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Stela of woman from Kom Abou Billou

The upper preserved part of the stela shows an aedicula constructed of a semicircular pediment supported on two plain columns with papyrus capitals. The deceased is shown frontally, but with the right leg in profile. She is reclining on a mattress, supported on her left elbow resting on two pillows. In her right hand, which is unnaturally long, she holds a bowl. Her dress consists of a chiton and himation arranged in semicircular folds. The long her falling to her breasts is pushed back behind the ears. Her face has been hammered away. Opposite her there is an engraved representation of a sitting jackal. The animal with a long snout and raised tail is shown facing her.

Funerary stela pediment

The dove, a symbol of the Holy Spirit, is popular in Christian iconography. The motif is frequent in Coptic art, mainly on funerary stelae presenting the same kind of composition as above. A praying figure with two crosses or a stylized crux gemmata cross is usually shown between the columns. The motif of a dove is also known from wall painting; numerous representations of doves are known from murals in the hermitages at Esna in Upper Egypt and elsewhere.

Coffin portrait of a young woman

The image of an unknown young woman is an example of a coffin portrait: a special genre of portraits that emerged in close relation with the funeral customs in the Baroque period.

Tomb stele from Ginari Tafah 3

The third of the tomb steles found in the region of Lower Nubia, which belongs to the Archaeological Museum of Kraków. Similarly to the two remaining ones, the stele bears an inscription in the Old Nubian language. The inscription on the stele contains numerous grammar mistakes, mostly influenced by the Old Nubian language.

Damask fabrics from the grave of St queen Jadwiga

Queen Jadwiga d’Anjou died on July 17th, 1399, several weeks after she gave birth to her daughter, Elizabeth Bonifacia (June 22nd), probably due to labour-related complications (puerperal fever). She was buried on July 19th together with the child, who had died several days earlier, in the chancel of the Wawel cathedral, to the north of the base on which the main altar is situated. The queen was buried in rich clothing of damask with sleeves trimmed with strips of thicker fabric with rhomboid pattern. Burial clothing is one of the most moving mementoes of the great saint. It is difficult to determine the original colour scheme of fabric that have undergone a permanent change as a result of 500 years spent in a dark and damp grave. Undoubtedly, they were extremely expensive and luxurious fabrics, reflecting very high standards of living at the court of Władysław Jagiełło and his wife Jadwiga in late 14th century. The first of these fabrics, clearly oriental in style, was probably made in Egypt in the 15th century. Patterns visible on the other two fabrics are closest to Spanish weaving manufactures from the 13th, 14th, and 15th century.

Stele of the son of Chairemon and Isidora from Kom Abou Billou

The stele was purchased in Cairo at Eli Albert and Joseph Abermayor by soldiers of the Polish Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade during WW II. The scene depicts a deceased man lying on a klinai and a female orant standing opposite. The man lying in the bed is dressed in a short-sleeved chiton and a himation rolled at the waist, wrapped around his left hand. In his right, outstretched hand he is holding a kantharos. The woman standing in front of him is depicted en face, she is dressed in the same way as the man and is raising her hands in a gesture of prayer. Under the scene an inscription is placed. The name of the deceased has been preserved only partially; perhaps it was Sosas. The name of his father was Chairemon; the name of Isidora is also there, popular in Egypt in the Roman period. The figures are bound together by family ties.

Tomb stele from Ginari Tafah 2

The stele comes from the Christian necropolis in Lower Nubia (present day Egypt). It is one of the three stelae from that region presented on our website and one of seven stelae stored in Poland. The inscription placed on the stele is written in the Old Nubian language, which is indicated, for example, by the use of colons for dividing numbers.

Stela of man from Kom Abou Billou from the 1st half of the 3rd century

The deceased rests on a couch with mattress in a repetition of a composition that is already known from the Stela of the son of Chairemon and Isidora. The differences are insignificant: a wreath held in the extended right hand and a different arrangement of the feet, which are crossed in this case. Both the mattress and the pillows are decorated with rhomboids. The features of the face are not very clear, but a flat wide nose predominates.

Aset-iri-khet-es sarcophagus

The sarcophagus made of sycamore wood was found during the excavations conducted in 1907 in el-Gamhud by the first Polish Egyptologist, Tadeusz Smoleński. It is a “belly coffin” type of sarcophagus; an anthropoid one, with a flat bottom and a convex lid. The head of the coffin is covered with a blue wig. The breasts are decorated with a semi-circular necklace finished with falcon heads, topped with solar disks.

Tomb stele from Ginari Tafah

The sculpture was purchased in Cairo by soldiers of the Polish Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade during WW II. The stele comes from the Christian site in Lower Nubia (present day Egypt) in Ginari Tafah. The tombstone is topped with an imitation of a conch. Traces of dark red paint on the tombstone indicate that it must have been painted originally. The epitaph begins with the formula declaring the death of the person called Elisabeth.

Sculpture “Sikorski grave”

The sculpture Sikorski's Tomb was made in 1987 by Julian Stręk of Pustków-Rudki near Dębica, one of the recently discovered, leading Polish naive artists. It is a composition of many three-dimensional figures and elements made of pine wood, with oil polychrome of aquamarine dominant and with details in silver, walnut and blue colours.

Cartonnage mask

This anonymous cartonnage mask probably dates back to the Ptolemaic period (306–30 BC). The mask is gilded on the face but eyes, pupils and eyebrows are marked black. It has a typical blue wig (nemes). The representation of the deceased is definitely idealised and it bears no distinguishing features.

Marble plaque commemorating the burial site of queen Jadwiga

A plaque of black marble from Dębnik, situated to the north of the base of the main altar in the Wawel cathedral. The entire eastern part of the chancel is elevated above the floor level and forms a spacious platform for celebrations of liturgical ceremonies. In the middle of it and on the sides, there are three identical protrusions. In 1605, an Italian stonemason, Ambrogio Meazzi, was commissioned to dismantle the fence in front of St Erasmus altar (the ciborium was relocated to the Chapel of Our Lady) and move the tomb of Frederick Jagiellon, as well as to change the layout of stairs leading to the main altar.

A tombstone with the image of a “tree of life” from the double-apse rotunda – the so-called “church B” in Wawel

This tombstone consists of two elements and was found during excavation works carried out under the guidance of Stanisław Kozieł and Mieczysław Fraś in the area of the southern wing of building 5 of Wawel in the years 1966–75. The tombstone used to cover a tomb located in the area of the western apse of the double-apse rotunda relics, called church B” by the researchers.

Poison cabinet

Pomalowana na czarno szafka służyła do przechowywania w aptece leków o silnym działaniu. Zwykle na takiej szafie umieszczano napis Venena (łac. veneum — trucizna) oraz malowano symbole czaszki i skrzyżowanych piszczeli. Na drzwiach prezentowanej szafki zostały wymalowane białą farbą...

Karol Szymanowski's posthumous mask

Few mementoes and works of art directly associated with Karol Szymanowski have been preserved to this day. Therefore, the posthumous mask makes for quite a unique document. Suffering from tuberculosis, Szymanowski died in Le Signal hospital in Lausanne. The mask was made right after his death by a Swiss sculptor, Lucien Jules Delerse.

“Peter’s Head” from the cycle “Herbarium” by Alina Szapocznikow

Body casts appeared in works by Alina Szapocznikow in 1965, when she began to present her own fingers and mouth in sculptural material. In 1971, she made of polyester the crushed Autoportret–Zielnik [Self-Portrait Herbarium], regarded as an introduction to Zielnik [Herbarium] — one of her most important works made on the basis of body casts.

Painting “Son and His Killed Mother” by Andrzej Wróblewski

The painting shows a small boy embracing a woman who is presented from her shoulders down, without her head. The woman is dead, although it seems that she is returning the caress with a numb gesture of her hand. The artist painted her in a bluish azure and dressed her in a blue dress. He painted all war victims and dead people in this way — using the symbolism of blue: the sphere of shade, immateriality, and transcendence. The form generalised and knowingly made primitive as well as nearly evenly laid colour are for the condensation of essence and expression.

Bartek Materka, untitled [“Skeletons”]

Reconstruction of an open grave. By the manner of painting, the artist has emphasised the emotive quality of the represention of a post mortem.

Corn mummy with a wax mask of Osiris

The object was purchased from Mohareb Zaaki by soldiers of the Polish Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade during WW II. The mummy has a gilded wax mask. The sarcophagus with the head of Horus and a striated wig on the breast bear the necklace composed of a chapel with Ibis inside.