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The sculpture was carved in green salt and represents St. Kinga of Poland. The figure stands on a cubic pedestal and is 1.85 m tall (2.4 m including the pedestal). St. Kinga is dressed in a habit consisting of the long tunic girded with a rope with knots to which a rosary is attached, a short coat, covering for the head (for forehead, cheeks and neck) and a veil covering the arms.

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The sculpture was carved in green salt and represents St. Kinga of Poland. The figure stands on a cubic pedestal and is 1.85 m tall (2.4 m including the pedestal). St. Kinga is dressed in a habit consisting of the long tunic girded with a rope with knots to which a rosary is attached, a short coat, covering for the head (for forehead, cheeks and neck) and a veil covering the arms.
The sculpture was probably made in the early 20th century and its author is supposedly Józef Markowski — a miner and sculptor known for making salt sculptures stored in the chapel of St. Kinga.
Salt sculptures of miners’ patronesses — St. Kinga and St. Barbara — were initially parts of the Passion Altar close to the Daniłowicz shaft at level III of the Wieliczka salt mine. The altar was described in the article by mining expert Edward Windakiewicz, entitled Kaplice w kopalni wielickiej (Chapels of the Wieliczka Salt Mine), published in 1938 in the newspaper, Życie techniczne (Technical affairs): “Close to the Daniłowicz shaft at level III, in the stone cavity, there is a beautifully preserved altar with Jesus Christ on the cross surrounded by the figures of St. Barbara, St. Kinga and St. Anthony.” Today, in this place there is a completely different and new altar of St. Kinga. It is not known when the figures of St. Kinga and St. Barbara were removed from here. In 1956 the Wieliczka Salt Mine handed them over to the newly opened Kraków Salt Works Museum in Wieliczka. The figures of the saints were put in the Russegger II chamber, in front of the entrance to the Widening (Szerzyzna).
St. Kinga was represented in two ways: as a young person wearing rich robes of a duchess or as an older nun wearing the habit of the Order of St. Clare. Jan Matejko was the only one who purposely linked both these conventions and painted St. Kinga as a 60-year-old lady dressed as a duchess equipped with items related to her life spent in the monastery of the Order of Poor Ladies (a prayer book, a crosier, the view of the convent in Stary Sącz).
Contemporary habits of nuns from the Order of St. Clare refer to clothes from the beginning of the order and consist of a simple, long, black tunic with wide sleeves, sewn in the shape of a cross, a black scapular that used to be treated as a cover for the tunic (today a constant element of attire); a long black coat reaching the nun’s feet, used during the liturgy and important rites of the order; a veil covering the arms (white one for novices, black one for nuns after professing their vows); a white covering for the head (on the forehead, cheeks and neck) representing modesty and sacrifice for the wedded one in the medieval era; a white rope girdling the tunic at the waist as an expression of the penitential lifestyle, with three knots symbolising three vows made during the profession: obedience, virginity, and poverty, and the so-called rosary of seven decades, suspended on a rope and used during the service of the seven joys of the Virgin.
In the salt mines of Wieliczka and Bochnia, St. Kinga was especially worshipped for over 700 years. The main element of this cult is the belief that she was responsible for discovering salt in the region of Kraków. According to the legend, St. Kinga’s dowry, i.e. layers of salt, was miraculously transported from the Hungarian land of Máramaros (currently Maramureş in Romania) to Poland. People believed in the constant care that St. Kinga spread over the salt mines and the miners working in them. In case of dangerous fires (in the mid-17th century), miners sought help and went on a pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Kinga in the monastery of the order of St. Clare in Stary Sącz. Various shrines associated with her were built in the mine: the chapel of St. Cunegunda, (i.e. St. Kinga) in the Boczaniec chamber (1645) with the painting depicting the saint, the salt bas-relief of kneeling Kinga wearing a habit in the St. Cross chapel in the Lizak chamber (1730) and finally, the most spectacular chapel of St. Kinga at the higher level II (1896). The cult of St. Kinga can also be seen by the various paintings stored in the underground museum exhibition, painted by Jan Matejko and Ferdynand Olesiński.

Elaborated by Kraków Salt Works Museum in Wieliczka, © all rights reserved

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Salt sculptures in the Wieliczka salt mine

Sculptures made in salt are typical of mines in Wieliczka and Bochnia. In our portal they are represented by images of St. Kinga and St. Barbara. Salt is a difficult material. It is softer and more flexible than stone; however, on the other hand, salt blocks may have invisible cracks...

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Sculptures made in salt are typical of mines in Wieliczka and Bochnia. In our portal they are represented by images of St. Kinga and St. Barbara. Salt is a difficult material. It is softer and more flexible than stone; however, on the other hand, salt blocks may have invisible cracks. One careless move of a chisel and a mallet may destroy the whole sculpture. Salt is very sensitive to the influence of humidity and fresh humid air. It is almost impossible to refill or renovate leached sculptures.   Picturesque green and grey sculptures, made mostly by miners and properly illuminated, are one of the advantages of the Wieliczka salt mine. The oldest salt sculptures come from the late 17th century. Very precious sculptures are in the chapel of St. Anthony (1698), the chapel of St. Cross in the Lizak chamber (finished in 1730, the place is not open to the public) and the figures of monks in the chapel of St. Cross in the higher level II (brought from the chapel of St. Kinga in the Boczaniec chamber, from the late 17th century). Many sculptures had not been preserved until now (e.g., sculptures of Vulcan and Neptune in the Łętów ball hall). The best known and most spectacular set of salt sculptures and bas-reliefs made by Józef Markowski, his brother Tomasz, Antoni Wyrodek and Stanisław Anioł starting from 1895 are stored in the chapel of St. Kinga at the higher level II. The tradition of carving salt sculptures has been successfully cultivated to this day in the Wieliczka salt mine.

Elaborated by Kraków Salt Works Museum in Wieliczka (Muzeum Żup Krakowskich Wieliczka), the editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums, © all rights reserved

See also:
Salt sculpture “St. Barbara”

Salt sculpture “St. Kinga of Poland”

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Salt sculpture “St. Kinga of Poland”

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Rzeźba solna „Św. Kinga” odc. B Tells: Piotr Krasny
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Rzeźba solna „Św. Kinga” odc. A Tells: Piotr Krasny
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