Rosette / 6-pointed Star in Polish folklore

0-header-rozeta

6-petal rosette is an ancient symbol, a part of the overlapping circles grid family that was appearing in various cultures and dates back at least as far back as the Late Bronze Age. It was discovered in numerous lands all over Europe and beyond, including stonework of the old Celts, Visigoths, ancient Egypt, Rome, China, and many others. It was used in early Christian art as well, for example in the stonework of early Romanesque and Gothic churches, as well as in Byzantine structures.

Over the centuries it survived among many different regions all over the continent, including the rural art of the Slavic people. It was widespread notably in the areas around the Carpathian Mountain Range (that include mountainous regions of southern Poland, and stretches across countries like Romania, Slovakia, southeastern Ukraine, northern Serbia, Hungary) where it was used primarily as a protective symbol for the building and appliances.

In the Polish ethnography it’s identified the most with the region of Podhale, which is located under the Tatra Mountains (part of the Carpathians). In that culturally-rich region it was well-preserved and cherished in local crafts including woodworking, embroidery and painting. Because of the popularity of Podhale’s folklore many Polish people themselves associate the rosette symbol with that region only – what is understandable since Podhale’s folklore is widely visible and promoted, but at the same time that notion is wrong because the symbol was appearing in rural crafts all over other regions of Poland as well. Some regions were less fortunate and in fact much of Polish rural art had been lost during the wars that ravaged the lands in the past.

The symbol is simple: based on a grid of 7 overlapping circles that create a 6-pointed ‘star’, with 6 inner ‘petals’, sometimes with an outer ring encircling the whole symbol, sometimes the petals alone. It was appearing in widely-understood applied arts: on ceiling beams, doors and door headers, window frames, furniture, household appliances, embroidery, and many other construction elements and household items or decorations in the old countryside.

In the Polish folklore it was treated as a protective magickal symbol, identified as a remnant of the pre-Christian solar worship, sometimes called a ‘star’ (gwiazda) or a ‘little Sun’ (słonko or słoneczko). What’s extremely interesting, it was often associated also with the worship of the Mother Mary and therefore called a rosette (rozeta or różyca), linking it to the feminine mystic/sacred rose symbolism found in Christianity. The symbol was decorating spinning wheels, distaffs, and various devices used in processing flax, hemp or linen. Therefore, it could be also analyzed in the context of the old worship of the Sacred Mother / Mother Earth or old goddesses, for example Mokosh who was the patron goddess of spinning and weaving. All of that makes the interpretation of the symbol’s meaning extremely complex.

One of rosette’s notable magickal property, common across all the Slavic countries where the symbol appeared, was said to be warding off the lightnings and storms, keeping the house safe – reason why was it so often carved on wooden elements of construction. In relation to that common trait this symbol is nowadays usually interpreted and associated with Perun, the thunder god.

I’m trying to collect as much examples of the rosette in Polish crafts as possible, and below you can see some of my interesting findings so far. I showed some of them before in my references gallery under the tag ‘rozeta‘. I tried to sort out the pictures below by general regions, and to focus mostly on historical examples of the usage. I intended the following material to be a good collection of references showing where was it appearing in the past (in context of both geography, and types of items it was adorning). The collection isn’t complete, and I hope to keep expanding it and adding more references in the future – especially because, as briefly mentioned above, some regions were less fortunate and to look for surviving examples is extremely hard. Enjoy!

 

ROSETTE IN POLISH RURAL ART AND CRAFTS

 

 

REGION OF LUBLIN / LUBELSZCZYZNA

 

Region roughly corresponding with the present-day Lublin Voivodeship (administrative district) in eastern Poland.

 

https://www.warsztatykultury.pl/patterns-of-europe-wzory-europy-2017-meblujemy-miasto/
Rosette from a ceiling beam, village of Korytków Duży, Biłgoraj County. Photography by J. Urbanowicz, 1968 / warsztatykultury.pl
Lublin-beam1
Decoration on a ceiling beam inside tenement house at Dominikańska 5 Street in Lublin. Souce: lublin.eu
https://www.warsztatykultury.pl/patterns-of-europe-wzory-europy-2017-meblujemy-miasto/
Rosettes on the sides of a window, village of Cyców, Łęczna County. Photography by J. Urbanowicz, 1975 / warsztatykultury.pl
https://www.warsztatykultury.pl/patterns-of-europe-wzory-europy-2017-meblujemy-miasto/
Rosette on a frame decorating a window from the outside. Village of Wojcieszków, Łuków County. Photography by J. Urbanowicz, 1960 / warsztatykultury.pl
http://biblioteka.teatrnn.pl/dlibra/Content/29030/TL_2000_2.pdf
Symbols on ceiling beams from the Biłgoraj County, retrieved from “Twórczość Ludowa” R. XV Nr 2 (45) 2000. Available online at biblioteka.teatrnn.pl
Taca-1920r.-pow.Puąawy1-e1441115990891
Decorative wooden tray from 1920, district Puławy, Lubelskie voivodeship, eastern Poland. Source: patternsofeurope.pl
Zdobienie-prz©ėlicy-1951r.-Wola-Obszašska-pow.Biągoraj-21-e1441116017642
Decoration on a distaff from 1951, Wola Obszańska, district Biłgoraj, Lubelskie voivodeship, eastern Poland. Source: patternsofeurope.pl
belt-from-Bilgoraj
Belt from the turn of 19th/20th centuries, Biłgoraj, Lubelskie voivodeship, eastern Poland. Source: patternsofeurope.pl
belt-from-Bilgoraj2
Another photograph of the belt from Biłgoraj, source: muzeumlubelskie.pl
suka-bilgorajska1
Old-Polish instrument called suka. This particular example, adorned with a rosette was found and drawn by artist Wojciech Gerson in 1895, comes from Biłgoraj – therefore it’s often called ‘suka biłgorajska‘ in Polish. Source: sukabilgorajska.pl
suka-bilgorajska-4strun-1
Reconstruction of suka biłgorajska made by Szkoła Suki Biłgorajskiej w Janowie Lubelskim (School of Suka Biłgorajska in Janów Lubelski). Source: sukabilgorajska.pl
suka-bilgorajska2
Nowadays suka biłgorajska is one of cherished revived old-Polish instruments. Above: musicians at a folklore festival in Janów Lubelski, 2014. Photography © festiwal.sukabilgorajska.pl

 

 

REGION OF MAZOVIA / MAZOWSZE

 

Large cultural and historical region of Mazovia in northeastern central Poland, surrounding the capital of Warsaw.

 

Rosette on a hurdy-gurdy (Polish: lira korbowa) from Kadzidło, region of Kurpie in north-eastern Poland, made by a local musician Andrzej Staśkiewicz. Source: kadzidlo.pl
sierpc-rozeta
Rosette on window shutters, cottage in the open-air museum in Sierpc, central Poland. Source: Muzeum Wsi Mazowieckiej w Sierpcu

 

 

REGION OF PODLASIE

 

Podlasie, sometimes spelled Podlachia in English, is a region in north-eastern Poland, along the Polish-Belarusian border.

 

Józef Grabowski "Sztuka ludowa. Formy i regiony w Polsce", Wyd. Arkady, Warszawa 1967.
Rosette decorating a roof in the village of Dąbrowa. Source: Józef Grabowski “Sztuka ludowa. Formy i regiony w Polsce”, Wyd. Arkady, Warszawa 1967.
https://www.facebook.com/Plutycze/
Rosettes decorting the window frame, village of Plutycze. Source: fb.com/Plutycze
poland-podlasie
Remnants of a wooden porch adorned with rosettes, region of Podlasie in north-eastern Poland. Photography © Podlaskie Obrazy
Woodwork from region of Podlasie, Poland, via Podlaskie Obrazy
Rosette symbols adorning a cottage, region of Podlasie in north-eastern Poland. Photography © Podlaskie Obrazy

 

 

WARMIA AND MASURIA / MAZURY

 

Areas in north-eastern Poland, associated with the historical lands of Warmia and Masuria.

 

Józef Grabowski "Sztuka ludowa. Formy i regiony w Polsce", Wyd. Arkady, Warszawa 1967.
Decoration of a spinning wheel, region of Masuria. Source: Józef Grabowski “Sztuka ludowa. Formy i regiony w Polsce”, Wyd. Arkady, Warszawa 1967.
Kwidzyn2
Decorations on chairs in the museum in Kwidzyn. Photography © sosreb.wordpress.com

 

 

GREATER POLAND / WIELKOPOLSKA

 

Greater Poland is a cultural and historical region in west-central Poland, with major cities like Poznań, Gniezno and Kalisz.

 

Olobok-lace-embroidery
Similr ‘stars’ sometimes appear also in embroidery. Above: examples of lace embroidery from a woman’s cap, Ołobok, Ostrów Wielkopolski County. Source: Józef Grabowski “Sztuka ludowa. Formy i regiony w Polsce”, Wyd. Arkady, Warszawa 1967.
butter-forms-from-Strzyzewo
Wooden butter-shaping form from Strzyżewo, Nowy Tomyśl County, region of Greater Poland. Photography © Agata Stanisz / Cyfrowe Archiwum im. Józefa Burszty
003457n
Remnants of a wooden beam suppoting roof of a porch, adorned with a rosette, 1957. Village of Sokołowo Budzyńskie in the region of Greater Poland. Photography © Józef Burszta / Cyfrowe Archiwum im. Józefa Burszty
Miedzychod-belka_1
Remnants of a decorated ceiling beam discovered during renovations of a building in Międzychód. Source: oprawaobrazow-miedzychod.pl
Gniezno-tile3
15th-century tile from Gniezno, with fishes forming a rosette. In the source called a ‘wheel of fortune’. Source: muzeawielkopolski.pl
http://muzeawielkopolski.pl/eksponat/kafel-z-herbem-nowina-1
15th-century tile with Nowina coat of arms adorned with ‘stars’, Gniezno. Source: muzeawielkopolski.pl
http://muzeawielkopolski.pl/eksponat/kafel-z-rozeta-9
15th-century tile decorating a top of a stove, Gniezno. Source: muzeawielkopolski.pl

 

 

REGION OF SIERADZ / ZIEMIA SIERADZKA

 

A separate ethnographical region in central Poland, around the cities of Sieradz and Piotrków Trybunalski, corresponding with the historical Sieradz Land.

 

Piotrkow-Trybunalski1
Rosette on a beam dated before 1626, discovered in a cloister (before turning into cloister, the building is assumed to have been a regular townhouse). Photography by Dariusz Śmigielski / piotrkowtrybunalski.naszemiasto.pl

 

 

REGION OF HOLY CROSS / ŚWIĘTOKRZYSKIE

 

Cultural region roughly corresponding with the Holy Cross Voivodeship, located in south-central Poland around the city of Kielce.

 

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v80), quality = 95
Rosettes on a ceiling beam from village of Ciekoty, 1753. Source: mnki.pl
http://pik.kielce.pl/atrakcje-turystyczne/budowle-uzytecznosci-publicznej/17659-park-etnograficzny-w-tokarni-chalupa-z-rokitna.html
Rosette on a ceiling beam (top left corner of the photo) inside a cottage from Rokitno village, open-air museum of Kielce Countryside in Tokarnia. Photography by A.Markiton / pik.kielce.pl
kielce-cottage-from-Slezany
Another example of a rosette on a ceiling beam. Cottage from Ślężany village, nowadays in the open-air museum of Kielce Countryside in Tokarnia. Photography by A.Markiton / pik.kielce.pl
IMG_5963
Rosettes decorating the chairs and wardrobe, open-air museum of Kielce countryside in Tokarnia, south-central Poland. Photography © ruszajwdroge.pl
kielce-chairs
Another look at the chair from the photograph above. Source: “Meble, które mają duszę. Meblarstwo ludowe na Kielecczyżnie”, Muzeum Wsi Kieleckiej 2007

 

 

REGION OF SUBCARPATHIA / PODKARPACKIE

 

Area corresponding with the Podkarpackie Voivodeship in south-eastern Poland. Here we start entering the Carpathian region: the southern parts of that voivodeship (administrative district) belong to the geographical Carpathian Mountain Range.

Kakolowka-cymbals1
Cimbalom from Kąkolówka, Błażowa County, c. 1914. Author/creator: Piotr Mucha. From the collections of Muzeum Etnograficzne im. Franciszka Kotuli w Rzeszowie. Source: ludowe.instrumenty.edu.pl
Kakolowka-cymbals2
Closeup of rosette decorating the cimbalom from Kąkolówka above. Source: ludowe.instrumenty.edu.pl
Czerce-cymbals2
Cimbalom from Czerce, Sieniawa County, 1981. Author/creator: Bronisław Pikuła. From the collections of Muzeum Etnograficzne im. Franciszka Kotuli w Rzeszowie. Source: ludowe.instrumenty.edu.pl
Grodzisko-cymbals1
Cimbalom from Grodzisko, Strzyżów County, postwar (excact date unknown). From the collections of Muzeum Etnograficzne im. Franciszka Kotuli w Rzeszowie. Source: ludowe.instrumenty.edu.pl
Grodzisko-cymbals2
Cimbalom from Grodzisko, Strzyżów County, postwar (excact date unknown). From the collections of Muzeum Etnograficzne im. Franciszka Kotuli w Rzeszowie. Source: ludowe.instrumenty.edu.pl
Grodzisko-cymbals3
Cimbalom from Grodzisko, Strzyżów County, 20th century. From the collections of Muzeum Etnograficzne im. Franciszka Kotuli w Rzeszowie. Source: ludowe.instrumenty.edu.pl

 

 

LESSER POLAND / MAŁOPOLSKA

 

Areas roughly corresponding with the Lesser Poland Voivodeship in southern Poland. The southernmost parts of that area belong to the Carpathian Mountain Range, and are inhabitated by various different cultural groups of Highlanders (Górale).

(side note: that administrative district includes also the region of Podhale, however I’ve created a separate section below only for that region)

 

Orawa-beam
Rosette on a ceiling beam, Orawa Highlanders. Source: bgpn.pl
CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 80
Rosette on a ceiling beam, old cottage in the open-air ethnography museum of Orawa Highlanders in Sidzina. Photography by A.Czyżewska / skanseny.net
http://www.bgpn.pl/region/babiogorcy/budownictwo
Rosette on a ceiling beam, Babia Góra Highlanders. Source: bgpn.pl
NowaHuta1
Rosette in an old house in Mistrzejowice, nowadays in a district of Kraków. Source: nhmz.pl
chest-from-Sowliny_Nowy-Sacz-County
Carpathian-style wooden chest, beginning of 20th century. Sowliny, Limanowa County. Source: etnomuzeum.eu
Przyborow-chest
Carpathian-style wooden chest, end of 19th century. Przyborów, Żywiec district. Source: etnomuzeum.eu
http://etnomuzeum.eu/wzornik-inspiracji/skrzynia-3
Painted chest from Wiśniowa, Myślenice County, end of 19th century. Source: etnomuzeum.eu
*
Painted bench from vicinity of Kraków. Source: Irena Czarnecka “Polnische Volkskunst”, 1957
http://etnomuzeum.eu/wzornik-inspiracji/zydel-1
Chair from Poznachowice, Myślenice county, c. 1900. Source: etnomuzeum.eu
chair-from-poznachowice2
Chair from Poznachowice, Myślenice county, c. 1900. Source: etnomuzeum.eu
http://etnomuzeum.eu/wzornik-inspiracji/zydel-6
Chair from Jurków, Limanowa County, Zagórzanie cultural group, 1910. The region is located in southern Poland close to Podhale. Source: etnomuzeum.eu
http://etnomuzeum.eu/wzornik-inspiracji/zydel
Chair of Babia Góra Highlanders, village of Zawoja, 1905. Source: etnomuzeum.eu
http://etnomuzeum.eu/wzornik-inspiracji/bryczka-3
Toy, Beskid Żywiecki Higlanders, village of Lachowice, Beskid Żywiecki County, 1972. Source: etnomuzeum.eu
http://etnomuzeum.eu/permanent-exhibition/human-objects
Other examples of toys from vicinities of Kraków. Source: etnomuzeum.eu
Brzyna_Nowy-Sacz-County
Spinning wheel from Brzyna, Łącko County. Source: Józef Grabowski “Sztuka ludowa. Formy i regiony w Polsce”, Wyd. Arkady, Warszawa 1967.
http://www.kultura.malopolska.pl/record/-/record/aggregated837581/5/96/48/29/852/importDate/
Decorative spoon holder from region of Orawa, 1960s. From the Collection of Orawa Ethnography Museum, source: kultura.malopolska.pl
http://www.kultura.malopolska.pl/record/-/record/aggregated838169/0/624/48/42/852/importDate/desc
Decorative spoon holder from region of Orawa, from the turn of 19th/20th centuries. In the Collection of Orawa Ethnography Museum, source: kultura.malopolska.pl
Olszanka-Wolica_Nowy-Sacz
Wayside shrine adorned with ‘stars’, Olszanka near Nowy Sącz. Source: Józef Grabowski “Sztuka ludowa. Formy i regiony w Polsce”, Wyd. Arkady, Warszawa 1967.

 

 

REGION OF PODHALE

 

Finally, as the last section, I present you with materials from the region of Podhale where the symbol of rosette survived in abundance. It appears in majority of woodcrafting decorations, becoming a popular symbol that nowadays is used in many travel advertisements of the region. Still nowadays it’s cherished by local craftsmen and appears in many newly built wooden houses as a bow towards tradition of putting that protective symbol on ceiling beams, as well as in interior decorations that fuse the modern style with the local traditional crafts. I’ll start here with historical tables showing the usage of the symbol around the turn of 19th/20th centuries, and then I’ll include some photographs and historical examples.

 

Above: Władysław Matlakowski (1850-1895), “Budownictwo ludowe na Podhalu”, 1892. Available online at Lower Silesian Digital Library Consortium

Pages above from: Władysław Matlakowski (1850-1895) “Zdobienie i sprzęt ludu polskiego na Podhalu: zarys życia ludowego”, released in 1901. Available online at polona.pl

Above: selection of illustrations showing rosettes on various elements such as construction beams, spoon holders, hangers, spinning wheel distaffs, cheese molds, chairs, and a pair of winter sleigh; source: Władysław Matlakowski (1850-1895) “Zdobienie i sprzęt ludu polskiego na Podhalu: zarys życia ludowego”, released in 1901. Available online at polona.pl

 

http://archiwalna.muzeumtatrzanskie.pl/?strona,menu,pol,glowna,1387,0,1531,galeria_sztuki_xx_wieku_w_willi_oksza,ant.html
Interior of Villa “Oksza” in Zakopane, dated to 1890s. Photography © Jarek Możdżyński, via archiwalna.muzeumtatrzanskie.pl
http://archiwalna.muzeumtatrzanskie.pl/?strona,doc,pol,glowna,1535,0,842,1,1376,ant.html
Door inside Villa “Oksza” in Zakopane, dated to 1890s. Photography © Jarek Możdżyński, via archiwalna.muzeumtatrzanskie.pl
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Koliba003.JPG
Interior of Villa “Koliba” in Zakopane, with notable rosette above the door. Source: commons.wikimedia.org
Podhale-Zakopane_Villa-Koliba-beam
Construction beam inside Villa “Koliba” in Zakopane. Photography © Marzena Kądziela / echodnia.eu
Podhale-Zakopane_Villa-Oksza_belka2
Construction beam inside Villa “Oksza” in Zakopane, dated to 1890s. This particular beam includes a commemoration of a wedding anniversary which the household celebrated in 1899. Photography © Jarek Możdżyński, via archiwalna.muzeumtatrzanskie.pl
http://archiwalna.muzeumtatrzanskie.pl/?strona,menu,pol,glowna,1387,0,1531,galeria_sztuki_xx_wieku_w_willi_oksza,ant.html
Construction beam inside Villa “Oksza” in Zakopane, dated to 1890s. Photography © Jarek Możdżyński, via archiwalna.muzeumtatrzanskie.pl
https://skanseny.net/zdjecie/5960?lang=pl
Rosette on a ceiling beam inside a cottage from Czarna Góra. Tatra Museum, source: skanseny.net
Podhale_Zab-cradle
Cradle from the village of Ząb, Poronin County, 1926. Source: etnomuzeum.eu
http://etnomuzeum.eu/zbiory/kolyska-na-biegunach
Cradle from village of Dzianisz, Nowy Targ County,  1956. Source: etnomuzeum.eu
CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 100
Closeups of the above cradle from Dzianisz, source: etnomuzeum.eu
Podhale_Nowe-Bystre-bench
Fragment of ‘szlabanek’, a bench with a sitting part that was folding into a bed. Village of Nowe Bystre, Nowy Targ County, 1924. Source: etnomuzeum.eu
Józef Grabowski "Sztuka ludowa. Formy i regiony w Polsce". Wyd. Arkady, Warszawa 1967.
Wooden chest from Podhale, c. late 19th century. Source: Józef Grabowski “Sztuka ludowa. Formy i regiony w Polsce”, Wyd. Arkady, Warszawa 1967.
Podhale-Czarny-Dunajec
Spoon holder from Czarny Dunajec. Source: Józef Grabowski “Sztuka ludowa. Formy i regiony w Polsce”, Wyd. Arkady, Warszawa 1967.
http://muzea.malopolska.pl/obiekty/-/a/26957/1115864
Spoon holder from Czerwienne, Nowy Targ district, mid-19th century. Author: Maciej Goncorz (Gonciok) Hodok. From the collection of Muzeum Tatrzańskie im. Dra Tytusa Chałubińskiego w Zakopanem, via muzea.malopolska.pl
http://www.szlakstyluzakopianskiego.pl/index.php/obiekty/10-1-chalupa-gasienicow-sobczakow-muzeum-stylu-zakopianskiego-inspiracje-im-marii-i-bronislawa-dembowskich-droga-do-rojow-6-ok-1830-ok-1870-1880-oraz-chalupy-przy-ulicy-koscieliskiej-nr-12-37-38-40-52-56-66-78
Interior of an old house of Gąsienica-Sobczak family, now a museum located in Zakopane. Photography © szlakstyluzakopianskiego.pl
Podhale-Zakopane_Villa-Oksza
Villa “Oksza” (previously “Korwinówka”) in Zakopane, 1896. Note the big rosette on above the porch. Photography from the archives of Muzeum Tatrzańskie w Zakopanem, via archiwalna.muzeumtatrzanskie.pl
Irena Czarnecka "Polnische Volkskunst", 1957
Doors adorned with a rosette. Source: Irena Czarnecka “Polnische Volkskunst”, 1957
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Zakopane_Koscieliska_18_willa_Koliba07_A-1125_M.jpg
Rosette on a steel railing, Villa “Koliba” in Zakopane. Source: commons.wikimedia.org
Podhale-Zakopane_Villa-Koliba-deco
Rosettes on a facade decoration in Villa “Koliba”, Zakopane. Source: commons.wikimedia.org
Podhale-Zakopane-deco2
Decoration on the outside of a wooden house, Zakopane. Motif of a ‘parzyca’ with the rosette in its heart. Photography © Maria Solańska, via zakopanedlaciebie.pl
http://ugbukowinatatrzanska.pl/?strona,doc,pol,glowna,1655,0,975,1,1655,ant.html
Example of wool trousers adorned with rosettes. Author: Bronisława Wojtanek, source: ugbukowinatatrzanska.pl
http://zakopanedlaciebie.pl/pl/polecamy/c1703.html
Elaborate ‘tree of life’ motif decorating outside of a wooden house, Zakopane. Photography © Maria Solańska, via zakopanedlaciebie.pl
Podhale-Zakopane-deco3
Decoration on the outside of a wooden house, Zakopane. Photography © Maria Solańska, via zakopanedlaciebie.pl

For further reading I recommend this article in English:

Podhale-Zakopane-deco2
Decoration on the outside of a wooden house, Zakopane. Motif of a ‘parzyca’ with the rosette in its heart. Photography © Maria Solańska, via zakopanedlaciebie.pl
http://ugbukowinatatrzanska.pl/?strona,doc,pol,glowna,1655,0,975,1,1655,ant.html
Example of wool trousers adorned with rosettes. Author: Bronisława Wojtanek, source: ugbukowinatatrzanska.pl

My sources [PL]:

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