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International project "CANEPAL" - the European heritage of sheep farming and pasture life - image found on the website of the National History Museum of Bulgaria - one of the International partners for the project
International project “CANEPAL” – the European heritage of sheep farming and pasture life – image found on the website of the National History Museum of Bulgaria – one of the International partners for the project
International project "CANEPAL" - the European heritage of sheep farming and pasture life - image found on the website of the National History Museum of Bulgaria - one of the International partners for the project
International project “CANEPAL” – the European heritage of sheep farming and pasture life – image found on the website of the National History Museum of Bulgaria – one of the International partners for the project

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'Polana Jamy (Tatra Mountains)' - photo found on Wiki Commons and attributable to Opioła Jerzy
‘Polana Jamy (Tatra Mountains)’ – photo found on Wiki Commons and attributable to Opioła Jerzy

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Západní Tatry, ovce – sheep in the forests in the Tatra Mountains, 2005 – photo found on Wiki Commons and attributable to Dezidor

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TEAM "MAŚNIAKI" - traditional textile production at The International Festival of Mountain Folklore, 1969 - photo found on Wiki Commons and attributable to Andrzej Kuros
TEAM “MAŚNIAKI” – traditional textile production at The International Festival of Mountain Folklore, 1969 – photo found on Wiki Commons and attributable to Andrzej Kuros
TEAM "MAŚNIAKI" - traditional textile production at The International Festival of Mountain Folklore, 1969 - photo found on Wiki Commons and attributable to Andrzej Kuros
TEAM “MAŚNIAKI” – traditional textile production at The International Festival of Mountain Folklore, 1969 – photo found on Wiki Commons and attributable to Andrzej Kuros

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Timothy Muśko, Spinner, oil on canvas - photo found on Wiki Commons, attributable to Pioloon
Timothy Muśko, Spinner, oil on canvas – photo found on Wiki Commons, attributable to Pioloon

As emphasized by the authors of elaboration “Handicraft and rural industry” during research conducted just after the 2nd World War, only women were mentioned in villages. Woollen yarn was used to produce both uniform fabrics in natural colours of sheep wool: white, black or grey from old sheep fleece. From combination of light and dark young sheep mousy colour was obtained. They also produced white-black-mousy stripes for shepherds’ bags
and checked fabrics for the so-called derki. They were used as covers and blankets for winter. All fabrics were made in a simple, i.e. linen weave. The woollen fabrics prepared by knopki were passed to fullers, where they were fulled, woollen fabrics milling. In comparison to other regions in Podhale there were a lot of processing plants. They were mills, sawmills, distilleries, dye-works, oil mills, shingle-works and fullers.

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Tatra Guides, photo taken approx. 1877., - From left Wojciech Roj, Jędrzej Wal younger, Jędrzej Wala, Simon Tatar and Maciej Sieczka - photo found on Wiki Commons and attributable to Awit Szubert
Tatra Guides, photo taken approx. 1877., – From left Wojciech Roj, Jędrzej Wal younger, Jędrzej Wala, Simon Tatar and Maciej Sieczka – photo found on Wiki Commons and attributable to Awit Szubert

The cloth was a basic material for production of many items of male clothing, which may prove the significance of the pastoral tradition in shaping it. It is confirmed by the oldest known historic documents and images of highlanders of the 18th c. They show that the old outfit of inhabitants of Podhale had a lot of common features with the outfit of other Carpathian groups, mainly those living in regions situated south from the Tatras.

essay on a trip to the museum Gunie or cuchy

In the old times the basic male outer coat was the so-called cucha previously called gunia. Its form was similar to a homespun coat, i.e. a kind of overcoat with long sleeves. The available resources show that even until the mid 19th century the knee-length gunias made of dark cloth were dominant among highlanders. Besides them, also shorter ones made of light cloth ones were worn.

'Cuha - Podhale men's overcoat, made in 1935. Collection of the Tatra Museum in Zakopane' - photo found on Wiki Commons and attributable to Marta Malina Moraczewska
‘Cuha – Podhale men’s overcoat, made in 1935. Collection of the Tatra Museum in Zakopane’ – photo found on Wiki Commons and attributable to Marta Malina Moraczewska

You can read about many other traditional garments worn and made in the Tatra mountains in the report linked at the top of this post, and you might also be interested in the book that Stanisława Trebunia-Staszel has written on the subject: Śladami podhalańskiej mody – which loosely translates as ‘In the Footsteps of Tatra fashion’.

Stanisława Trebunia-Staszel PhD, signing copies of her book, photo found here
Stanisława Trebunia-Staszel PhD, signing copies of her book, photo found here

Stanisława Trebunia-Staszel PhD works at the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology at the Jagiellonian University and her research interests include Polish folk culture and its connections to the Carpathian regions. She is especially interested in contemporary processes of the creation and renewal of local and regional communities and has published many articles on this topic for ethnographic and popular science journals.

Many thanks to Justyna Lorkowska, Anna Bednaříková and Jo Kelly for assistance with translating those beautiful old Polish couplets: the Internet can be a wonderful place.

2 thoughts on “Owce i wełny w Polsce – Sheep and wool in Poland

  1. That was very interesting and not the only place where they thought sheep grazing would ‘ruin’ the land!!
    Glad the sheep are back!!

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