Carrying weapons was a privilege of miners as free people. Salt Works introduced uniforms for their employees in 1773. A sabre was an important element of the outfit and later also the mining uniform. Parade weapons are a special type of weapon that have almost lost their utilitarian functions in favour of representational ones.
During the first centuries of the existence of mines, small spoil was transferred from the face to the shaft in the basins and reeds; salt rocks and barrels were rolled with the help of walacz rods or pulled on the szlafy (the so-called sanice). The szlafy are mentioned only in 18th century sources; however, given the fact that they have been used on the surface long before the mine was created, it can be assumed that they were used in the Wieliczka salt pits in the Middle Ages.
A weight for the town mining scales, once standing on the market square in Olkusz. The ore and melted metal were weighed on it to calculate the tax due to the crown treasury.
Carbide lamps consisted of two metal containers, one on top of the other. Carbide was the bottom one, whereas the top one contained water. The carbide container had a pipe going out of it with a burner at the end. At the bottom of the water container there was a small hole through which water dripped slowly onto the carbide.
This is a miner's oil lamp with a wick. In the second half of the eighteenth century, miners began using tin oil lamps, which were mostly fuelled by oil mixed with kerosene.
The sculpture was carved in green salt and represents Saint Barbara. The figure stands on a cubic pedestal.
The earliest source of confirmation regarding use of oil lamps in the Wieliczka Mine dates back to the beginning of the 16th century, but there are no exact data on the shape and material from which they were made. Probably, two types of oil lamps were used: clay – to be held in the hand or adapted to be placed on a flat surface; and metal – with a hook for carrying and hanging, connected with a container for tallow. The shapes of both types are similar – pear-shaped and vertical.
Mine carts, called Hungarian dogs, appeared in the Wieliczka excavations at the end of the 18th century, and they were put into operation by the Austrian partition authorities, to whom the mine belonged at that time. The rather funny name of these transport devices is most likely related to the sounds made by their wheels while moving.
Saint Barbara, as the patron of good death, was worshipped above all by those who were most vulnerable to sudden and unexpected death: miners, steel workers, sailors, fishermen, soldiers, stone-cutters, and prisoners. Today, Saint Barbara is primarily considered to be the most important patron of miners. However, in Wieliczka, the miners used to pray primarily to St. Kinga, St. Anthony, and St. Clement.
Everyone knows the monumental painting Battle of Grunwald by Jan Matejko. Spectacular in its size, it shows very dynamic scenery, full of bodies of knights, warriors and horses. Only after a while, the spectator is able to spot the central scene – the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, sitting on a white horse...
In the Austrian Empire, officials, including miners, carried ceremonial sabres with their uniforms. The situation was different on the territory of Prussia, where mining epees were obligatory. After Poland regained its independence, a single pattern of mining uniform was adopted. Mining is concentrated in Upper Silesia; therefore, the dress code came to include epees. This has been the case up until today.
The parade miner’s axe inlaid with a bone base. The shaft ornamented with inlay in the form of plates with plant and geometrical motifs. The miner’s emblem (crossed hammers) and the inscription “17 DS 01” engraved on the base, on the other side there is the coat of arms of the Elector of Saxony.
The basic method for moulding the salt bed in the Wieliczka mine was to tear it out with the use of iron wedges; the cuboid blocks were then treated and transformed into barrel shapes or a cylinder for trading purposes. Those blocks were the main product of salt mines in the region of Kraków for six centuries — from the second half of the 13...
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.
Salt exploitation history is connected in Poland, with the Miocen marine deposits filling the Pre-Carpathian basin. The salt series thickness varies from 250 m in Wieliczka up to 1500 m close to Wojnicz. It is built of five cyclothems, that is sedimentation cycles, beginning from aggregated and argillaceous rocks (sandstones, mudstones, claystone), argillo-calcerous and anhydrite claystone to anhydrites and halites.