Throughout the history of civilisation we have come across unique places whose tangible forms have invoked an intangible, sacred reality of the absolute. Stone circles, Buddhist stupas, Islamic marabou storks, temples of all the religions of the world, or the Masonic Temple of Salomon are invariably a testament to the human need for contact with the supernatural, the esoteric experience of the force of nature, the world of the initiated and saints, and ultimately of the Divine. Churches and chapels are precisely such places where the human person is introduced to the good news of the sacred book of the Bible. Nature, the dominant characteristic of their locations, is a major element of their existence, with an impact on human sensitivity and imagination. Nature in fact enhances the sacred message conveyed and is living and palpable proof of divine creation. Irrespective of whether the place is enclosed within the church walls or open up to the surrounding landscape, the sacred enters into a relation with the human profane and they make up a complete whole in the mysticism of the Man-God who overcame death.

Nature dies down and is reborn in periodic cycles. This is attested to by the great myths of humanity; each year Demeter bemoans the disappearance of Kore in the realm of Hades only to rejoice at her re-emergence in the spring. The material, in this case wood, is a significant aspect of reflection on this architecture. Wood is a potent symbol of great significance for the history of civilisation and the development of religion. Wood is a building material as well as a vehicle of an esoteric message, used for the construction of sacred buildings, the ark of the covenant and the cross, the figures of gods and the enlightened; the tree of life is one of the greatest symbols.

Director of the National Museum in Gdańsk
Wojciech Bonisławski

The Small Sacred Architecture of Kashubia

This book is the result of the Remnants of Prayers project realised by the National Museum in Gdańsku under the Promotion of Cultural and Artistic Diversity programme concerning the European cultural heritage. The project focused on the detailed ethnographic documentation of wayside chapel-shrines in broadly conceived Gdańsk Pomerania, Żuławy Lowlands and Kashubia. This is a monograph that shows the specificity of the religiousness of Kashubia, Kociewie, the Żuławy Lowlands, Powiśle and the Slovinian Lakeland by showing the issues related to the manifestation of these feelings as expressed by wayside chapel-shrines. It is also very important that the specificity of this religiousness has been illustrated from the historical, cultural, social and theological point of view. Not only have the sacred facilities been analysed in detail here, but also the authors have attempted to view them from a broad comparative anthropological perspective.

Katarzyna Marciniak

We are presenting you an album REMNANTS OF PRAYERS, which has been published by the National Museum in Gdańsk, together wih the National Museum of Iceland and Norwegian Riksantikvaren and already sent to Polish, Icelandic and Norwegian libraries, as an adition to their national collections.

This album is a documentation of a photographic and artistic project “To Sustain the National Heritage”, which covered the area of Kashubia, Iceland and Norway.

During photo research journeys through those places artists from various cultural spheres could confront themselves first with familar and then with completely new cultural issues, by taking photos of Kashubian roadside shrines, Icelandic torf churches and Norwegian stave churches stavkirke, with the use of diverse, often antique, photography techinques.

The result of this experiment is this album, which you can now download as a PDF document. The album is written in four languages: Polish, English, Norwegian and Icelandic.

Photographers in the book are:

Marcin Czapliński (Pl)
Fridrik Orn (Isl)
Wlodek Witek (No)
Marcin Kaliński (Pl)
Dariusz Kula (Pl)
Tomek Zerek (Pl)

We wish you a pleasant read!