Traditional design of the Lublin region – popular motifs

Traditional design of the Lublin region – popular motifs


Traditional art of the rural community, with its many motifs, patterns and ornaments, had a different function than the art of the educated social classes. It predominantly served as a uniting and integrating factor. It forged identity, emphasized distinctive features, informed, offered a link to the past and memory. Crafted items were not only aesthetic, but functional.
Folk art was inextricably linked with the traditional character of culture – it emerged from the combination of “the head and the hand,” of imagination and creation. Skills and patterns were passed down from one generation to the next. However, items created in different households were not identical. The hand-made items were often singular and unique. Technical solutions and details of fittings, shapes, decorations and colours were also different and depended on the used materials. Some objects crafted by folk inventors had truly surprising forms. However, they had their individual appeal – the creativity and artistry of the rural community, also in the Lubelszczyzna region, constituted a proof of their artistic talent and love for ornaments.
The most popular among the many geometric, floral and animal motifs used in traditional design from the Lublin region were: the cross, triskelion, swastika, rooster, sun, rosette (and a rose-like flower), star, heart and tree. Their popularity might have been linked with the symbolism of luck and fortune. However, it was often an unconscious decision on the part of the craftsmen. The motifs were used and repeated within the closest family or borrowed from the neighbours.
Colour also possessed its own significance. Red was a special hue – it was a colour of blood and life, of fire and the sun, of purification and of life forces that boosted the fertility of the land, of farm animals and of people. Red items had an apotropaic function and warded off demons and deflected misfortune (e.g. red ribbons, red beads used on clothes). The green of flowers and trees, especially of the coniferous species, denoted rebirth and immortality, wealth and fertility. It could also bring plentiful harvest. Yellow was associated with the energy of the golden sun and with wealth (fairy tales of kingdoms with golden mountains, golden castles, of trees with golden fruit). Brown was linked with earth and nature. Blue was associated with the sky, infinity and eternity; Mary, the mother of Jesus, was often portrayed wearing blue clothes. White stood for brightness and life, purity and virginity. Black indicated the sphere of the spirit world and black animals were believed to be incarnations of demons, they assisted witches or guided souls to the afterlife. Black was the herald of doom, danger and evil.


A cross consists of two lines that cross at an acute angle. It is the oldest symbolic depiction of the world (imago mundi). Items marked with the symbol were found in almost every corner of the world. It usually denoted a nature cult (fire, the sun). It also represented the axis of the earth, the four directions, the juxtaposition of the opposites: life-immortality, spirit-matter, zenith-nadir, east-west, up-down, right-left. It was used as a talisman in sympathetic magic to assure good harvest or to repel demons and other supernatural forces (as it was similar in form to a sword).
The cross upon which Jesus was crucified was, according to legend, made of four different types of wood: cedar, cypress, olive and palm wood, which represented the four corners of the world. In the Middle Ages, it was sometimes portrayed as a reversed Tree of Life. It epitomized the joining of heaven and earth, thus, it was pictured as the letter Y and a tree in allegories. It had the power to resurrect the dead and to cure all diseases.
Grave crosses contained an element of a magic seal according to some beliefs. They were sacred symbols, but also constituted a barrier that kept the dead from returning. Crosses and shrines were often erected on crossroads and on the borders of villages, in mediatory places that were visited by demons.
Christianity made the cross the most popular decoration motif in arts – first it was used in sacred, then in secular art. With time, people created more than 400 types of crosses.
The cross used to decorate Easter eggs in the Lublin region was similar to a Maltese cross or was combined with a swastika, often in floral patterns. It was rarely portrayed as the Christian cross – if it was, it took the form of a wayside cross. The cross motif was widely used in paper cut ornaments, on pottery, in embroidery, blacksmithing and wood-carving.


A triskelion or triskele resembles the reversed letter Y. It is a symbol made of three identical elements: arms, spirals, meanders, etc. that form a cyclical geometrical pattern. It represented the eternal cycle of life, the triadic aspect of femininity (the maiden, the mother and the crone), the three phases of life (youth, adulthood, old age) and the three forms of the material world (the earth, the sea and the sky). It was used as early as in ancient art. Many astrologists used it as the symbol of the Sun. It was one of the main symbols of the ancient Slavic religion. It was used to decorate stone circles, megaliths and other sacred places of worship, as well as sacrificial pots.
The triskelion was retained in Polish folk decorations as a reminiscence of ancient magical sigils and spells. In the Lublin region, the motif was used to decorate Eater eggs, but also in embroidery from the Biłgoraj area and on pottery created in Łążek. Some believed the triskelion to be a primitive image of a rooster.


The swastika resembles crossed lightnings and combined the symbolic of the cross and the wheel (four axes rotating in one direction). The motif was used in almost every primeval and ancient culture. The word svastika comes from Sanskrit and describes any object that brings luck. It has a right-facing and left-facing version. The right-facing, clockwise swastika mirrors the movement of the sun (as seem on the northern hemisphere) and was often associated with solar cultures (as a symbol of the sun and fire – a flaming circle) and functioned as a symbol of luck. It was associated with goddesses and fertility. The left-facing swastika (sauvastika) was a symbol of the night, darkness, ill fate and magic.
The swastika as a sun symbol was used on every continent in the world. It always signified Gods’ favour, the drive to success, victory in battle and good harvest. In Europe, during the Middle Ages, it was engraved on amulets to protect against black magic, demons, the devil and witches. Swastika was also used in the Polish territories. Among the Slavic people, it was the symbol of Swarog, the god of the sun, and was called swarga, swarzyca or swarożyca. It was traditionally carved on household items and weapons.
The swastika was used to decorate Easter eggs in the Lublin region as a symbol of the cross, and was often drawn near or on it. It was a sign of the lightning – a spring phenomenon that brings the first warm rainfall and makes the plants bloom. Placed on an Easter egg, a swastika was a fervent request for blessing and good fortune for the farm, the animals and the people.


The rooster, which symbolizes a new day and the coming of light, has been associated with vigilance and victory over darkness since ancient times. Thanks to its bright-red comb, shiny feathers and morning crowing, it was linked to fire and sun and the coming spring and also symbolized vital forces, fertility and plentiful harvest.
In the Bible, a rooster was mentioned when St. Paul denied knowing Jesus, and for that reason it is connected with the Passion of Christ – in art it was portrayed as one of its instruments. A rooster heralded the light of day by crowing in the morning, thus it became associated with resurrection and the second coming of Christ before judgment day. That is why (since the 9th century) a rooster has often been placed on church tower finials. There was also a belief that a figure of a rooster placed on a roof protects a building against hale, lightning and demons.
According to folklore, a rooster was the first bird to announce the birth of Christ and it could crow for the entire Christmas night. It was also believed that a rooster’s crow disperses darkness and banishes evil spirits and the bird was supposed to warn against evil and danger. It was regarded as an apotropeion and its image was often placed on amulets. A roosters’ feathers and claws were also believed to grant magical protection.
As a motif in folk art of the Lubelszczyzna region, the rooster was placed on wayside crosses and roofs – as finials or whether cocks. It was portrayed on iron and paper cut ornaments, on pottery (Łążek, Baranów) and on clothes.


The sun, as the ancient force of creation, was the centre of many ancient religions.
By emanating its light, it was a source of brightness that overcame the forces of chaos and death. With its round shape, it was linked with the symbolic of fire which had the power to fertilize and give life, with the warmth that was necessary for vegetation. Many religions stated that the sun that wanders the sky is a god (such as the Slavic god Swarog) or his epiphany; it was presented as the eye of the heavens. Shrines and temples were built to face east and prayers were also addressed in that direction. The sun was often the symbol of infinity, beginning, the source of energy and vital forces, fertility and good harvest, wisdom, truth, enlightenment and Christ (the day of winter solstice, 25h of December, was chosen in the 3rd century by the church authorities as the day of Christ’s birth; in ancient Rome it was celebrated as the day of the sun).
The ancient cult of the sun is often visible in ornaments on Easter eggs from the Lublin region. The first type of this motif was called an apple, the next one had a form of a circle adorned with spirals. Similar patterns were used on pottery created in Łążek, Pawłów, Baranów and Glinne.


The rosette is a solar symbol in many cultures and many peoples believed it to be magical. It was commonly used as a decoration motif in the form of a six-pointed star (a hexapental star). Since the Middle Ages it has been used to adorn doors, ceiling joists, crosses, cornices; it was used on coats of arms, everyday objects, furniture, musical instruments (e.g. the Biłgoraj suka) and on ritual items. Another name for the rosette is the flower of life. The architectural ornament in the form of a rosette is also called różyca (a rose) because it resembles the flower.
A rose is a symbol of fidelity, the sun, a star, life, the attribute of the goddesses of love, fertility, morning and spring. In Christianity it was the symbol of charity and God’s love and the attribute of Mary, among others. A red rose symbolized martyrdom, especially that of Christ, because of its blood-like colour, its structure based on the number five (associated with his five wounds) and thorns linked to the crown of thorns.
A rose-like flower painted on a dark blue background above the main ornament was a formal trademark of glass painted pictures created in the Lublin area during the 19th century.


Stars symbolized fate. It was believed that stars belonged to the spirit realm and were simultaneously bright openings in the sky. The fact that they were too numerous to count and that they shined with uneven brightness led people to believe that they constantly multiplied. According to folk beliefs it proved the fact that every person had their own star which appeared on the day they were born and fell when whey died. The star’s colour defined the person linked to it. Its dark light warned of close death, bright light meant good fortune, while red stars belonged to martyrs and saints.
The bright Bethlehem star led the three wise men and pointed to happiness and hope, to birth, purity, spiritual guidance and inspiration. The star, as a reference to Christ, was a part of the Eastern culture in the sense that according to its tradition, the king was usually called a Star or the Sun. Mary was sometimes called the Pole Star, who, by giving birth to the son of God, came before the sun-messiah. According to the Bible, a five-pointed star symbolized the key to the kingdom of heaven.
The act of observing stars was helpful in measuring the rhythm of day and night. The traditional Polish Christmas Eve supper started when the first star appeared in the evening sky. The sky also offered many insights and prophecies, for example, according to popular belief, many stars visible during the Christmas night meant a good year ahead.
In the Lublin region, star patterns were used to decorate Easter eggs and pottery. The motif was also used in paper cut ornaments, in folk embroidery, in blacksmithing and woodworking.


In many cultures and religions the heart is a symbol of love, charity, joy and sadness, conscience and moral courage, a source of spiritual enlightenment, truth and intelligence. According to the Bible it was a centre for all that is spiritual. It is a symbol of happiness and light, a source of life and vital forces, the residence of the soul. It pumps the life-giving blood and keeps humans alive. Placed in the centre of the body it has become the symbolic centre of a human being and a place of sacrum, of mediating with the divine. According to some ancient beliefs, the gods begun the act of creation from their hearts and it was the source of the most important gifts offered to humanity. The blessing of salvation comes from Jesus’ heart.
Since the beginning of Christianity, the heart of Jesus was considered an important part of the religion, but it was only in the 11th and 12th century that the first mentions of the cult of the sacred heart have been documented. After the 15th century, the five wounds of Christ (pierced heart, hands and feet) were portrayed on decorative rosettes and coats of arms and became incorporated into rosary cycles. Due to this cult, starting from the 16th century prayer books for common people were decorated with a heart, surrounded with a crown of thorns. The cult of the Immaculate Heart of Mary began in the 17th century. The symbol of Mary’s heart has also been used in art – it was then presented as pierced with a sword of sorrow, sometimes banded with roses and with beams of light coming out of its centre. A heart pierced with arrows, with a crown of thorns, a cross or held in a hand has become an attribute of saints.
Without touching the heart and without the love that flows from within it, no work of art could ever be created. In folk art it is usually used as a motif in ritual and decorative works, as a pattern on pottery and as an element of bodices form the Podlasie region, on iron wrought fittings or in wood carving.


The tree is a part of every religion, culture and folklore. The holy tree, the tree of Eden, the evergreen tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or the tree of life which has the power to grant immortality. It was believed to be the axis of the world (axis mundi), as it merged the underground, chthonic forces (the roots), the heavenly cosmic spheres (its branches) and life on earth (the trunk). The tree, by harnessing all four elements of nature (roots in earth and water, branches in sun and air) became the symbol of longevity, fertility and vital forces.
Christian art portrayed heaven as a garden full of trees and flowers. All branches of arts and crafts used the motif of the tree – as a whole or via its elements: flowers, leaves, twigs, cones. The cosmic tree (arbor mundi) was presented as surrounded by stars, with the sun amongst its branches or in an inverted position – with its roots in the sky and branches on the ground. It was interpreted as the tree of life, the symbol of renewing plants and unending fertility, the cycle of renewal of the vital forces.
The cross is a version of the tree.. It was sometimes believed that the it is the tree of life that grants life eternal. In some portrayals of the cross – from the Middle Ages to Baroque – the inanimate wood of the tree of torment sprouted with buds and twigs which made the crucifix resemble a tree.
In Polish traditional culture, and not only in the Lubelszczyzna region, plant decorations used during such celebrations as Christmas, Easter, the Green Week, Corpus Christi as well as during weddings were all associated with the tree of life. It was used as a decorative motif in paintings, on furniture (such as dowry chests), in cut paper art, in sculpture, woodcarving, embroidery, pottery and on traditional Easter egg decorations. The ornament had several variations: a tree, a shrub, a bouquet in a vase or a basket, a twig, a leaf, a flower. It was stylized as fir, spruce, fern and as many different species of plants, flowers and shrubs, most often fictional than reproduced from nature.

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Traditional design of the Lublin region – interior decorations

Traditional design of the Lublin region – interior decorations


Towards the end of the 19th century, village houses in the Lubelszczyzna region, which were usually adorned with painted or carved furniture and religious paintings, started to be decorated with colourful bedspreads, paper window curtains, paper cut ornaments (shaped like a circle, star, rosette, square) hung on ceilings and walls, colourful ornaments suspended from the ceiling called pająki (spiders – made of straw, grains, beans, peas, feathers, wool, flaxen or hemp thread, colourful paper, cloth, horsehair, bulrush, wood shavings, blown eggs), artificial flower bouquets on home altars, painted pottery displayed on shelves and in dressers, tapestries with floral motifs or fairytale landscapes. Homes were additionally decorated on special occasions such as religious holidays or family celebrations. Interiors were then decorated with works of ritual art that had magical or religious significance. These were Christmas wheat sheaves, Christmas wafer ornaments, podłaźniczki (Christmas ornaments made of decorated tree tops suspended from the ceiling), Christmas trees, Easter eggs, Easter palms, Green week calamus bundles, Corpus Christi garlands, wheat and herb bouquets blessed during the Assumption Day.
Christmas trees ware believed to have magical powers – they were a symbol of nature’s revival. The tradition of decorating Christmas trees became popular in the Lubelszczyzna region at the beginning of the 20th century, however, the custom was introduced to Poland from Germany at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries and has been popular in Germany since the 15th century. Before, it was customary to hang a podłaźniczka from the ceiling. It was a small tree or a tree top (usually spruce or pine) decorated with apples (that symbolized the fruit from the garden of Eden, love, vitality, health), nuts, golden painted flaxseed, colourful Christmas waffles and ribbons. It was always crowned with a świat (the world) – an ornament made of Christmas waffle. Later, Christmas trees were decorated in a similar manner, but more decorations were added. These were gingerbread cookies, candy, paper, crepe and straw ornaments, blown eggs, feather, etc. (e.g. the figures of ballerinas, angels, stars, jugs, spiders, also chains and pendants).
The Easter palm – which symbolized revival and had, according to popular belief, healing powers – was made of various plants. The types of herbs and twigs that were used were determined by tradition and the region where the palm was made. In the Lublin region, Easter palms were typically made of willow twigs, green periwinkle, dried flowers, sometimes rushes. Easter eggs were even more colourful. Egg decorations were created with the batik dyeing technique, with acid etching and with scratching. In the Lublin region, eggs decorated with the batik technique were divided into two groups: the northern group, with decorations made with single colour and straight lines, and the southern group, decorated with multiple colours and volutes and swirls. In the middle of the Lubelszczyzna region the two styles merged and eggs were often decorated with multiple colours and straight lines. Patterns on Easter eggs were typically arranged in halves (the egg was divided, either horizontally or vertically, in two halves), quarters or eights and medallions. Motifs were often placed on or around the spots where border lines crossed. Various geometric and floral motifs and astrological symbols that were used to decorate eggs had important, magical significance in the past. Motifs such as wheels (triskelions, swastikas), crow’s feet, rakes, suns, stars, twigs, trees and stylized flowers were most common. Easter eggs symbolized life, fertility, love and strength.
Herbs that could be found around households, on fields, meadows and in the forests, were used for divination and healing. Knowledge on herbs and their properties was gathered through observation or passed down from one generation to the next. People believed in magical powers that the herbs possessed, just like they believed in supernatural beings that could threaten humans and interfere with their health, life, activities and possessions. That is why various protective tools and behaviours emerged. These typically involved the use of herbs such as St John’s wort, poppy, lovage, nettle, garlic, thyme, stonecrop and chamomile. Coniferous trees such as fir, pine and spruce, as well as hazel and elderberry were also believed to repel demons. All of them were supposed to have powerful healing capabilities during the night of the Feast of St. John and on Assumption Day. Palms, bouquets and garlands that were blessed during holidays were kept at home for the entire year and used on various occasions. It was believed that they can protect against ill fate, disease, lightning, witchcraft and evil and could grant the household with luck, health, good fortune and plentiful harvest. Garlands were sometimes hung on doors, bouquets were placed behind religious paintings, palms were used to incense the sick or to urge cattle during the first pasturage in a year, they was also put in freshly ploughed earth.
Folk culture was closely connected to religion. It was alive and spontaneously created, but also based on tradition, customs, language and art. It was often merged with numerous elements of folklore. The folk version of the Bible functioned as many dispersed narratives and images and was circulated in a primarily oral form. People believed in the story of God’s creation and in the links between the natural and supernatural world. The beliefs offered a sense of belonging and unity with the world and gave people the tools to face the elements of death and destruction. Nature allowed the existence of life (the sun gave warmth, the land and plants – food, rivers – water), farm and forest animals, birds and insects (bees in particular) gave food and materials, guarded households, informed of future events and phenomena (heralded good and ill luck, foretold the weather or death), attracted good fortune and banished evil. Humans and the world functioned according to the do ut des (I give so that you will give) rule, the rule of reciprocity – animals, plants and the land were grateful for good treatment, care, hard work and repaid with faithful service, ample growth and plentiful harvest. Traditional culture was full of themes that could be interpreted as cults of natural phenomena or objects – such as the moon, the sun and fire. These were directly linked to the idea of animate nature. Thus, the naturalistic vision of the world was magical in character, and magic and religion were closely connected – spells often took the form of prayers.

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Traditional design of the Lublin region – clothing decoration

Traditional design of the Lublin region – clothing decoration


Ornamentation in folk clothing has been developing since Renaissance and Baroque. Sources from the 18th century describe various adornments. These were usually appliques, braiding, embroidery, tin buttons and studded belts. Types and forms of ornaments in folk clothing were influenced by the fact that peasants were ordered to produce embroidery, lace and entire clothes for the court and the church during the serfdom period. Thus, some non-traditional elements became incorporated into folk garments. Trends usually reached smaller villages via the cities and, since the 18th century, via the nobles who started abandoning their “Sarmatian” style and adopting newer fashions. Travelling tradesmen, craftsmen and workers such as rafters or sieve makers and traders were also responsible for spreading new trends in clothing. However, they were not passively accepted, but treated as an inspiration. Only certain elements, e.g. the cut of military coats, were incorporated into traditional clothing. Exterior influences were also evident in the variety of embroidery patterns and ornaments, which were influenced by other ethnic groups and regions that Lubelszczyzna bordered with – namely Polesie, Volhynia and Podole.
The second part of the 19th century saw a boom in the development of folk clothing – when it comes to material, form and ornamentation. Peasants became richer and more fabrics, dyes, haberdashery and inexpensive ornaments were manufactured in factories. This lead to more ornaments in clothing and the attempts to keep up with current trends, which subsequently caused the regional styles to diverge even more. While clothing from the Biłgoraj or Włodawa areas remained handwoven and home sewn, clothes from Krzczonów were transforming rapidly – when it comes to cuts and decorations – under the heavy influence of the city culture. However, it was most frequent for the old and the new elements to be mixed together. Handwoven and homespun fabrics were combined with velvet and manufactured haberdashery – such as sequins, beads, colourful tapes and strings, satin ribbons, silver and gold threads – to create unique and astonishingly beautiful garments.
Clothes, especially formal wear, constituted an important part of folk culture and people spared no expense to make them more ornate. They demonstrated the economic and social status of the wearer, but more importantly, they manifested the cultural identity of an individual. Clothes could indicate marital status and age. Young girls’ dresses differed from those worn by married women and widows. Maidens and young married women wore brighter and more vivid colours than older women, who dressed in darker and more toned hues. Some elements of clothing differentiated bachelors from married men – young men could wear fancier hat decorations and more vivid coloured vests or tunics.
In the middle of the 19th century, under the influence of the city fashion, bonnets and tulle half bonnets became popular, especially in the Krzczonów and Lubartów areas. They were given to brides as gifts on their wedding day; every married woman owned at least a couple of bonnets. They were decorated with ruffles, lace and white thread embroidery. Bonnets have been popular among European noble and bourgeois ladies since the 15th century and were readily accepted by Polish women, also in the country. The embroidery was elaborate and precise and depicted ornaments that were usually floral, with geometric patterns on the edges. It was usually created with a stitching technique that was determined by the tulle mesh pattern. The edges of the bonnets were trimmed with lace or scalloped and hemmed with a blanket stitch. Artificial flowers and leaves as well as ribbons were added as additional ornaments.
Elaborately braided bodices were also incredibly ornamental. Dark coloured (e.g. black, claret, navy blue and green) fabrics such as velvet or satin were perfectly matched with colourful embroidery. Bodices from Krzczonów were originally decorated with colourful ribbons and tapes, later with silver and gold thread, glossy ribbons, metallic threads and sequins. Corsets from the Bug river region belonged to a different category – they were decorated with the heart motif, trimmed with red and green ribbons, backstitched with a yellow thread and sometimes embroidered with silver thread and sequins. Bodices worn by the wives of sieve merchants and residents of Tarnogród also had their own appeal. They were made out of colourful brocade embroidered with metallic threads, out of colourful Chinese silk with jacquard flower ornaments or of single-colour damask silk.
Printing fabrics was another interesting way to decorate clothes. The technique was used in the second half of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century. It involved imprinting ornaments on homespun cloth with wooden stamps covered with paint. The cloth was then used to sew skirts, called malowanki (painted skirts/objects). The printed ornaments were geometrized or floral, single-coloured, most often black, dark blue, blue or green. It was an unwritten rule that the pattern and colour used allowed others to identify the village the wearer came from. In the Tomaszów Lubelski area, cloth printed in stripes or checks was used not only to make skirts, but also to sew men’s trousers. Fabrics were usually printed by small-town tailors and pedlars, usually Jews, who worked in the Biłgoraj, Zamość, Krasnystaw, Hrubieszów and Tomaszów Districts. However, the technique was also used in the areas of Chełm and Włodawa.
A great variety of stitches and embroidered ornaments could be found in the Lubelszczyzna region. Types of used ornaments were determined by the area from which the dress came from. The decorations typically had striped composition and were used on shirts, corsets, aprons, skirts, frock coats, sheepskin coats, vests and hats.
Embroidery patterns on clothes from the Krzczonów area were organized in horizontal stripes that run parallel to the garment’s decorated edges. The oldest needlework was usually done in white and red, and additional colours, such as blue, yellow, black and orange, were added gradually later. Types of stitches also changed. Traditional backstitching, blanket stitch, drawn thread work and chain stitch was supplemented at the beginning of the 20th century with the cross stitch, which replaced other stitching techniques with time. Decoration motifs also changes – geometric patterns were enriched with stylised floral compositions.
The cross stitch patterns used on clothing from the Hrubieszów and Tomaszów areas were inspired by decorations from the nearby Volhynia. Floral motifs were the most common ornaments. Cross and satin stitches were used to decorate shirts, aprons, and women’s waistcoats. Tunics and waistcoats were also decorated with appliques and buttons, while russet and sheepskin coats were adorned with braiding.
Clothes made in the Biłgoraj area were typically adorned with geometrical embroidery (created with chain, satin, back and blanket stitches), which was arranged in stripes and was determined by the structure of the fabric. Women’s clothing was decorated with red and black, and later with blue patterns of intricate stitches. There were also two- and three-colour motifs which combined red, black and blue. Volutes and spirals were the most popular decorative motifs. They were used as a single motif or in patterns of twos, threes or fives (often arranged in the form of a tree). Russet coats were trimmed with braids, and sheepskin coats were embroidered with green and red satin stitches that formed patterns such as paws (three triangles arranged so that their tips touch), chests (a type of an isosceles triangle) and stars (circular shapes made by radial stitches). At the beginning of the 20th century, artisans started adorning men’s and women’s garments with more or less geometrized floral motifs made with cross stitches.
Perebory (or peretyki) was an interesting weaving technique of ornamenting fabrics that was popular in areas influenced by the Belorussian culture or inhabited by Rus people. It was used to adorn clothes in the Podlaski region style (in two variants – Włodawa and Bug styles), however, it was not known among the Rus residents of the Tomaszów, Biłgoraj and Chełm District. Weavers typically used factory cotton yarn in black, brown, navy blue and red (yellow and orange was originally used as an accent colour). A large number of ornaments arranged in stripes was usually woven on a big sheet of canvas and then cut into smaller parts and sawn onto clothes, e.g., shirts (as collars, cuffs, shoulder patches and bands). The woven design was usually made of rhombuses, triangles, squares, stars, crosses, herringbone patterns and flowers (especially in perebory made in the district of Parczew). Fabric for skirts, aprons and headdresses was woven together with the perebory ornament. Cross-stitch became widely used in the Podlaski region during the interwar period. Men’s shirts were usually ornamented with red and black geometric patterns arranged in stripes.
Lace, which was imported to Poland from Italy and Flanders in the 16th century, became widely used in folk costumes only at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Factory-made lace was used together with hand-made net and crotchet lace. It was used to hem shirt cuffs and collars as well as frock coats, aprons, bonnets, sometimes skirts (in the Bug, Tomaszów and Hrubieszów areas).
During World War I, men in the Lubelszczyzna region often wore leather belts with decorative buckles. The belts were decorated with brass circles or impressed ornaments (rhombuses, stars, circles, crosses, wheels and volutes) arranged in lines and made with iron stamps. Kalita, a traditional bag worn in the Biłgoraj area, was decorated in a similar fashion. At the beginning of the 20th century, leather belts in Krzczonów-style clothing were replaced by velveteen belts which were fastened by hooks, decorated with cut out patterns (okienka) and embroidered with bugles and sequins; or with velvet belts, trimmed with a red or green fringe, decorated with metallic thread, sequins and glass beads. In costumes from the Podlasie region, leather belts were replaced by colourful, woven belts like krajka (made of striped flax) and pojas (made of red-orange wool). Men girded their coats twice and tied the belts into a bow – either at the front or on the left hip. Krajka belts were also used by women.
The importance of traditional clothing caused garment decoration to become one of the most important fields of folk arts and crafts. Clothing constituted a colourful, spatial work of art produced by its owner as well as village and small-town artisans such as weavers, fullers, tailors, embroiderers, lacemakers, shoemakers and coat makers.

Bartnik R., Ubiór ludowy okolic Powiśla Lubelskiego – oryginał i wyobrażenie w grafice i malarstwie polskim [Folk clothing from the Powiśle Lubelskie region], in: Brzezińska A. W., Tymochowicz M. (red.), Atlas polskich strojów ludowych. Stroje ludowe jako fenomen kulturowy, Warszawa 2013, p. 167-180.
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Czasznicka Z., Zdobione gorsety ludowe [Decorated traditional bodices], „Polska Sztuka Ludowa” 1953, no. 3, p. 159-164.
Fryś-Pietraszkowa E., Iracka A., Pokropek M. (ed.), Sztuka ludowa w Polsce [Traditional art in Poland], Warszawa 1988.
Greniuk P., Druki ludowe na płótnie w południowej Lubelszczyźnie [Fabric printing in the southern Lubelszczyzna region], „Polska Sztuka Ludowa” 1949, no. 9/10, p. 268-285.
Karwicka T., Ubiory ludowe w Polsce [Traditional folk clothing in Poland], Wrocław 1995.
Karwicka T., Zdobnictwo ubiorów i ręczników lnianych północno-wschodniej Lubelszczyzny [Decorations of linen clothing and headdresses in the north-east Lubelszczyzna region], „Studia i Materiały Lubelskie”, Etnografia 2, Lublin 1967, p. 7-62.
Kaznowska-Jarecka B., Strój biłgorajsko-tarnogrodzki [Traditional clothing from the Biłgoraj and Tarnów areas], Wrocław 1958.
Kępa E., Ludowy strój kobiecy z Powiśla Lubelskiego [Traditional women’s clothing from Powiśle Lubelskie], „Twórczość Ludowa” 1992, no. 1-2, p.30-35.
Kępa E., Męski strój ludowy z Powiśla Lubelskiego [Traditional men’s clothing from Powiśle Lubelskie], part 1 „Twórczość Ludowa” 1997, no. 4, p. 10-14; part 2 „Twórczość Ludowa” 1998, no. 1, p. 16-19.
Kępa E., Zdobnictwo strojów ludowych na Lubelszczyźnie [Traditional clothes decorations in the Lubelszczyzna region], Lublin 1984.
Ligęza Z., O strojach ludowych regionu lubartowskiego [On traditional folk clothing from the Lubartów area], „Lubartów i Ziemia Lubartowska” 1956, p. 18-21; 1958, p. 18-21; 1959, p. 46-47.
Ławicka A., Piękno zaklęte w drobiazgu. Elementy dekoracyjne w strojach ludowych Lubelszczyzny [The beauty of details. Ornaments in traditional clothing from the Lubelszczyzna region] , in: Brzezińska A. W., Tymochowicz M. (ed.), Atlas polskich strojów ludowych. Stroje ludowe jako fenomen kulturowy, Warszawa 2013, p. 161-166.
Ławicka A., Tymochowicz M., Strój sitarki z Biłgorajskiego [Sieve maker’s clothes from the Biłgoraj area], „Spotkanie z Zabytkami” 2005, no. 2, p. 33-34.
Ławicka A., Tymochowicz M., Strój sitarki z okolic Tarnogrodu i Biłgoraja [Sieve maker’s clothes from the Tarnogród and Biłgoraj areas], „Kwartalnik Tarnogrodzki”, 2005, no. 22, p. 8-11.
Malewska Z., Gorset w ludowym stroju polskim [Bodices in traditional Polish clothing], „Prace i Materiały Etnograficzne” 1961, cz.1 Lubelskie, p. 360-384.
Maszyńska E. (red.), Haft i zdobienie stroju ludowego [Traditional clothing decoration and embroidery], Warszawa 1955.
Petera J., Co dawniej noszono, czyli XIX-wieczna moda zamojskich wieśniaków [What people used to wear – 19th century fashion among peasantry from the Zamość area], „Zamojski Kwartalnik Kulturalny” 1984, no. 2, p. 41-47.
Petera J., Chełmskie stroje ludowe na przełomie XIX i XX w. [Traditional clothing from Chełm at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries], „Rocznik Chełmski” 1996, vol. 2, p. 431-439.
Petera J., Ludowy strój hrubieszowski [Traditional folk clothing from Hrubieszów], „Twórczość Ludowa” 1992, no. 1-2, p. 24-29.
Petera J., Ludowy strój zamojski na przełomie XIX i XX w. [Traditional clothing from Zamość at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries], „Studia i Materiały Lubelskie” 1987, vol. 12, p. 61-108.
Petera J., Stroje ludowe Lubelszczyzny, „Kalendarz Lubelski” 1973, p. 170-180.
Petera J., Stroje ludowe Zamojszczyzny [Traditional folk clothing from the Zamojszczyzna region], in: Przyczynki do etnografii Zamojszczyzny, Zamość 1995, p. 41-45.
Piskorz-Branekova E., Polskie hafty i koronki. Zdobienia stroju ludowego [Polish lace and embroidery. Traditional clothing decorations], Warszawa 2005.
Piskorz-Branekova E., Polskie stroje ludowe [Polish traditional clothing], vol.1-3, Warszawa 2006-2007.
Piskorz-Branekova E., Tradycyjne stroje i zdobienia biłgorajskie [Traditional clothing and decorations from Biłgoraj], Zamość 2013.
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Piskorz-Branekova E., Tradycyjny haft ludowy w stroju zamojskim [Traditional folk embroidery in clothing from Zamość], Lublin-Zamość 2009.
Reinfuss R., Polskie druki ludowe na płótnie [Traditional fabric printing in Poland], Warszawa 1953.
Sułkowski W., Strój łukowski [Traditional clothing from Łuków], „Polska Sztuka Ludowa” 1968, no. 4, p. 181-198.
Świeży J., Ludowe stroje głów kobiecych w województwie lubelskim [Traditional women’s headdresses in the Lublin Province], „Prace i Materiały Etnograficzne” 1961, cz. 1, p. 392-416.
Świeży J., Stroje ludowe Lubelszczyzny [Traditional folk clothing from the Lubelszczyzna region], Warszawa 1954.
Świeży J., Strój krzczonowski {Traditional clothing from Krzczonów], Poznań 1952.
Świeży J., Strój podlaski (nadbużański) [Traditional clothing from the Podlasie (Bug) region], Wrocław 1958.
Świeży J., Ubiory i tkaniny ludowe [Folk fabrics and clothes], Lublin 1960.
Turska J., Polski haft ludowy [Traditional Polish embroidery], Warszawa 1997.
Tymochowicz M., Strój świąteczny mieszkańców Garbowa z przełomu XIX i XX w. [Traditional festive clothing from Garbów at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries], „Głos Garbowa” 2002, no. 12, p. 4-7.

Traditional design of the Lublin region – pottery

Traditional design of the Lublin region – pottery


Potters from the Lubelszczyzna region created characteristic grey pottery (called siwiaki) and biscuit ware in different shades of red and brown. The pottery was often glazed in brown, red, green, ochre, white and cream coating – the glaze strengthened the items and made them more aesthetic and decorative.
Many traditional pottery decoration techniques have survived until today. These are carving, impressing, adding reliefs and polishing. Paining was a newer technique which was probably introduced in the 18th century and became widespread only at the end of the 19th century. Traditional pottery carving techniques have been preserved and are still practiced in towns and cities such as Bidaczów Stary and Bidaczów Nowy (Biłgoraj District), Urzędów (Kraśnik District), Łuków, Glinne (Łuków District), Firlej (Lubartów District) and Baranów (Puławy District). Patterns such as straight and broken lines, zigzags, waves, also drawings, inscriptions and outlines of painted motifs were incised in clay with a sharp tool. The technique of carving the outlines of paintings was used by potters from Pawłów in the Chełm District and was inspired by Hucul pottery. Impressing techniques were popular in the same areas – except for Baranów. Artisans usually stamped simple patterns like dots or serration in raw pottery using a special tool or a finger. Sometimes blacksmith stamps were used (Urzędów). Relief ornaments such as bumps, rolls, volutes and flowers were popular in three pottery centres: in Bidaczów, Urzędów and Łążek (Janów Lubelski District).
The technique of polishing was used on grey pottery in the Biłgoraj centre (Bidaczów, Kolonia Sól), near Łuków (Glinne), Lubarwów (Firlej) and in Biała Podlaska, Parczew, Międzyrzec Podlaski and Włodawa. Dry ware typically had a course and matte surface, but it became silvery and shiny after being polished with a flint stone and fired.
Some of the patterns that were carved, impressed or added as reliefs on pottery were also painted. Potters from Pawłów, Baranowice, Firlej, Łuków and Biała Podlaska painted straight and broken lines, waves, spirals and dots. Chains and checks were painted in Wola Dereźniańska (Biłgoraj District), Baranów and Pawłów; stars and circles in Pawłów. The patterns were usually arranged in radial compositions. Flowers were the most popular among floral motifs. Pottery produced in Glinno, Pawłów, Baranów, Łążek, Kaznów (Lubartów District) and Łuków was typically decorated with flower motifs. Fern was a less common decoration which could be seen on pottery from Łążek and Pawłów; so was the palmette, used in Łążek, Pawłów and Baranów. Potters also used floral, geometricized motifs such as: trees (Łążek, Pawłów, Baranów, Biała Podlaska), swirling stems and star-shaped flowers (Pawłów). Zoomorphic ornaments were represented by birds sitting on twigs or among flowers. They were painted in Łążek, Baranów and Pawłów – on the bottoms of bowls and sometimes also on jugs.
Some pottery centres used characteristic ornament compositions. Potters in the Łążek area presented a very distinct style of decorations. Pottery was painted with a brush or a cone. Most commonly used patterns were: straight and wavy stripes, ladders, dots, garlands, swirling rosettes, multi-petal flowers, stars, spirals, fir branches, crow’s feet, hearts, palmettes, trees and zoomorphic motifs – especially roosters. The birds were usually painted with broad strokes, had small heads, stocky, long necks, rounded bodies and wide, fan-like tails. Roosters had short and bended legs and feet painted with a couple of dots or lines – to imitate the claws. Their wings were usually depicted as a single patch of colour. It was difficult to find two identical birds painted of plates, bowls, vases, jugs and pots.
Pottery from Baranów (light brown background with cream-coloured slit ornaments) was also decorated with many motifs. The most popular patterns were: herringbone, circles, waves, dots, leaves, dot flowers and birds – roosters (usually placed on the bottoms of bowls). Geometric motifs were less varied – line patterns were created by combining straight and wavy lines with dots, arches, checks and spirals. Pottery from Firlej could be distinguished by the patterns composed of big dots or serration placed right below the edges of the items. In Glinne, potters used characteristic bands and sun motifs to decorate pots, jugs and flower pots; and flowers to decorate bowls.
Gray pottery from Biała Podlaska and Pawłów was also adorned with interesting ornaments. The most common decoration in the Biała Podlaska region was a straight or wavy band with circles or a herringbone pattern above it. Potters also used polished stripes, straight, wavy, broken or dotted lines, stretched spirals, volutes, dots, checks, triangles, meanders, palmettes, trees. Grey pottery from Pawłów was characterized by even richer ornaments. Most popular patterns were wavy chains, straight, wavy and zigzag bands and fern motifs. At first, painted and glazed pottery ware was decorated with simple, geometricized motifs (lines, dots, flowers, herringbone). Later, it was decorated with stylized plants and flowers.

Cieśla-Reinfussowa Z., Siwaki w Białej Podlaskiej [Grey pottery from Biała Podlaska], „Polska Sztuka Ludowa” 1954, no. 5, p. 273-295.
Delimat T., Garncarstwo ludowe w województwie lubelskim [Pottery in the Lubelskie Province], „Prace i Materiały Etnograficzne”, 1961, part 1, p. 29-138.
Fryś-Pietraszkowa E., Garncarstwo ludowe Lubelszczyzny [Folk pottery of the Lubelszczyzna region], „Polska Sztuka Ludowa” 1957, no. 1, p. 37-41.
Fryś-Pietraszkowa E., Ośrodek garncarski w Łążku Ordynackim na tle ceramiki malowanej w Polsce [The Łążek Ordynacki pottery centre and painted pottery in Poland], Wrocław 1973.
Gołub S., Pawlak J., Pawłowski ośrodek garncarski [The Pawłów pottery centre], „Twórczość Ludowa” 1998, no. 2-3, p. 33-34.
Kępa E., Garncarstwo ludowe Lubelszczyzny [Folk pottery of the Lubelszczyzna region], „Twórczość Ludowa” 1995, no. 1, p. 18-23.
Reinfuss R., Garncarstwo ludowe [Traditional pottery], Warszawa 1955.
Wojtan A., Garncarze z Urzędowa [Potters from Urzędów], „Twórczość Ludowa” 1997, no. 1, p. 23-24.


Traditional design of the Lublin region – artistic metalwork

Traditional design of the Lublin region – artistic metalwork


After property rights were granted to peasants in the second half of the 19th century and their financial situation improved, more people wanted to emphasize and display their wealth by elegant and decorative clothes, ornaments in and on their homes and ornate everyday objects. Elegant carriages were commissioned to be flaunted on various occasions such as fairs, church celebrations and weddings. The period also saw the heyday of folk and artistic blacksmithing – in Poland and in the Lubelszczyzna region. Blacksmithing catered to the aesthetic needs of the people, according to their preferences when it comes to forms and decorative motifs. However, the craft was not as diversified in styles as, for example, tailoring.
Decorative metal shaping was the most popular ornamental technique and was used to create fittings for doors, furniture and carriages and to form window bars. The technique of stacking thin, shaped or openwork metal sheets together was less common. The openwork technique was typically used for chest and trunk fittings. More often blacksmiths would emboss patterns with stamps – especially on the fittings on carriages, on various iron tools, hinges, crosses, less frequently on locks.
Blacksmith ornaments were characterized by a simple form and a clear composition which was dominated by the principles of symmetry and rhythm. Geometrical ornaments (rhombus, trapezoids, ellipses, circles, crosses, stars, hearts) were most common in horizontal and central compositions, while simple floral motifs (leaves, flowers, twisting twigs, vine stems) and animal motifs (bird heads, hens, roosters, eagles, snakes, dragons, horses – used individually or in symmetrical pairs) were less common. Blacksmithing items such as door and window hinges, locks and latches (which were originally made of wood), and later pin locks, hasp staples (staples for padlocks), spring locks with door handles and backplates and window bars were also typically shaped and ornamented. Metal sheet ornaments were used on roofs as windfeders, finials and weathercocks, at the end of drainpipes, as elements of furniture (chest fittings and hinges, lock plates in chests, dressers and wardrobes), as home tools (cleavers), farming tools (sickles, hammers, plough blades) and craft tools (anvils, bellow nozzles, clamps, hammers, drawknives, wood planes, axes) and carriage fittings (shafts, steps, backrests, basket fittings).
Iron crosses constituted a separate branch of folk artistic blacksmithing. They were forged by local blacksmiths and placed on graves, cemetery gates or on top of roadside shrines and crosses. In the Lubelszczyzna region it was also popular to place metal sheet ornaments on the surface of wooden crosses – these were circular, lace cut sheets, rectangular or triangular metal flakes with embossed floral or geometric ornaments, shaped, semicircular, metal roofs with lace edges or rooster figures on top of the crosses.

Gauda A., Ludowe krzyże żelazne na Lubelszczyźnie [Traditional iron crosses of the Lubelszczyzna region], „Twórczość Ludowa” 1990, no. 2, p. 31-36.
Gauda A., Ludowe krzyże żelazne na Lubelszczyźnie [Traditional iron crosses of the Lubelszczyzna region], „Studia i Materiały Lubelskie” 1987, vol. 12, p. 109-144.
Powiłańska-Mazur D., Kowalstwo ludowe na terenie Lubelskiego Zagłębia Węglowego [Folk blacksmithing in the Lublin Coal Basin], „Twórczość Ludowa” 1995, no. 2-3, p. 47-53.
Reinfuss R., Ludowe kowalstwo artystyczne w Polsce [Traditional artistic metalwork in Poland], Wrocław 1983.
Reinfuss R., Polskie ludowe kowalstwo artystyczne [Polish folk artistic metalwork], „Polska Sztuka Ludowa” 1953, no. 6, p. 348-376.
Zwolakiewicz K., Krzyże żelazne, szczytowe i ozdoby krzyżów przydrożnych z okolic Łęcznej [Iron and top crosses, and wayside crosses ornaments in the Łęczna area] , „Orli Lot” 1929, p. 126-129.