“Secrets of Everyday Life. Folk culture and related border issues from Kuyavia to the Baltic Sea 1850-1950” is a story about people and their everyday lives understood both as working time and holiday time. Many aspects of past lives are for us modern humans surprising, vague, almost exotic. Also for people living at that time, some daily aspects were mysterious but they interpreted them in accordance with centuries old traditions, according to the worldview applicable to that period. Many of the issues presented here have much earlier as well as later origins and even their modern continuation. We present life of people from villages and small towns. Above all, those connected with agriculture. Clearly, however, we marked a borderland nature of folk culture which is strongly influenced by the bourgeois and aristocratic culture. It was also an ethnic and religious borderland. People who lived there were mainly Poles, Catholics but we indicate the presence of other ethnic and religious groups: Germans, Russians, Jews, Protestants, Mennonites and Orthodox Christians. Objects from the museum’s collection illustrate their everyday life and answer some basic questions about the lives of people in the past. What they ate, what they wore, how they cared for their hygiene, how they worked and spent their leisure time, how they celebrated and what they believed in. The exhibition is divided into 8 parts. Each of them, for ease of reference, is highlighted with a different colour.
2. Ethnographic regions
The map shows the area covered by the exhibition. These ethnographic regions are included in the current Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship and Pomeranian Voivodeship prior to 1945. Around Toruń, Kuyavia and Chełmno land can be found. To the east Dobrzyń land. To the west Pałuki and Krajna. To the north Tuchola forest, Kociewie and Kashubia stretching all the way to the sea. Demarcated borders are sometimes blurred and the difficulty in the delineation is increased by the changes of state and administrative borders and the processes of settlements and migration.
3. Nature and history
The world of man encompasses nature and the culture he creates. Civilization changes, technical innovations and political events affect the daily life of even the smallest villages.
In the pictures around the map you can see some examples of different landscapes which can be found in this area. The distinctness of the regions is associated with differences in the environment: terrain, type of soil, drainage systems and vegetation. Depending on the environment we can distinguish economic characteristics of the areas. For example: the fertile valley of Żuławy was traditionally an agricultural area while forest management always played an important role in the relation to the Tuchola forest.
The century between 1850-1950 was a time of many changes in political, economic, as well as ethnic, national, social and religious spheres. The map presents the changing national borders of the Polish lands. Black line – partition borders between Prussia and Russia. Blue line – borders of The Second Polish Republic. This is in the years 1918-1939. Red line – Polish borders after World War II. Around the map, there are photographs and documents illustrating historical events of differing significance including: the participants of the uprising in 1863 (no. 1), Russian passport from 1901 (no. 6), instrument of ratification from the Treaty of Versailles of 1920 (no. 12), identity card from 1929 (no. 21), announcement of mobilization before World War II (no. 25), Polish border being breached by Wehrmacht troops on the 1st of September 1939 (no. 26), arrest warrant for non delivery of grain from 1953 (no. 30).
The multimedia presentation shows how the area and the state borders changed between the years 1850-1950. Poland did not exist as a separate country in the 19th century as its lands had been divided between the partitioning powers: Prussia, Russia and Austria-Hungary. The regions to the north and west of Toruń and the western part of Kuyavia were annexed by Prussia. The land of Dobrzyń and eastern Kuyavia found themselves in the Congress Poland which was dependent on Russia. Regions developed in different ways. It was evident that the lands in the Prussian partition developed much better than in the Russian partition. After World War I, pursuant to the Versailles Treaty of 1919, the free Polish state was established. As a result of World War II, which ended in 1945, The Polish People’s Republic was established. It adopted the socialist system and was under the influence of The Soviet Union. The change of state borders and the displacement of people – the processes of cultural unification and economic changes – are the next stage in the transformation of folk culture.
The board presents the Coats of arms of all state units placed in chronological order. The photo shows the German-Russian border in Golub in 1914. Please take a look at the restored Polish border guard booth from the period of 1918-1939.
5. Borderland areas had their own characteristics
The photographs show different border points and soldiers from various armies serving on the borderline. The Prussian and Russian regulations carefully systematised not only the appearance of the border guards’ uniforms but they were also ordered to wear a moustache. Border points were places where trafficking and services developed. Differences in prices of goods on both sides of the border contributed to the development of smuggling. Animals were walked across the border, agriculture produce, household goods as well as alcohol and tobacco were transported. The photo below shows smugglers arrested by Russian soldiers.
6. Enfranchisement and village community
The enfranchisement of peasants meant giving them the right of hereditary ownership of cultivated land which was previously owned by a royal, a noble or the church. This had a considerable impact on the spatial zoning of villages and methods of land cultivation. The board above presents a plan of the village of Osiek before enfranchisement when the land belonged to one owner and underneath there is a plan after the enfranchisement when the land was divided among individual landowners. In the Prussian partition, the enfranchisement began in the early 19th century and lasted for 60 years, and under the Russian rule it began after 1864. It was a process of partitioning lands and giving them to peasants and setting out land plot borders. This required the agreement between the peasants and landowners and mediation of governmental commissions in the event of any conflicts. The board presents the original parcellation plan of the Strzygi manner from 1903 authorised with the stamp and signature of the certified surveyor. Plots for 15 new landowners, a school and cemetery were set out in the plan. The property owned by the peasant determined the status, the size of the farm and the number of farm animals. There was a group of the wealthy landowners – peasants with a farmstead, and those who lived off the labor for the rich landowners. The photographs on the board show a bailiff supervising workers in the field and the group of rich peasants from Kuyavia.
7. Settlement and village layouts
As a result of many waves of settlement and changes in landownership systems and layouts of villages were varied. At the bottom of the board typical village layouts are presented. From the time of medieval colonisation – originate villages with buildings on both sides of the road and villages where buildings centred around the village square or a pond. From the 16th century on, Olender settlements started to appear in Żuławy and in the Vistula river valley. They were mainly associated with a population of Dutch origin belonging to a religious community of Mennonites. They represented a high level of agrarian culture and were capable of cultivating flood plains. A distinguishing characteristic of an Olender settlement were strips of land situated at a right angle to the river – visible in the photograph at the top. From the end of the 18th century, the immigration of German settlers increased. Villages which were erected at that time were very regular in shape and extended along the road – an example is shown at the top of the board. New layouts of fields were introduced after the agrarian reform of 1925. They were terraced with characteristic arcaded, wooden houses. This village layout is shown on the map at the bottom of the board. Above, we can see the historical development of the village of Dobrzejewice in the Dobrzyń land from the late 18th century to 1950.
8. Village self government
Upon enfranchisement, a village self government body headed by a sołtys (village head) began to play an increasingly important role. The sołtys maintained the population registration books, collected taxes, issued sale certificates of horses and cattle and assisted in military recruitment. He also summoned meetings and informed villagers about important matters. Sticks made of wood or roots were used to do so, often decorated with carved animal heads, given to a neighbor together with an oral or written message that the inhabitants were obliged to immediately pass on. In the Prussian partition, the sołtys was provided with a scepter capped with a metal knob. Sołtys’ regalia were badges pinned to his clothes and plates hung on the walls of his house. At night, the security of the local community was guarded by the night watchmen. They patrolled villages from sunset until sunrise and were equipped with a trumpet and a stuff with the inscription “watch”.
9. Farmstead layouts
The size and shape of a farmstead depended on the terrain, type of settlement, wealth of its inhabitants and the applicable law. In Olender villages farmsteads had buildings connected in a straight line or were “L” or “T” shaped. The layout of these farmsteads is visible at the top of the board, in colour. The most common were homesteads constructed on the square plan with separately erected buildings. The layout is visible at the bottom of the board, in colour. Farmsteads were fenced. Also pasture lands, marshy grounds and ponds were separated with the use of fences. Borders of the properties were marked out by field margins. Farmers often walked around their properties along their borders. Frequently, they would do it with their entire families to teach the children where the border of their inherited land was. Farms often lasted unchanged for many years past down from generation to generation – usually to the eldest of the children. Old landowners were provided with dwelling and subsistence, including detailed specification of their benefits. After their death, their property was governed by a will. On the board, there is an original purchase contract of the real estate by the son from his parents from 1899.
10. Building law and insurance
On the territory of the Prussian partition in the 18th century a series of laws were introduced concerning protection of villages against fire. The wooden buildings, wooden and straw chimneys, visible in the drawing, and the roofs made of straw and reed were at a particular risk. In order to prevent fires from spreading, villagers were required to always have ladders propped against the roof. Masonry chimneys were ordered to be built. The 19th century saw the first insurance societies. People insured buildings, animals and sown crops against fire, floods, crop failures and theft. Plates with the names of insurance societies were placed on the walls of houses. Insurance conditions were recorded in the insurance policy together with the characteristics of the farmstead. Volunteer fire brigades began to be established from the end of the 19th century. The members took part in fire fighting actions and the removal of damages after natural disasters.
It was common that almost every man living in the village knew how to process building materials. Nonetheless, buildings were constructed by professional builders who often held titles of master builders. Some of them labelled their buildings with special symbols, examples of which are on the board on the left. Frequently, the building’s completion date was clearly marked on the building, as for example on the pictured ornament placed above the door. The most important tools used by the builders included: an adze, a carpenter compass, a ruler and an angle bracket to determine straight angles. In the second half of the 19th century, professions became more and more specialised. The construction site was a place where joiners, carpenters, masons, roofers, stove fitters, stone masons and painters cooperated with each other. The end of the 19th century brought favourable conditions for the development of construction companies.
12. Materials and tools used in the rural building industry
For the construction of buildings mainly wood was used but also clay, bricks, stones and straw, reed and tile roofing were employed. The digital frame shows stages of building a clay barn exhibited in the Ethnographic Park. Of particular interest is the fact that animals were used to tread the clay. Wood, mostly pine, was the primary building material and structural element of buildings made of brick and stone. Simple tools were used in its processing: axes, hatches, adzes, chisels, jack-planes, wooden mallets, planes, drills, saws and measuring instruments – stencils and markers. To the right, we can see various types of doors – primitive ones from an outbuilding and richly decorated doors from a building associated with an Olender settlement. The presentation on the screen shows images of different examples of architecture – residential, commercial, industrial, religious buildings such as catholic and protestant churches, synagogues. The presentation also shows panoramas of towns and villages, streets, roads and fences. Original examples of rural buildings can be seen in the Ethnographic Park.
13. For the body. Clothes, hygiene and food.
To live, work and celebrate, a man had to first take care of his basic needs: to secure food and clothing, cope with illnesses and occasionally take care of personal hygiene. The intensity, form and meaning of all these actions depended on individual preferences, capabilities, standards and rules passed down through the family – it’s environment and cultural systems.
Clothes, dressmaking and maintenance.
The mannequins are wearing celebration costumes from different regions. On the first two mannequins from the left, we can see traditional costumes from Kashubia – the most distinctive is the female cap embroidered with gold and silver thread, worn by married women. The other mannequins wear traditional costumes from Kuyavia. A typical women’s costume feature is a silk handkerchief wrapped around a white cap and embroidered petticoats: white and red. Men’s clothes – dark coat with the cloak and the top hat. Further on, a costume from Pałuki which has a tulle cap with long bonds, popular from the early 20th century. The last mannequin shows off a female costume based on an urban style. Festive outfits, characteristic to a particular region, were often one the main elements of the cultural identity associated with the specific ethnographic group. Everyday casual clothing made of worse quality materials was marked by a simple cut. From the mid 19th century, more and more often, people bought clothes manufactured at a factory. And from the end of the 19th century, the influence of urban fashion intensified, which resulted in moving away from wearing costumes showing regional characteristics. In the countryside, in the 1920s and 1930s, people began wearing cotton underwear which is displayed in the cabinet next to the sewing machine.
14. Here you can find objects used to make homemade fabrics and objects which were used to keep them in good condition. In the mid 19th century, the materials that were used in sewing garments were produced mostly from flax and wool which women wove using reels. This activity is shown on the film next to the information board. At the top, there is a tailor shop sign. On the platform, there is a loom used to weave fabrics. Clothes were washed initially with the help of the so-called “lye” – a caustic agent obtained by pouring hot water in wood ash. Later, soup was used. People washed their clothes by the river, hitting the clothes with special wooden paddles. At the end of the 19th century, scrubbing boards, placed in tubs and platforms became common. On the right, there is a wooden washing machine. This type of equipment began to be used at the beginning of the 20th century. After having dried, the fabric was smoothed with a manual mangle or mangle with a crank. The film on the left presents washing with the use of paddles, the use of a scrubbing board and a mangle. Paddles and a hand-mangle hang next to the frame showing the film. On the right, above the washing machine, there are various types of irons.
15. Folk medicine and personal hygiene
The display case holds objects used to treat diseases. For this purpose, people often used herbs such as those shown in the drawings. Ill people often prayed to the Virgin Mary and Saints such as St. Valentine – the patron saint of people with epilepsy. People treated illnesses and minor ailments on their own also with the help of quacks. The display case includes: from the left – matted, tangled hair, the so-called “kołtun”. It was believed that human diseases were located inside it and getting rid of the “kołtun” eliminated these diseases. The photograph shows a woman with the “kołtun” wrapped in a shawl. The display case contains also: glass cups used in cupping therapy to treat, e.g. pneumonia; stones used in stone therapy to treat, e.g. skin conditions; prescription and brochures on disease treatment and prevention methods; tooth extraction tools – in the past this task was often performed by smiths and barbers; instruments used for bloodletting – usually by quacks; thin boards used to reinforced broken limbs. On the board, there is a drawing, the so-called “karawaka”, of a double armed cross which was used to prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as cholera. For this purpose it was placed along village borders or in cemeteries. The film shows a folk healer performing the procedure of reinforcing a dislocated hand and actions to prevent a hump in a child.
16. Welcome to the barber shop
For this arrangement, equipment from the barber shop of Wiktor Kuźmiński was used, which from the beginning of the 20th century operated in Golub in the land of Chełmno. In the window on the right wall of the shop you can see some trendy hairstyles from the past. In the display case in front of the entrance to the barber shop, there are items related to personal hygiene. Looking from the top: bottles of cosmetics, hair styling equipment – pins, curlers and hair tongs, shaving instruments and cosmetics packaging. On the board, there is a diagram presenting the design of a wooden toilet from the beginning of the 20th century.
Here you can see objects used to prepare food. Villagers practically lived on the products they grew in their own farms. The quality and quantity of food eaten depended on the financial status. From the beginning of the 20th century, rural food began to change, mainly owing to women’s associations and culinary courses. Even greater changes were visible after 1945. Among other things, it was the effect of magazines and handbooks. The products have been divided into four groups. Each group is presented against a different coloured background.
• Plant food – willow green background
On the left, there are manual stone querns used to process cereals into flour and groats. Above them, there are peels used to put bread into an oven. On the shelf, you will find wafer, cake trays and bread baskets. Below, there are dishes used to make groats and bread dough. Sometimes potatoes were added to the dough. They were also often used to make noodles, an addition to the soup made from duck blood. Further on, on the top shelf, a potato grater. Below it – a pot with a lid for the sour, rye soup – “żur” which is a soup based on sourdough formed during the fermentation process of the rye flour. On the adjacent wall, on the ceiling – a fruit dryer; below – cabbage slicers; on the floor – a pot and a pestle for pickling cabbage; beside is a pot used to make plum jam; above – there is a beet juice squeezer used for syrup making called “molasses” which was used instead of sugar. Further on, there is a press used to squeeze juice from fruit and accessories for its preservation.
• Dairy – blue background
On the platform, there is a device for separating cream from milk. Above, some decorative things to make butter which also performed a function of measurement cups. Beside, lower down, there are accessories used to make butter. Above them, there are cheese presses. White cheese with salt, chives and cream was very popular as well as processed cheese flavoured with caraway seeds.
• Meat – pink background
On the left, there are objects used during pig slaughtering. Further on, utensils used for meat processing: machine and cones for sausages, a trough for chopping goose meat and on the platform – a container to store the salted meat. People seldom ate meat. If so, they had mainly pork, sometimes beef and mutton. People had poultry on religious holidays or family celebrations. It was also given to ill people. Before important church holidays, people usually slaughtered a pig.
• Preparation of beverages – white background
On the wall, there are yokes used to carry water in buckets. Below, you can find coffee mills, coffee pots and cans. On the floor, there is a device used to make alcohol from rye or potatoes and a wine bottle.
On the shelves, there are kitchen objects. The equipment and accessories used in the kitchen evolved in line with an economic development of a village. The above had a great effect in the shape of the hearth. Various types of hearths are shown in the photos displayed on the board. Kitchens were often decorated with tapestries with inscriptions such as “Good wife makes good food”. Kitchen equipment may also be seen in the huts in the Ethnographic Park. The film on the left shows a traditional method of bread baking.
19. Now visit a shop from the 1920s and 1930s
These types of shops began to appear in villages and towns at the end of the 19th century. There, vendors sold food and household products. One could also exchange products produced in their own farms for factory-made goods. Frequently bought products included salt, herring, vodka, less often expensive goods such as sugar, sweetmeats, sweets, tobacco or tea and coffee. On the counter, to the right, there is a cash till. Next to the till there is a kerosene distributor. For villagers, a shop was a place to meet and talk about current events. The shopkeeper, who by virtue of his profession often travelled to a nearby town, was a liaison between the local community and the outside world. After World War II, that is after 1945, rural trade was transported into municipal cooperative chains.
20. Framework of everyday life
Family celebrations, connected with the cycle of life, marked its rhythm from birth until death. The celebrations were accompanied by rituals and customs passed down from generation to generation, which introduced order into human existence and gave a sense of security. Some of them came from pre-Christian rites of passage or rituals accompanying the introduction of a man into the previously inaccessible realm. For Catholics – Baptism, First Communion or weddings were very important and the events began new stages of life in the family, the church and the local community.
Birth, Baptism, First Holy Communion
In the display case on the right, there are items which were placed near a newborn for protective purposes: a rosary and the bottle of holy water, and on the cradle, there is a red ribbon which is an amulet against all evil. Baptism was usually celebrated on the first Sunday after birth. In the large display case there is a baptism attire from the beginning of the 20th century. In the pram, there is a sleeping bag in which a baby was brought to church. Above the pram, there is a picture ‘In the remembrance of the Holy Baptism’. Here you can listen to a lullaby and a children’s song. The next section features the ceremony of Holy Communion – an important event for Catholic families. Keepsakes from this day included pictures, rosaries, prayer books and photos.
Here you can see exhibits from the Kuyavia region from the beginning of the 20th century: a chest in which an unmarried woman gathered items necessary for her new house, a photograph of a groomsman in traditional clothes and his accessories, on the mannequin, in the drawing and on the photographs – there are wedding attires including a black wedding gown. In the display case, there are bonnets worn during the so-called “oczepiny” – a ceremony of admission to the group of married women; painting “wedding keepsake”, musical instruments of a village band: basses and violins from the second half of the 19th century and the clarinet. Here you can listen to a song and wedding music. In the corner, exhibits related to wedding anniversaries from 1885: sticks handed over to the married couple during a special mass, a wreath and a bouquet which are symbols of a long married life.
Among the objects associated with death, there is a pillow with a wreath – symbol of virginity, carried after the coffin of a girl. On the platform, there is a small box with a photo of a deceased woman. It was placed on the graves of children and young people. The mannequin wears a burial gown. On the wall, a painting with a photo in the remembrance of a deceased soldier. On the left, on the board, you can find information on the belief in ghosts. Underboard, there is a sickle which was found in a cemetery. It was placed inside the grave of a person who, as they believed, might leave the grave to harm the living ones. The sickle was believed to cut the ghoul’s head. Another kind of protection were the wax crosses displayed on the board. Here you can listen to songs sung while death watching.
Work provided families with food and other necessary objects. People spent most of their time working. On one hand, people saw it as a necessity but on the other as a great value. People farmed, bred animals, earned money doing handicrafts and trading. The well-being of a family and a whole social group depended on the abundance and the prosperity of farming. That is why many vegetative and agrarian rituals were related to work. They were supposed to ensure prosperity. These occurred in parallel with more and more frequently used modern methods of management to facilitate work and increase crop yields.
The presentation of items related to work begins with objects used to cultivate the land which was the sustenance of the rural population. Cereals which were grown by villagers included mainly rye, barley, oats, wheat and buckwheat which was processed into groats. In the second half of the 19th century, potatoes became popular, sugar beet was grown and rapeseed and flax oil were made. Farmers grew clover grass, vetch and lupine. On the wall, to the left, there is a display of photos depicting farming works. On the floor, there are two plows, this is tools used to plow the earth before sowing. In the central part of the exhibition, a mounted drill from the early 20th century. Above it, on the wall, a harrow used to crop fields before sowing as well as crop care. In the recess, you can see tools used in the cultivation of beetroots and potatoes and sickles which were primarily tools for cutting grains. Beside, on the floor, there are shovel plows for root plants, especially potatoes. Sowing the fields was men’s work and the cultivation of roots belonged to women. In field cultivation, cows and oxen were used as pulling power while in the 1920s and 1930s farmers used horses more often. On the plank wall, there are tools used during a hay harvest. Next to it, there is a mockup showing a barn interior and tools used to process cereals. In the middle, there is a fanning mill used after threshing. On the wall to the left, there are flails – this is, tools for the manual threshing of grains. Straw and wooden containers were used to store cereals.
24. Harvest time customs and festival of crops
On the two opposite poles, there are information and objects related to the customs and ceremonial end of the harvest. In the showcase, there are rings and bracelets made of straw that girls made during the harvest season for their favourite boys. Next to them, there is a tool used to sharpen the scythe during initiation rites. Young men in Kuyavia, who participated in the harvest for the first time, had to demonstrate the ability to scythe. When they did their work inaccurately, they were punished by whipping or with this type of a device. On the board, we can see an image of a young reaper in a wreath of wildflowers who along with others was taken to the landlord. The act of final admission to the group of haymakers consisted in a girl putting a shawl on the man’s head. The whole rite ended in games and dancing to music. On the opposite side, on the board, there are photos showing ceremonial end of the harvest time. The so-called “dożynki” – harvest festival organised by Polish farmers and those of German origin. In a display case, there is a wreath which was the symbol of successful crops. It was made by women from cereals, flowers and ribbons. One of them carried a wreath on her head or on rakes at the front of the procession walking to the manor. She was followed by men and women carrying decorated scythes and rakes. Singing songs, people gave the wreath to the manor owner who kept it until the next harvest festival. Grains from the wreath were used in the first sowing as a foretoken of good crops. At the end of the harvest festival there was food and dancing to music.
25. Gathering and hunting
Here, there are objects related to gathering wild fruit and mushrooms and to hunting. On the right, there are so-called combs used to pick blueberries. Above them, there is a device for drying mushrooms. On the platform, there are dishes and fruit baskets. Apart from blueberries and mushrooms, people picked sloe, blackberries, raspberries, wild strawberries, hazelnuts and herbs. It was done usually by poor people for whom it was also a source of income. Gathering was of significant importance in times of hunger, crop failure and wars. On the left, there are objects connected with poaching. This task was a source of income and a way to supplement foodstuffs. In the upper section, there are wooden traps for seagulls and crows, below there are traps for foxes, hares and partridges. On the left, from the top: a dagger, container made of horn used to store gun powder, hunting bag and rifle, objects for scaring off animals. On the platform, there are iron traps for bigger animals such as martens, weasels and wild geese.
This part of the exhibition is dedicated to the breeding of farm animals which supplied food products and manure used to fertilise fields. They were also used as pulling power. The most common animals kept by people were cattle, pigs, horses, poultry, more rarely sheep. Goose breeding was particularly popular in Kashubia and Kuyavia. On the wooden wall on the board, there are objects used to perform simple treatment procedures, among other things: a fire extinguishing sprinkling device used to clysterise cows, horse shoes used to treat hooves and objects for bloodletting. Below, on the platform, there is a chest and basket used to keep poultry and above the board, there are sheep cutting shears. Next to it, there is a cow’s harness and objects used by shepherds: stools, rods and cow’s bells. Animals were pastured by children or old people. Richer farmers hired shepherds.
27. Here you can see objects related to beekeeping which began to develop from the beginning of the 19th century. Earlier, the Prussian authorities prohibited wild beekeeping in the forests, in hives housed in hollowed pine trunks. On the platform, there are various types of beehives. The first one, on the left, in a hollowed tree trunk. Next to it, there are straw hives popularised by German and Dutch settlers.
The display presents fishing tools used both by professional and amateur fishermen. The photographs present fishermen catching fish and repairing nets. Below the photo board, there are tools used to puncture fish during fishing. Next to them, there are slings used in sea fishing in Kashubia. Below, on the platform, there is a wicker trap. Next to it, there is an anchor loaded with a stone as well as glass and tin instruments, thanks to which the nets could float on the surface of water; they were used in the Baltic. A set of tools and auxiliary instruments are complemented by a shovel used to bail water out of the boat, scoops for catching fish and basket for transportation of caught fish. Beside it, on the column, there is a club used to knock salmon unconscious. Efficient fishing required the knowledge of numerous techniques and tools whose application depended on the season, spices of fish and type of water.
29. Peat digging
Here you can find objects related to peat digging. Peat was used as fuel, bedding for animals and fertiliser. It became common at the turn of the 20th century, probably under the influence of German and Dutch settlers. Exploitation of peat bogs, carried out primarily by manor houses, was for villagers an additional opportunity to earn money in return for digging, loading, drying and transporting the peat. For some peasant families, sales of peat often constituted the major source of income. On the board, there is a photograph depicting extraction of peat in the 1930s in the Tuchola Forest. On the wall, there are knives for cutting peat and the spade for digging peat. On the platform, there is a peat processing machine from the 19th century, a mould used to shape pieces of peat and the so-called shoes for horses. They prevented hooves from bogging down in the soft ground.
30. Volunteer Fire Brigade
A photo shows members of the Volunteer Fire Brigade of Brodnica – a region of Chełmno in 1935. On the platform, there is a manual sprinkler from the beginning of the 20th century. Organisations of this type began to appear in the 1860s. Firefighters were responsible for fighting and preventing fires. Additionally, the stations of Volunteer Fire Brigades integrated the community. It was here where villagers organised dances, theatre performances, ceremonies for consecrating flags. Fire Brigades shaped patriotic attitudes by cultivating the Polish language and Polish customs. In the Ethnographic Park, there is a fully equipped fire station from the Chełmno region.
The film shows a potter’s workshop from the Kuyavia region. Potters’ workshops operated in places where clay was easily available. A potter purified and made clay more flexible and then turned pots in a potter’s wheel equipped with the foot drive. They were then dried and baked in a stove. Dishes made by villagers were simple and had few ornaments. At the end of the 19th century, pottery products began to be replaced with competitive factory-made products from metal sheet, vitrified clay, faience and china. On the platform, there is a potter’s wheel with a bench from 1930. On the shelf, on level 1, 2 from the top, there are decorative Kashubian ceramics ornamented with plant motifs, typical for the patterns from this region. On the remaining shelves, there are ceramics from Kuyavia, including the so-called gray ceramics manufactured by means of a special technique without access to air in the final stage of burning. On the lower shelf, to the right, there are pottery products from the region of Dobrzyń.
32. Cooperage and wheelwrighting
On the left, there are tools used by a cooper – a craftsman making barrels and other vessels from wooden staves. At the top, there are photos presenting the work of a cooper in different stages. Below, there are tools such as: axes, saws, compasses, templates for drawing different shapes and sizes of staves. On the platform, there is a cooper’s bench used to mount processed staves, parts for assembling the barrel and a finished product. On the wall in front of us, there is a photo of a craftsman working on a turning lathe, in front of which there is a work bench. On the wall to the right, there are tools and formers used by a cooper to make and repair elements of carriages, britzkas, sledges as well as farming and industrial tools. On the platform, there are fragments of a wheel, a device used to clamp the wheel when it was assembled and a finished wheel. The documents on the wall are master certificates. These types of workshops were popular until the mid 20th century. Later, the demand for stave dishes was much lower. They were replaced with cheaper factory manufactured products. Wheelwrighting went into decline together with the appearance of steel wheels and rubber tyres.
A smith used to make craftsmanship tools and household items such as: axes, cutters, choppers, irons, agriculture tools such as plows, harrows, scythes and the architectural details. A smith worked as a furrier, shod horses and crafted nails to fix them onto horses’ hooves. Above the information board, there is an iron sign of a smith and wheelwright shop. On the wall, there are documents, craftsmanship certificates. Next to smithery products: hinges, crosses, shears and curling tongs. On the platform, there are tools used by a smith. For example an anvil from the end of the 18th century, tongs used to heat pieces of iron in the fire, a hammer with a monogram stamp for marking products. Imprints of the stamps are presented on the board. On the plate propped against the platform, there are objects used to shoe horses: hammers, knives for cleaning hooves, horse shoes. In the second half of the 19th century, a forge could be found in almost every village. In the past, forges were situated in wooden buildings with thatched roofs. In the Prussian partition, for safety reasons, people were ordered to build brick forges. In the Ethnographic Park you can find a fully equipped forge.
34. At the fair
On the wall in front of us, there is a photograph from the beginning of the 20th century showing a village fair held in the region of Chełmno. On the left wall from the top: a list of gages and scales from the 1920s, a seed price list from the end of the 19th century and a fair schedule from 1930s. Below, there are grain gages used in the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century. In addition, there are pottery, cooperage and wicker products as well as other objects sold at fairs. Fairs were usually held in late spring when people traded mainly in animals and in the autumn when the main thing sold was farm produce. Some fairs were of a specialist nature, some of them were organised only for the purpose of selling animals or craftsmen’s products. On the board, there is a photograph of a furniture fair. In the display case, there is gingerbread sold at markets and church fairs.
35. Ceremonies and beliefs
Old folk culture was immersed in religious sensitivity. Sacrum was percived in every aspect of life. Activities, norms and behaviour were all conditioned by one’s viewpoint dominated by religious values. However, apart from the Christian religiousness, they were also full of strong, magical convictions coming from pre-Christian times. Hence these elements are combined in a single cultural pattern implemented both in church and at home, during official church services and folk customs, in the pace of church life and seasons.
The exhibits are related to the custom of carol singing; carollers walking around the houses and bringing good luck to people. On the right, there are animal monsters: horses, storks and sheep from the beginning of the 20th century from Kashubia. They are part of a group in which the leading part is played by a figure wearing a straw coat. When visiting houses, carollers sang carols and exchanged wishes for which they received small monetary contributions. Walking around the village in the costumes of the animals, symbolising health, power and fertility, was a form of custom with a pre-Christian origin. Similar costumes were worn by carollers in the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century in the Pomerania region, both among Poles and Germans. In the middle part of this exhibition, there are two carollers nativity crèches from the mid 20th century. They serve as an example of asigning Christian meaning to a pagan custom. In northern Poland, carollers started walking around villages from the beginning of the Advent period. Boys and men wandering with nativity crèches held performances about the birth of Jesus, sang carols and exchanged wishes. The mannequin wears clothes of a caroller from the epiphany group. In Kashubia, they also carried musical instruments typical for this region: devil’s violin – here exhibited on the mannequin, and “burczybas” – on the stand. It was an instrument emitting sound by pulling horse hair sprinkled with water. Carollers frequently carried a star. Here you can listen to Christmas carols.
36. End of carnival
Carollers groups also visited houses on the last day of the carnival. This custom was called “walking with a goat” and was the most popular in Kuyavia and Pałuki. Carollers disguised themselves as a goat, bear, horse, stork, but also as an old man, old woman, Jew, Gypsy, bride and groom. The visit of men disguised as animals, symbolising strength, vitality and fertility, were to invigorate nature and lead to earlier spring. At the end of their walk, the carollers organised a dance party called “podkoziołek” during which the girls head to buy dances by throwing coins underneath a wooden statue of a billy goat. The film shows a custom called “walking with the goat”. Here you may listen to the music played by carollers walking with a goat.
Here you can see instruments which were used by village boys to make noise on the Thursday before Easter. On one hand, it stend from a church custom of replacing church bells with these kinds of instruments to emphasize the period of bereavement after Christ’s death. On the other hand, it was related to the beliefs that the noise would frighten off the power of evil. On Easter Sunday in the morning, the sound of drums reminded of the obligation to take part in the Easter church service. The drum presented here goes back to the 18th century. In the display case, there are Easter symbols: crown of thorns symbolising the passion of Christ, and the figure of the lamb – a symbol of resurrected Christ, traditionally placed on tables during breakfast on Easter Sunday. Objects created by folk artists include a bottle with miniature Christ passion tools, a 19th century painting “Christ in the tomb” and a sculpture “Resurrected Christ”.
38. Przywoływki dyngusowe | Easter callings – board on the left
An Easter custom, popular only in Kuyavia and Pałuki, was the so-called “przywoływki” – Easter callings. Before Easter, young men prepared a list of girls who they wanted to call out. They wrote the surname of a young man next to the girl’s surname. The young man asked to call her out and paid ransom for her in the form of a bottle of vodka or in cash. They made up a short rhyme for each girl praising her assets or mocking her vices. The rhymes were read out publicly on Easter Sunday in the central location of the village. On Easter Monday girls were drenched with water. Until today, the custom is observed in Szymborze, Kuyavia. The Easter callings were not only a matrimonial custom but also an educational one since it underlined the vices of a girl.
Kite cutting – board on the right
Custom known only in Kashubia was the so-called kite cutting held most often on the St. John’s Eve. This custom dating back to pre-Christian times is connected with the belief that kite, a bird of prey, is a symbol of evil and seeing or hearing it was set to bring misfortune. This is the conviction on which the custom performance with a fixed scenario is based. It is worth mentioning that all the villagers took part in the performance playing assigned parts. The essence of the custom is cutting a kite blamed for misfortunes encountered by villagers in the previous year. Killing of a kite was supposed to bring luck and protect people against evil. Frequently, a kite, which was a rare bird, was substituted with a hen or crow and at times the role of the kite was played by an effigy or red flower. After the performance, villagers used to listen to music and dance.
The dominant religion in this region was Catholicism. Catholics coexisted with less numerous Protestants, Mennonites, Orthodox Christians and Judaists. This part of the exhibition displays cult objects which were kept by the people and used when praying and entrusting themselves to the care of patron saints. Representations of Jesus, Holy Mary and Saints sculptured by folk artists were also very popular. Paintings were made by craftsmen in the centres of the religious cult, for example in Częstochowa. Since the mid 19th century, in the countryside, people could buy printed paintings and ceramic statuettes. According to the church recommendations, they were supposed to consolidate proper religious representations, frequently being copies of paintings by great masters. The so-called “true paintings”, for example “Veil of Veronica” were much valued by the villagers. The sacredness was stressed by an inscription or stamp. More and more often religious books, especially prayer books, were printed. Books, primarily the Bible, played a significant role for the Protestants, in particular those of German origin.
40. The map shows pilgrim destinations, primarily Holy Mary Sanctuaries or the so-called “kalwarias” or places familiarising people with the passion of Christ. Pilgrims travelled to those places for different reasons: some prayed to regain faith, others to express their please or to thank for the God’s grace. When Poland was no longer independent, pilgrimages strengthened the national identity. Each place of this kind is related to a particular saint.
41. Chapels and crosses were erected at the outskirts of villages at crossroads or in places of mysterious incidents where people subconsciously perceived two sections of the earthly and supernatural worlds of sacrum and profanum. For instance a cross with double arms, the so-called “karawaka” and a Chapel with St. Rozalia and St. Roch were believed to protect people against epidemics. Further on, there are objects which according to folk beliefs had magical powers, for example a bell which was used to prevent storms and sprinklers for holy water used as remedy against evil.
42. The church played an important role in the local community. In the photo you can see a church interior, beside – fisharmonium – an instrument used during a mass. Above it, there is a feretory painting from the 18th century with relics of St. John of Nepomuk. Next to it, there is an altar-cabinet “Secrets of Rosary” from the beginning of the 20th century created by an artist according to an instruction given in his dream.
43. Free time
In traditional folk culture, in addition to work and celebrations, villagers did not have much time to relax. Most frequently, they took a rest in the evenings when, at last, they could pass orally the tales of creed from one generation to another. In the second half of the 19th century, under the influence of changing social relationships, people tended to devote more and more time to activities not related to work. It was a time when religious, cultural, sports and hobby oriented associations started to become established. The photographs displayed in this part of the exhibition illustrate different ways of spending free time. The photos on the right present members of associations which aimed at arousing social awareness, developing knowledge and fostering national values. Starting from the 19th century, Catholic organisations began to play an increasingly important role. The wooden box holds a badge of the Catholic Association of Female Youth from the 1930s. On the board to the left of the door, there are photos showing activities of the oldest Polish Sport Association called “Sokół”, which aimed at improving physical fitness of people. Sport was combined with patriotic education and cultural activities.
44. Welcome to the old Polish “izba” – room in a hut where, just like in the old times, you can listen to folk stories. Over the centuries in traditional cultures, knowledge was spread verbally from generation to generation. Especially during autumn and winter evenings people told legends, tales and stories when sitting in their homes. It was a type of popular entertainment at that time.
45. People also spent their free time playing music. This part of the exhibition displays musical instruments popular in the first half of the 20th century: accordion, mandolin, zither and bandoneon. Here, you can listen to the tunes played with these instruments. Next to the instruments, there are photos of amateur musical bands and theatre groups.
46. New Horizons
As the civilization was developing, people had more and more opportunities to acquire knowledge and to verify their views on the world. A school where one could learn how to read and get to know the reality, for example by reading publications contributed to the above. Welcome to the village classroom. The classroom comes from the 1920s and 1930s. In the cabinet, there are elements of a student’s equipment and school certificates from the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.
47. Military service and emigration
Another window to the world was military service which was most frequently carried out far from the home village or home town. The objects were bought or made by the people before leaving the army and becoming a reserve soldier. They served as a token connected to these important but hard moments of life. Poles as citizens of annexing countries, before 1918, served in foreign armies – Prussian and Russian. The knowledge acquired in the army had a significant impact on their future life. After returning to the home villages, they were regarded as possessing knowledge in life and capable of giving advice. They instilled new cultural modules in their environment. In the display case, in addition to the commemorative object, there is a large book with a list of men of conscription age from the years 1859-1920 from one of the villages in the Tuchola Forest. Next to the book, there is a display dedicated to the subject of emigration. Many new ideas related to economy or viewpoints appear together with the growth of emigration to both Americas and Western part of Germany. In the central part, there is a home altar from the beginning of the 20th century with inscriptions in English brought by immigrants returning from the USA. Next to it, there are scans of letters, documents and photographs, this is souvenirs from the emigration. Labor emigration resulting from the will to search for better life became massively popular in the 1880s.
48. Search for beauty
People were surrounded by objects which performed various functions: utilitarian, religious and ritualistic. When creating or buying them, people also paid attention to their aesthetics. They sought a particular colour, specific decorations and shapes which were pleasant to the eye. They did so by being attracted, perhaps unconsciously, to a sense of beauty striving to make the world more colourful. Over time, under the influence of landowner inspired in urban culture, the aestheticization of the surroundings became so important that objects which only served as decorations started to appear in people’s houses.
Aesthetics of celebrations
On the wall to the left, the most valuable show pieces of the museum related to folk art can be found. These are, among others, a small wooden altar from the beginning of the 20th century, a picture painted on a sheet metal entitled “Crucified Christ” from the second half of the 19th century and a Kashubian painting on glass, glued on a wood block entitled “St. Rozalia” from the beginning of the 19th century. The display case contains objects originating from Kashubia, from the second half of the 18th century: ceramic tiles and the holy water basin.
49. Other objects, paintings and sculptures, depict the aesthetic preferences of villagers from the past. The works of art are dominated by religious themes, symmetrical composition, lack of proportion, decorativeness and rich colours.
50. In the past the majority of folk artists were anonymous. However, at times, people remembered names of the most eminent sculptors. On the arch of the wall, you can see works of four artists created in the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century.
51. Aesthetics of everyday life
A sense of beauty inherent to humans is reflected in striving to surround yourself with objects regarded as pretty. This pertains not only to works of art but also to more practical objects of everyday use. The aesthetic value can be found in all aspects of daily life; in the landscape: compositions of greenery, the exteriors of households, fences, pigeon houses, crosses, chapels. In utility objects: furniture, pots, baskets, tools used for work, toys or objects connected with the religious cult. Paying attention to the beautiful appearance of even the most casual, everyday objects was an essential quality of folk culture.
52. Regional styles
Aesthetic preferences of villagers were marked by characteristics which distinguished regions from each other. Some of them developed their own style in certain areas of creativity, e.g. in ceramics, interior décor, furniture. Others encompassed styles across the regions. The most distinctive are the regions of Kashubia and Kuyavia. The exhibits on the left wall illustrate the Kashubian style, which was characterised by plant motives present in the art of embroidery from the end of the 18th century, as on the displayed woman ‘s cap from the first half of the 19th century. It was also used in ceramics, furniture and paintings. The art of Kashubia is characterised by easily recognisable borrowings from various artistic styles, church monastery and foreign influences of German, Dutch and Italian origin. On the wall in front of us, there are exhibits showing the Kuyavian style. This region was characterised by a specific interior decorating style, flamboyantly ornamented furniture, chests or paper and straw decorations. The photographs on the wall and the film present the custom of scattering sand on clay floors and yards forming different shapes and patterns. In this way, the houses were decorated for church celebrations.
53. Objects which represent the process of a village absorbing urban aesthetic trends typical for the 1920s can be seen here. It was a time when people started decorating their houses with purely decorative objects. Have a look at the selection of tapestries with genre scenes and trinkets.
Muzeum Etnograficzne w Social Mediach