Zakopane, Kopa Królowej

Among other material form the city of Zakopane, there is the story behind the name of the Kościeliska Valley [from ‘kości’ – bones]:

“The origin of the name Kościeliska Valley is interesting. During one of the wars in Poland the enemy army came to this region. The Polish highlanders, Górals, pretended to withdraw and moved back between the mountains. When the enemy army came after them, the Górals blocked them the way back by dropping rocks and trees from summits. Next, they annihilated the enemy. The name of the valley derives from the numerous bones which supposedly remain there. However, the battle is believed actually to have taken place in the Biały Potok Valley next to Giewont Mountain, along the road from Zakopane to Kościelisko. The numerous human bones which can be seen there give evidence to this fact. Some people say that the enemies where Swedes; others say they were Tatars”.

In the material from this town, there is also a story of Potwora [a female monster]:

“One young shepherd, a very nimble, funny and amusing boy told me a tale about Potwora who was a shepherd. She used to sing sad songs because she did not have anything to wear. However, it turned out that she was very difficult to please, since, when the sensitive Górals decided to give her some clothes, she shouted reproachfully ‘You paid me too early!’ And disappeared forever”.

The accounts from this monograph include a story about a brogand called Janosik:

“Janosik was a famous brigand. He was untouchable until he had three golden hair hidden in a black mop. One day, he allowed his lover to play with his hair. She tore the three hairs out and turned him in. He was caught in a fish net and hung from the ceiling. However, his axe started to jump on its own and even though it was caught, it managed to release itself. His captors put the iron shoes on him and cooked him. They tried to force the brigand to promise that he will change, yet he considered that disgraceful and told them ‘Eat me since you have already cooked me’. In the end he stated that if the emperor had released him he would have joined his army. However, he was granted a pardon too late”.

The Górals have their own treatments for sicknesses:

“If somebody has diarrhoea, they take a chain from a cart and boil it in the water. Next, they put it in the sick person’s mouth to stop the symptoms”.

While Kolberg stayed in Zakopane, he went to the domed hill called Kopa Królowej, which is located near the Gąsienicowe Lakes. On a pasture he met some Górals who sang him their songs. Moreover, he collected here other melodies and songs. Many of them are just quick notes made while musicians were improvising. 

The material collected by Jan Kleczyński constitutes an integral part of the archive of the Podhale region.

In the years 1879-1884, many years after Kolberg, there were other people who documented folk melodies from this region, among others Tytus Chałubiński, Ignacy Jan Paderewski and Jan Kleczyński. Chałubiński and Paderewski shared their archive with Kleczyński, who in 1888, published his work ‘Melodie zakopiańskie i podhalskie’ [The Melodies from Zakopane and Podhale] in ‘Pamiętnik Towarzystwa Tatrzańskiego’ [The Diary of the Tatra Society]. Kolberg copied this work; however he omitted the piano accompaniment, which was added by Kleczyński to the original melodies. This version of Kleszczyński’s work was included in volume 45 of CWOK, entitled ‘The Region of Mountains’.

The following excerpt is a description of a traditional highland dance, Zbójnicki, collected in the 19th century by Jan Kleczyński and edited by Oskar Kolberg:

“Thanks to professor Chałubiński I had the opportunity to watch a so-called Zbójnicki dance. Those massive performances took place both inside and outside. The Górals hold their axes, surround the bonfire, and make circles around it stomping very loudly. The second part of the dance is more lively. They jump very high and, when they fall down, they do deep knee bends”.

The reflection of Kleczyński on the usage of the adjective – old – by the Górals is worth mentioning “They instinctively guess which song is ‘old’ and accurately choose those which have the features of traditional music”.