Traditional Polish Folk Costumes in Photography

The State Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw

The State Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw collection of folk fashion in photo studios and in the field

These 19th century photographs of folk culture are usually stylized scenic portraits made in the studio by a professional photographer. Some characteristics "peoples" appeared here often - as unnamed characters in regional costumes and arranged poses.

The most valuable works of this kind are photographs dating back to 1860-1890, made by Ignacy Krieger in Kraków, and those made by Juliusz Dutkiewicz who worked in Kolomyia for example (now Western Ukraine).

Ignacy Krieger took pictures of villagers and city dwellers in typical costumes from Kraków and its areas, and highlanders from the Podhale Region as well. Many of those photographs are manually coloured.

A couple wearing traditional Kraków area wedding costumes.

The majority of Krieger`s collection (198 photographs) are located in photographic albums specially framed in the style of that epoch.

Wojciech Migacz`s collection numbers 372 glass negatives and 57 photographs from the turn of 19th century, it was obtained by the Museum's workers between 1976 and 1980.

The impulse for that discovery were two photographs taken by Migacz, sent by his distant relative for the contest "Family rites in folk culture: love and marriage", organized by the Museum. Those photographs turned out to be extremely documents of culture of Lachy Sądeckie Group as well as the testimony of work and life of their author.

Glass negative plates were signed by hand before the emulsion dried. Retouch is sometimes visible on certain negatives, done by Migacz himself before he produced the prints (eg. the self-portrait of Migacz).

Migacz often attached handwritten comments, dates and seals to the photographs he developed. The information he placed on the reverse of the prints constitute and additional source of information about the topic of the photo and the author`s work.

Ignacy Ciągły's wedding.

The Ziętka family from the village of Skrudzina.

A collection of Mieczysław Cholewa’s negatives from the 1920s-1930s, including 615 glass negatives and 31 celluloids. The negatives (and costumes, also a part of the collection) form a comprehensive whole and present the life of Polish Highlanders and Lachy Sądeckie people. Moreover, the collection’s creator was also the author of the photos.

Mieczysław Cholewa (1913- 1978) was a photographer and amateur ethnographer, as well activist and populariser of the Sądecczyzna region. In the interwar period studied regional qualities of the Polish areas of the Carpathians, making photographic documentations and collecting traditional folk costumes. A lot of his photos were used in ethnographic studies of folk culture, for example by such eminent ethnographers as Tadeusz Seweryn or Roman Reinfuss. He is also the author of a highly regarded monograph on traditional folk costumes titled “Stroje Ludowe Ziemi Sądeckiej,” published in Lublin in 1946. In the 1940s published a few dozen of his photos as postcards.

A couple wearing traditional costumes of the Łąccy highlanders.

Mieczysław Cholewa posing on a stump with an alpenstock, wearing stylized traditional costume of highlanders from the Podhale region.

A couple wearing traditional Lachy Sądeckie costume.

Credits: Story

The State Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw/ Państwowe Muzeum Etnograficzne w Warszawie

Curators/Kuratorzy: Patryk Pawlaczyk, Klara Sielicka-Baryłka from Polish & European Folklore Department

Coordination/Koordynacja projektu: Klara Sielicka-Baryłka

Support team: Elżbieta Czyżewska, Anastazja Stelmach, Przemysław Walczak, Anahita Rezaei

Special thanks to: Jadwiga Koszutska; Łukasz Zandecki; Marzena Borman; Joanna Bartuszek & Barbara Kowalczyk; Edward Koprowski; Mariusz Raniszewski; Agnieszka Grabowska; Aleksander Robotycki

Translation: Jan Sielicki & The SEM`s documentation

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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