Museum of Folk Culture in Sidzina

Museum of Folk Culture in Sidzina

The High Beskid, the Low Beskid, eastern part of the Beskid Żywiecki...the Ciśniawka Stream, the Głązy Stream, the Sidzina Stream, forests, and plenty of greenery, all makes up the natural scenery of Sidzina. It is not far from here to other open-air museums such as Józef Żak open-air museum in Zawoja-Markowa, or the Orawa Ethnographic Park in Zubrzyca Górna which the museum in Sidzina was a branch of for many years. Initially the museum operated only as a regional room created by Adam Leśniak. He together with children from Dom Wczasów Dziecięcych (a camp centre for school-age children) collected antiques. With the passing of time, the room became a department of the Orawa Ethnographic Park.

In only a few years, it has become an independent institution – the Museum of Folk Culture in Sidzina run by the commune of Bystra-Sidzina. But it is not important where it belongs to or who runs it. The history of Sidzina itself is very interesting and it stands out from other neighbouring villages. Different history of the village is also significant for the development of local culture. From the very beginning, the inhabitants of Sidzina used to be free people. The village was founded by the king to protect the kingdom against the Vlachs. Peasants, who settled there, were exempted from fees and taxes for 15 years. In the first year 40 families appeared. After 15 years of settlement, the land begins to belong to the Lanckorona district. Peasants had to pay rent of 120 pieces of shingles and flax (hence the cultivation of the Sidzina flax). For this whole time there was no manor house, so they did not have to work off the serfdom. They had their own lands and forests, and they only worked to grow wealthy and consequently to raise their prestige.

Sołtys, as a land agent had a right to judge. One of the punishments was the so-called kuna. A misdeed was announced in public. This kind of punishment was the worst because the pride of a condemned person suffered more than his body.

Pride and honour for inhabitants of Sidzina were the most important values. During the peasant revolution, in the middle of 19th century, a lord from Toporzysko village hid himself in Sidzina and honourable inhabitants did not turn him in. It would have been impolite to do so. To this day honour is one of their most important attributes.

In material culture in which signs are gathered in the open-air ethnographical museum in Sidzina these differences are not so visible. Well-practised eye of a regular visitor will notice right away that interiors are more ornamental and better equipped. Houses without chimneys (chaty kurne in Polish) dominated in Sidzina. It was not a sign of simple construction, but the result of devious repealing of the Austrian law according to which each chimney was subjected to special tax, the so-called podymne. Regular visitors also know that most cottages in the Małopolska Province are actually built in the same way; an open hearth from which smoke was coming up to the ceiling and then through a special opening called woźnica up to a loft, and finally, released by smoke holes (dymniki in Polish) outside a building.

Even if you have already seen many open-air museums in the vicinity, it is still worth visiting the one in Sidzina. Sidzina is very specific and differs from the Podhale region and nearby situated Orawa alike. A very nice couple Mr and Mrs Czarni, who are looking after the museum, will not only tell you about the differences, but also regale you with very interesting anecdotes from the life of the village. They will tell you about the Sidzina farmland and units of land measurement, nicknames, chapels and customs still used by the inhabitants of Sidzina. They will tell stories about relocation of a mill or a pond’s building. Everything is told in a specific local dialect because the language of the Sidzina inhabitants is also very unique.

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