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“Suiseki” – “Kamogawaishi” type stone on a wooden mahogany base

Are stones precious? How precious can one stone possibly be? As it turns out, one stone can be very precious indeed, particularly if you consider Japanese Suiseki art stones. To quote Matsuura Arishige, whose Kamogawaishi stone on a mahogany base is part of the collection of the Manggha Centre of Japanese Art and Technology: The word suiseki refers to a single stone that has as its shape or surface pattern the ability to signify something far greater than the stone in and of itself. It is a tradition that has evolved to its modern form over many centuries.”

“Flower” calligraphy by Chuei Sekiguchi (alias Kyōso)

From the dawn of history, the Japanese have observed nature carefully. The elements of nature, including various flowers with their symbolic meaning, became frequent motifs used in art and ornamentation. To this day, these natural phenomena are reflected in Japanese customs and traditions. An old custom hanami (in Japanese watching flowers) is still hugely popular when, in spring, whole families have picnics under blossoming cherry trees.

“Ima/Now” Calligraphy by Rikō Takahashi

The calligraphy depicts an ideograph Ima今 (Now) written with black ink on white paper. At the bottom of the work, to the right, there is a red seal with the letters Rikoh in the Latin alphabet. This is the artist's name written in one of the versions of the Japanese language transcription. Novices in painting and calligraphy were encouraged to carve their own seals − the art of carving seals was called tenkoku.

The “snow” type “Ko-omote” mask of the “Nō” theatre

In the classic Japanese theatre, masks are the most important accessories of the leading actor shite. With these masks, an actor is able to impersonate characters of both real and imaginary worlds (e.g. a warrior, a young woman, an old man, as well as a demon, a god or a goddess, etc.). By putting on a mask, the character is transformed and the audience is able to discover their hidden secrets (e.g. the extraterrestrial origin of the character), or fierce feelings tormenting them (sorrow, envy, madness).

“Hiratemae” imperial tea set used during the summer season

Chaji may last for several hours and during this time guests have the opportunity to taste thick koicha tea and light usucha tea, as well as to refresh themselves with a light dish or to taste sweets. All the elements are chosen specifically for such a meeting. In terms of form and motif, utensils should match the season and the occasion. Even the dishes reflect the seasonal characteristics of nature. When speaking about uniqueness of each chaji, the Japanese use a phrase ichigo ichie, meaning: the only meeting like this in life, and the cultivation of this lifestyle is called the Tea Way.

Wooden feretrum

Feretron is a special type of paintings or sculptures with saints' that were used not only during the procession in church celebrations, but also as portable altars during pilgrimages.

Kiddush goblet

Kiddush translates from Hebrew as “sanctification.” The ceremony is celebrated at the beginning of the Sabbath and other holidays, by saying a special blessing over a cup of red sweet wine (or red grape juice).

Etrog tin

An etrog tin in the shape of a pomegranate with three leaves, oxidised and open in the middle. The exhibit presumably belonged to rich Jews, as only they could afford such a decorated, silver container, used to carry the etrog to a synagogue on the holiday of Sukkot.

Gypsy wagon

In the extensive exhibition devoted to the history and culture of the Romani/Gypsies, the exhibits particularly attracting the attention of visitors are the colourful wagons presented in the courtyard of the Ethnographic Museum. Preserved in the Polish landscape in the 1st half of the 20th century as well as in Polish pop culture thanks to the song by Maryla Rodowicz, they make an interesting memento of the vagabond, truly “Gypsy life”.

Tadeusz Kościuszko’s sukmana coat

The homespun sukmana coat is traditionally believed to belong to Tadeusz Kościuszko, sewn of ashen cloth, with long sleeves lined at the end with red fabric, widening from the waist down. The upright collar is sewn with a red fabric inset. On the collar, along the hook-and-eye clasp, at the waist and the coat tail cut, there are brown braids of woollen string. At the bottom of the right coat tail there are four horizontal zones of blue and yellow embroidered with wool.

Kontusz style outfit

This outfit, comprising the kontusz, żupan, trousers, kalpak, boots and karabela sabre, belonged to the Drohojowski Family from Czorsztyn. A full Polish national costume consists of an external part known as the kontusz and the żupan, the part which is worn underneath the kontusz. The kontusz was made of velvet. The back was cut in a characteristic manner with the so-called pillar, flared with a system of deep pleats highlighted with the sewn-in silk haberdashery.

Signboard with movable types (the Foltin family)

The signboard promoted services and products offered by Leon Foltin, who was a car mechanic and an enthusiast of motorisation in the pre-war period in Wadowice. He descended from the famous family of printers who, for almost 100 years, formed the publishing and bookselling market in Wadowice. Three members of the Foltin family with the Franciszek name — grandfather, father and grandson — cherished the printing and publishing tradition in the town.

The Wilamowice folk costume

Kęty and the town of Wilamowice, which was exceptional as early as in the interwar period, lie 7 kilometres apart. Wilamowice was founded as a settlement around 1250 by a group of newcomers from Frisia and Flanders who took care of their culture throughout the centuries, including their own dress and language, so different from the one in the communities nearby.

Device — coffee roaster

Only a few of those who have visited the museum in Kęty are able to determine what the presented object was designed for. It is similar in shape to tea brewers, which were popular until recently, but its considerable size excludes this function. The device dates back to the 2nd half of the 19th century...

Sculpture “St. Onuphrius”

The sculpture originates from a wayside shrine and represents St. Onuphrius the hermit. The massively built saint is kneeling with his hands folded at the chest in prayer. He is naked, with his body covered only with his long hair and a beard with a surface underlined with carved undulating lines. He has a broad face, hair with a parting across the middle of the head, a straight long nose, opened eyes and lips surrounded by facial hair.

Sculpture “Mother of God of Skępe”

Sculptures representing the Mother of God of Skępe were modelled after a Gothic figurine of Mary the Servant from the Bernardine Church in Skępe near Toruń. The legendary beginning of the sanctuary is associated with the year of 1495, when the church was founded and where the unusual glowing person had appeared.

Wayside shrine “Pensive Christ”

Until 1968, the shrine stood by a rural road. Its principal part was made of a thick pine trunk, and the figure of Pensive Christ of lime wood. The shrine is crowned with a sloping roof, its front supported with two columns. The pillar has been preserved only partially. Pensive Christ is represented here as Christ the King, as a royal crown sits on top of the sculpture rather than a crown of thorns.

Sculpture “Pensive Christ” by Leon Kudła

The author of this sculpture is thought to be one of the most eminent amateur artists. The sculpture represents a Pensive Christ. This image alludes to the Passion and is one of the most popular themes used among amateur and folk sculptors, producing numerous sculptural variations on the Pensive Christ: seated on the throne, half-naked or covered with a royal coat, with a royal crown or with a crown of thorns, with a sceptre in his hand or Adam's skull at his feet.

Sculptures of young couple from Indonesia

Loro Blonyo – sculptures of a young couple representing Dewi Sri, the goddess of rice, and her husband Sadhono. The Loro Blonyo figures are an inseparable couple. Like the deities, they are considered symbols of fertility, granting the ability to have many descendants and to ensure good harvests, happiness, and prosperity, as well as a long life in good health and peace.

Sculpture “Angel” by Karol Wójciak

The author of the sculpture, Karol Wójciak, also known as Heródek (1892–1971), is considered to be one of the most original amateur artists. The angel is represented in a primitive way. Its head and torso are made up of a block of wood with a round section, truncated flat on both sides. The wings nailed to the back are made of triangular pieces of wood with a non-planed surface.