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Sołtys Croft in Jurgów

 

Jurgów is the south-westernmost village in Polish Spisz. Among its densely arrayed houses, one can find a small number of relics of Spisz wooden architecture in addition to brick houses with decorated façades typical of the region.

The earliest documents where the village features under its Hungarian name, Gyurgow, come from the 18th century. The location of the village, its severe climate, not propitious to the cultivation of land and the vicinity of the Jaworzyńskie range of the Tatra Mountains determined the living conditions of the population. The main source of sustenance here was shepherding. The villagers herded flocks in the mountain pastures and clearings of a huge estate in the Jaworzyńskie Tatra Mountains. In 1848, on the strength of the affranchisement decree, they were made owners of the pastures used. In the second half of the 19th century, however, their mountain pastures and mountain-foot clearings became part of Prince Christian Hohenlohe’s estate, which was being integrated, in exchange for which the owners received pastures in the vicinity of their villages. The Podokólne clearing went to the villagers of Jurgów. Today we may see here shepherds’ sheds that the shepherds transported to the spot over a century ago from the clearings in the Jaworzyńskie Tatra Mountains.

The Sołtys croft was built in 1861 by the great-grandfather of the last owner, Jakub Sołtys. Then members of the successive generations of the family inherited the croft. After World War II, part of the family moved to a newly built house while the Tatra Museum purchased the old croft in 1982 with a view to putting on an ethnographic exhibition here. In contrast to the rich Korkosz Croft in Czarna Góra, the cottage and the farm buildings making up the Sołtys Croft are an example of a poor turn-of-the-century Spisz farm.

The wooden croft is composed of a home with farm buildings laid-out in sequence under the same roof. In the dwelling section, we have a vestibule, chamber and komora (larder). Built of logs, the vestibule, which contains a chest for storing the grain, stave vessels used in shepherding for carrying water and for carrying and storing milk plus utensils necessary around the croft, leads to the chamber. There is only one chamber in the Sołtys Croft. Here the family slept, prepared their meals and entertained guests. The chamber walls are made of logs cut into halves, planed inside and roughly hewn outside. Beneath the ceiling runs the main beam with a carved date of the completion of the building and a rosette motif. The modest furniture includes a stove which once had an open range with iron tripods used for cooking, a bed, a shelf where pots and pans were kept, benches and a table with, hanging above it, pictures on glass later replaced with chromolithographs. Other embellishments of the chamber are small wall hangings, and so is ornamented pottery put up above the table. Rods suspended above the bed and near the stove act as wardrobe.

 

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Translated & edited by: Joanna Holzman, Adrian Smith, Anna Wende-Surmiak