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The Kurpie Region Farmstead in Kadzidło

The Kurpie Region Farmstead in Kadzidło

Gathered within The Kurpie Region Farmstead in Kadzidło near Ostrołęka are examples of traditional, 19th and 20th century timber architecture characteristic of the Kurpie Zielone Region. It contains three cottages, an arcade granary called świronik, a woodshed, a barn containing a carriage room along with a carpentry and a cooper’s workshop, an oil mill and a riding-school. The Farmstead is equipped with tools which were used in the Kurpie Region during the twenty year inter-war period of the 20th century.

In May 1991, The Kurpie Region Farmstead in Kadzidło was opened to the public as a branch of the Regional Museum in Ostrołęka. It is one of the smallest open-air museums in Poland. Gathered on the 1,5 hectare area are examples of traditional, 19th and 20th century timber architecture characteristic of the Kurpie Zielone Region. It contains three cottages, an arcade granary called świronik, a woodshed, a barn containing a carriage room along with a carpentry and a cooper’s workshop, an oil mill and a riding-school. The Farmstead is equipped with tools which were used in the Kurpie Region during the twenty year inter-war period of the 20th century.

The cultural heritage of the Kurpie Region is rich in many interesting elements which define the Region’s cultural identity. Traditional timber architecture is the first of the unique features of the Region’s material culture. A Kurpie hut was usually situated with its narrow side (gable) wall facing the street. This wall was boarded and divided into two sections: the lower with vertical boards and the upper with the boards set into patterns (crossed, rhombus, triangles, etc). Very often, the gable was overhanging, an effect created by setting the last beam onto the first rafter. This part was usually further accented by nailing an additional horizontal beam called a szczytówka. It was carved into various geometric shapes such as stairs and corrugations. The gables were flanked by two beams, so-called wiatrownice, which rose above their tops. The ends of wiatrownice were carved into horns, axes, often with a cross in the middle and flags, called śparogi. Along the roof’s ridge, wooden trestles called kopliny were placed, rising above the roof. Windows were decorated as well. The window-stills were carved with heart shaped openings and the skirting-boards, called kourny, were decorated with carvings (geometric designs, floral, zoological, but also mermaid motifs). Of special note is the cottage from the Golanka Village, built at the beginning of the 19th century, but its interior is furnished in accordance with the 20th century tradition. Found here is a bed covered with multi-color klims and buranki, that is, textiles made with local looms, a ślabnan, which is an extendible bench, and two chests, painted in floral motifs. Such chests contained ceremonial Kurpie dress. The walls (mainly over the bed) are decorated with painted or sewn embroideries. In a traditional, 19th century cottage, walls were whitewashed. During holidays, usually before Christmas, walls were decorated with paper cuttings. Similar decorations farmed the holy paintings while crucifixes were adorned with paper flowers.

Paper cuttings are the second characteristic element of the traditional culture of the Kurpie Region. Two types were the most common: gwiazda and leluja. The earliest paper cuttings are open-work drapes and tapes used to decorated the frames of holy paintings. While on the subject of the Kurpie Region’s spiritual culture, it is worth to mention several popular patrons of the Green Primeval Forest. In front of the cottages and around the villages there can be found statues of the Pensive Christ and of various saints, such as St. Jon Nepomucene, who protects fields, grasslands, crops and protects against river floods and overabundant rains; St. Roch who protects people and animals from disease. The Feast of St. Roch is celebrated on January 16 and is a day when the Kurpie people remember the miraculous salvation from disease, and eat a fast-day supper, during which, in accordance with tradition, “pepper water” is served.

The year’s religious observances were full of various traditions. In the last week of Advent, the entire family took part in decorating their home with tissue-paper flowers, paper cuttings, and decorative tapes glued onto the frames of paintings. New kierce, three-dimensional, geometric decorations made from beans and peas attached to string or straw, were hung under the ceiling along with pająki, decorations made from colorful tissue-paper with long strings which reach the sidewalls, resembling a spider. During Christmas and New Year celebrations, ceremonial nowe latko bread was baked. It was in the shape of an oval on which silhouettes of the landlord surrounded by poultry: geese, ducks and chickens, were placed. The symbolic circle, according to folk beliefs, was supposed to protect life and guarantee the farmstead’s prosperity. Baked from bread dough (mainly rye flour) were also the representations of forest animals: deer, rabbits, as well as household animals, such as cows, goats, horses, rams and dogs. These were called byśki. These figurines were hung from the ceiling on strings as a sign of welfare for the whole family. Palm Sunday is a day during which many parishes across the Kurpie Region hold contests for the tallest and most beautiful palm. The palms created in the Kurpie Region are often several meters in height. They are made from hazel rods around which branches of evergreen plants, e.g. boxwood and thuja are wound, and decorated with tissue-paper flowers. Aside from the contest palms, smaller-sized ones relating to the Kurpie tradition can be found. These are usually tied with willow, blackberry or raspberry branches. Traditionally, such palms were also used when ceremonially herding the cattle during the Feast of St. Roch. Each animal was stroked with the palm in order to protect it against disease.

A visit to The Kurpie Farmstead in Kadzidło is a good way to get to know the Kurpie culture, the characteristic architecture with its śparogi or the traditional dress. It is also an opportunity to explore the gastronomic traditions of the region, such as rejbak wolkowski, żur kurpsioski, lettuce with groats, fafernuchy, herb bread with honey, psiwo kozicowe or yeast cake called łagodniak (wykopieniek). The area is replete with masters of the Kurpie cuisine, thanks to whom the visual experience can be supplemented with one of flavor.

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