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- Author probably Józef Markowski
- Date of production early 20th century
- Place of creation Wieliczka, Poland
- Dimensions height: 185 cm, width: 67 cm
- ID no. V/24
- Object copyright Kraków Salt Works Museum in Wieliczka
- Digital images copyright © all rights reserved, Kraków Salt Works Museum in Wieliczka
- Digitalisation RDW MIC, Małopolska’s Virtual Museums project
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.more
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 Szerzyzna [the Widening].
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. Kunegunda, (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