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Horn sceptre, the so-called bâton de commendement, from Maszycka Cave

The find comes from the excavations conducted in the Maszycka Cave by Gotfryd Ossowski in 1883 and is related with reindeer hunters (the so-called Magdalenian culture). The object was made from reindeer antlers. It is almost 30 cm long. It was found among the remains of several people (men, women and children).

Hussar half-armour

The armour is made of iron sheet; at the edges and faulds it is lined with brass borders covered with repoussé and stamped pearls. Under the rivets there are laid brass rosettes decorated in the same way as the borders. A helmet has a semi-circular skull, a peak with a nasal bar, a fauld neck guard and cheek pieces with a heart-shaped cut. A five-fauld breastplate with a fishbone in the middle tied with two leather straps.

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.

“Obesłanie” – metal plate bearing the emblem of the grand guild of Tarnów

One common object which was very useful in the life of a guild was the obesłanie – a sign used to authenticate transferred messages. The Obesłanie was used by a messenger when he had to pass a message from the guild elders to other members of the guild. They were informed of all important issues concerning the guild: meetings, funerals, celebrations and the like, and obesłanie had a similar function to a contemporary membership card.

Welcoming goblet of tailors' guild

The welcoming Goblet is one of Kraków's most valuable guild relics, preserved at the National Museum in Kraków. It was submitted to the museum on 19 September 1905, by the Association of Tailor's Companions, along with a collection of souvenirs belonging to the tailors' guild: a guild counter, a bell, a tray, and a crucifix.

Welcoming goblet

Welcome cup was a decorative container for drinking beer in guild inns during important celebrations. Its Polish name wilkom comes from the German greeting willkommen [welcome]. Each newly arrived guest had to empty the cup filled with an alcoholic beverage in honour of the guild. The production of such cups developed in Germany in the 2nd half of the 16th century, and later spread throughout Europe.

Greek inscription from Cirenaica

In ancient Greece, if you were harmed by someone whom you were unable to bring into court (e.g. a citizen of another city), you could seek compensation, with the consent of your polis, by seizing the property of the apprehended perpetrator or even the property of any other (innocent!) citizen of the same city from where the criminal came. This procedure was referred to as syle. Special places where individuals threatened with syle were offered sanctuary were known as asylia, which is the origin of today’s term “asylum”.

Soup vase with a monogram of Prince Eustachy Erazm Sanguszko

Sets of tableware were initially assembled of objects made in a different style, time, and places. Only in the 17th and 18th centuries uniformly decorated tableware, known today as services, began to appear. Until the beginning of the 19th century, there were no strict rules determining what dishes should be included in such a set; therefore, they were put together according to current fashions or the personal preference of the person ordering them...

Inscriptions on the walls in the former Gestapo prison at Pomorska Street

The Pomorska Street Branch of the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków is located in the Silesian House [Dom Śląski] on the corner of Królewska Street and Pomorska Street. During WW II, the building of the so-called Silesian House, which houses the branch of the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków today, was occupied by the Germans.

Ivory casket decorated with scenes from chanson de geste

The casket is cubical in shape and consist of six rectangular ivory plates bound together with metal nails and fittings. The top plate is fitted with hinges and serves as the lid. The front side is fitted with a rectangular lock decorated with an image of a tower and two persons: a woman with a large key in her hand and a man on his knees with his hands joined together. On the lid, there is a metal handle engraved in a diagonal checked pattern filled with simplified flowers. On the side plates, there are twelve figural scenes from medieval chance de geste, while on the lid, there are three court scenes. Narration in all of these images follows from the left to the right. The front side features the following images: Conversation of Alexander the Great with Aristotle, Phyllis and Aristotle, Thisbe and lion, Death of Pyramus and Thisbe, while the back side features: Lancelot fighting a lion, Lancelot crossing the Sword Bridge, Gauvain on the Dangerous Bed and Damsels freed by Gauvain. The left side features: Tristan and Iseult’s Meeting in the Garden, the Hunt of the Unicorn, while the right side features: Enyas’ fight with a savage and Old Porter Welcomes Galahad. The lead features a Knight Tournament in the centre, flanked by two scenes which together depict the motif of Siege of the Castle of Love. The Kraków casket is one of seven so called complex caskets, which can be found in world’s most important collections of medieval art.

“Corda Fidelium” cup

In the case of the Tarnów collection, the cultural background of the epoch has its counterparts in the Sarmatian culture, characterised by the owner’s need for the ostentatious presentation of his affluence and wealth. The primacy of nobility and magnates, who were in possession of huge estates and enjoyed wide privileges in the 18th century, influenced the development and industrialisation of the country.

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.

Jewel Box

This large container with a low barrel-shaped belly, a wide neck and an attached hemispherical lid with an arched handle is decorated with an engraved geometrical and plant ornament. These decorations are based on an adherence to the principles of symmetry and harmony according to Quran teachings. The container was made with great attention paid to its appearance and beauty as it is to be a reflection of a better world and to bring good luck.

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.

Stela of man from Kom Abou Billou

Banquet scene inside an aedicula consisting of two flat columns supporting a semicircular pediment, now lost. A papyrus capital is still visible on the column to the right. The deceased is depicted as a partaker in a banquet, reclining on a couch with two pillows and mattress. Horizontal engraved lines below the representation were intended for an inscription.

Stela of Bes from Kom Abu Billou

The stela with deceased shown in prayer in the inly such example among the objects from Kom Abou Billou in Polish collections. The style of a stela, dated to 300 based on the archeological context, is similar, although not exactly the same. Modeling of the details of the figure and of the dress suggests an earlier dating for this object.

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.

Miniature heart-shaped bottle

The silver heart-shaped bottle was intended for storing fragrances. On one side of the vessel, a decorative entwined monogram has been engraved (initials “RC” or “CR”?), topped by a crown. The motif is placed in a frame consisting of a decorative border featuring a simple ornament composed of triangles and matching the shape of the heart.

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.