During this action, they came across bones, because — according to legend — the grave of Adam’s forefather was to be found there (hence the frequent depictions of the skull and crossed tibias on the underside of the crucifix beam). This way, the history of salvation ran full circle.
Frasunek in old Polish means worry, sadness, or grief. The presentation of the Pensive Christ is an extremely intense character study. All the formal elements of this image — from the body posture to the facial expression — reflect his psychological state. This depiction is very suggestive, because Christ becomes “human” in his concern and very close to a single individual. Therefore, it can be interpreted in many ways. Religion very often uses general, timeless symbols, adapted by iconography, which are legible both on an intellectual and intuitive level.
Knowing the genesis of the iconography, we see that certain threads persist in cultural consciousness in an unchanging formal and semantic form, but may be interpreted in many ways. Pensive Christ — as any other work — can be understood and perceived individually (without reference to the wider context), although placing this representation against the background of the whole passion allows its full image to be obtained, enabling us to learn its proper sense and deep meaning.

The only museum collection of figures of Pensive Christ in Poland is located in Jeżowe.

Elaborated by Editorial team of Malopolskas Virtual Museums,
Licencja Creative Commons

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

Bibliography:
Agnieszka Ławicka, Religijność ludowa — Chrystus Frasobliwy [access: 09.2019].

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Secrets of the piper’s work – ram or goat bagpipes

Pipers usually made their own instruments, but sometimes they bought elements that were harder to make (e.g., drone or head) from the Slovakian Liptov. Bagpipes could also be ordered from specialised manufacturers.
These instruments were made of easily accessible materials. The bellows were usually made of uncut ram or goat skin in full that was not tanned, but only...

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Pipers usually made their own instruments, but sometimes they bought elements that were harder to make (e.g., drone or head) from the Slovakian Liptov. Bagpipes could also be ordered from specialised manufacturers.
These instruments were made of easily accessible materials. The bellows were usually made of uncut ram or goat skin in full that was not tanned, but only cleared of the hair covering it. To make the bag waterproof, the inside was covered with tar. The hind legs were cut and the bag was sewn together, and the holes after the forelegs were used to insert the duhac (right leg) and drone (left leg). In the place of the animal’s neck, a wooden head was attached in order to place a gajdzica there. The instrument’s head was made of the yew tree, sycamore maple or ash tree, and the gnarl tree deformations were commonly used for this purpose. Adolf Chybiński also mentions that in the past the element that connected the air reservoir with the melody pipe could have been made from the animal’s natural head (Adolf Chybiński, Instrumenty muzyczne ludu polskiego na Podhalu [Musical Instruments of the Polish People in Podhale], Kraków, 1924). The gajdzica was made of metal, yew or spruce wood. Reeds, the so-called trestki, were fitted in its three ducts.
The duhac was made from a yew-tree, sycamore maple or bone. The drone comprising several parts with reeds inside was made of both yew tree and sycamore maple. The head of the bagpipes and the drone were adorned with tin and horn incrustations, and brass plates. Often the unused items present in the household were applied to make metal decorations, hence the metal rings for the bagpipes frequently featured some “mysterious“ inscriptions and symbols.

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

See bagpipes from the Tatra Museum in the collection from Małopolska’s Virtual Museums.
Read about bagpipes used by Podhale shepherds while tending sheep as well as during family celebrations.

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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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Scottish bagpipes... Polish bagpipes!

Although bagpipes are usually associated with Scotland, one must not forget that they were one of the most popular folk instruments used in old Poland!
They were also known in Podhale, where nearly every village had its piper who earned his living by playing this instrument...

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Although bagpipes are usually associated with Scotland, one must not forget that they were one of the most popular folk instruments used in old Poland!
They were also known in Podhale, where nearly every village had its piper who earned his living by playing this instrument. Even in the mid-19th century, they were used in village bands, right next to złóbcoki and basses. They were particularly popular among shepherds guarding sheep who were accompanied by the sound of this instrument during the spring trailing of the sheep to the Tatra pastures, and at bonfires during the summer pasturage.
The pipers played at village festivities, during family and annual celebrations, and at evening feasts. They accompanied travelling harvesters departing Podhale in search of work. The Tatra bandits most likely feasted to the sound of kobza pipes.

Provide a link to Highland robbers – welcoming of Surowiec painting on glass.

Popular even in the first half of the 19th century, bagpipes started to disappear in the 1860s. In the inter-war period there were only a few pipers in Podhale, and their music was disregarded by the local community and raised interest only among a group of regionalists and visitors who treated it as a local curiosity.
In today's Podhale there is a group of people making bagpipes and playing this instrument.

Elaborated by Anna Kozak (The Dr. Tytus Chałubiński Tatra Museum in Zakopane), Editorial team of Małopolska‘s Virtual Museums, © all rights reserved

See bagpipes from the Tatra Museum in the collection from Małopolska’s Virtual Museums.
Read about the secrets of a bagpipe player’s work and the materials these instruments were made of.

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Sculpture “Piper playing at the shrine” of Stanisław Wójcik

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