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Kurpie district

 
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Geographical position of Kurpie region

Kurpie
Narew river valley(phot. T.Sumiński)
 

Kurpie region lays in northeast Poland on big lowland called Mazowsze. Old Ostrołęka district possessed duly whole Kurpie region. Long time ago on this land was big wilderness called Green Forest. Name of the region comes from shoes made from linden wood. Those shoes called "kurpsie" and they were wore by peasants from this region.

History

Green Forest was placed on sand or mud terrain. Because of that first settlements are dated on 15th century. First peoples who settled deep in the forest were iron ore miners, beekeepers and pitch burners. Colonisation of the forest stopped in 19th century. Then farming starts his domination over forestry. But very poor soils cannot maintain big families. Many people go to USA to work and send money to their families. All settlements had to be self-sufficient because of their inaccessibility. That's why Kurpie region created separated culture that took over almost all life spheres.

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Green Forest folk Culture

Peasant hut appearance

Huts were only wooden and covered with straw. On the top there was a cross or a flag. Windows had always 6 panes. Shutters were painted on blue with a flower pattern. Doors were painted similar to shutters. Interior were poor, floor was wooden. Full look of cottage you can see in Kadzidło 10km from Ostrołęka.

Hut
Reconstruction of peasants hut - Kadzidło (phot. S.Balas, A.Wołosz)
Folk costume

Folk costume is a very specific part of Kurpie culture. Holiday women clothes had many parts:

  • Flaxen red and white shirt,
  • Woollen skirt,
  • Apron,
  • Big colourful scarf,
  • Woollen jerkin,
  • Corset,
  • Leather shoes
  • Much amber beads.
  • Men costume was also interesting and was composed from:

  • Flaxen jacket,
  • Waistcoat,
  • Woollen trousers(grey or white),
  • Flaxen shirt with red ribbon,
  • Hat decorated with peacock feather,
  • Pipe, leather bag and walking stick.
  • You can see those costumes in local museum and on important local festivals.

    Costume
    Folk costume of Kurpie region

    Kurpie district is famous from couple specific cultural products. Most famous was amber. Others are cut-outs, Easter Palms and sculptures.

    Cutouts

    Only women made cutouts. They're showing animals, dragons, geometric figures and flowers. Couple cutouts you can see in Gallery.

    Cutout Cutout Cutout Cutout

    Traditions of Kurpie district

    Easter

    On Easter talented women made beautiful Easter eggs, and Easter Lambs from bread and sugar. Beautiful tradition of Green Forest was making big Sunday Palms. A palm like that (it can sometimes reach up to 6-7 meters) can be made with a hazel's or a big young pine's wood which is next covered with forest's plants. It is decorated with a colourful paper and tissue - paper ribbons. Palms are so big because they had to protect owners and their house from ghosts. After Easter on Monday there is a tradition called Smigus-Dyngus. People watered each other all over the day.

    God's Body Celebration

    At the day before this celebration 4 altars were made around a country. On procession everybody had to wear folk costume. At this day plains were blessed. This tradition is popular also today.

    Harvest

    6th of August yields were blessed. Peasants made bunch of grain, flowers which were blessed in church.

    Winter and New Year

    First important day in winter was 6th of December. At this day peasants were fast in intention of protection cattle. This tradition died out when last wolves in this region were killed. At Christmas Eve families shared each other wafer. Women put hay under the tablecloth. Wafer was also gave to cattle. Christmas is also connected with carols. Young boys made Carol Star and walk with it around the country singing and dancing for sweets were given to them. On New Year there was a tradition of baking special cakes called "bulls" and "years". Bulls had form of cows, horses and other animals. Years had form of circles with birds on it. All these cakes were hang on the ceiling.

    Carnival

     
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