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The Colorful Zalipie

Anna Bartosz, Adam Bartosz

To the North – West of Tarnów, where the Dunajec and the Vistula rivers meet, you can find one of the most interesting ethnographic mikroregion in Poland. The center of this region is the village of Zalipie. The village and the region became famous for their housepainted in flowers. The tradition of decorating the household walls as well as the outer walls of the houses emerged at the end of the previous century; when furnaces without chimneys began disappearing, their smoke went straight through chimneys not blackening white washed walls. In the times when the insides of the dwellings were still dark from the soot that had settled on the walls, girls tried brightening them by decorating the walls with bright spots made of lime. Later these round spots were shaped from simple flowers, and in time were given more sought-out shapes.
    Using flower compositions, the women decorated especially the wide stoves made-up of many surfaces. It made the artists use flower themes to decorate them. They set the garlands of flowers under paintings, around windows and doors. In time they started decorating the outside walls of houses. In the begining, however, the ornaments on these walls were predominantly geometric figures: dots, curves, circles, zig-zags, waved lines etc.
    Basically, for painting the women simples, the easily obtainable materials, were: brown clay, soot, and lime. As a binder they used milk, sugar, egg whites ora water from dumplings. The paint prepared in such a way, was than applied using a brush made of hay or a small brush made of horse hair or a cow's tail. Some artists use this technigue till the present day.
    In the year 1905 a clerk from Kraków, Władysław Hickel, became intrigued by the decoration of houses, and was the first to publish an article concering the matter in an ethnographic periodical “Lud”. In the years before the second World War, the interest of ethnographers in the phenomenon caused, that the artists from Zalipie were invited to decorate a few houses in Kraków and they also decorated one museum hall in Kraków's Ethnographic Museum.
    After the War this form of art declined and it was the effort of the goverment that caused the rebirth of the art. Contests in house-paintings started in 1948 and took place every few years and from the year 1965 they have been continued annually. Besides Zalipie, the painted houses can be found in a number of surrounding villages, but due to the intensicve popularization of this one village by talented painter Felicja Curyło (1904-1974), it was the most known. Even today it is there you can find the largest number of the painted houses. In the other villages you can find but a few or even single such houses. In Zalipie alone there are more than twenty such buildings, and a second twenty can be found spread around in villages such as: Ćwików, Kłyż, Kuzie, Niwki, Podlipie, Samocice. However the paintings in these villages differ, sometimes quite considerably, from the ones in Zaipie in from, and are generally more archaic. Rivalary among the Zalipie artists led them to the highest level of developement in the art they inherited from the primary traditions.
    The talents of the village artists do not limit themselves to wallpaintings alone. They make beautiful decorative papers, embroidered and painted ornaments cover their furniture, table clothes, aprons, chine, glass etc. For the tourist who will visit the village, the difficulty in finding the painted houses might be quite surprising.
    It is a village spread out in, a fork of routes end in about two hundred farms today, there are about twenty painted buildings. Sometimes it might be hared to locate them and our guide may prove helpful.
    It is also worth visiting the Zalipie church. It is an architectonicly commonplace structure, but its outside was decorated by the local women. In the aacristy a friendly priest may show you a collection of liturgical attire embroided by Zalipian women. And maybe you might get invited to see the painted presbytery.
    The local school also has a few rooms decorated in flowers and the area's culture centre, called the House of Artists is richly ornamented too.
    The culture life of the village is focused here.
    Some farms are especially richly decorated. Not only are the rooms painted, but the outer walls of the houses, barns, henhouses, walls, basement, and even kennels as well. Some of the outer walls of houses are restored annually. A really good opportunity to see the local arts is the annual contest organized by the Tarnovian Ethnographic Museum. It has been taking place for years in the Spring right after Corpus Christi which means it may occur at various dates.

(translated by Anna Maria Orla-Bukowska)

Wszelkie prawa zastrzeżone dla Muzeum Okręgowego w Tarnowie

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