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The Department of Ethnography with its 7000 items, chronicles folk, plebeian and bourgeois culture of Upper-Silesia and its neighbouring regions. The majority of exhibits date from the second half of the 19th century until the mid-20th century. The oldest of them include the 17th century oil painting ”Rosary Mother of God”, silver pins, large Jablunkov buttons from the 17th-18th  century, an embroidered scarf from Opole, gingerbread pans and ornamented Silesian wardrobes from the 18th  century.

The collection is divided into the following sections:
Folk costumes (over 1000 items) from different parts of Upper-Silesia (from Rozbark, Pszczyna, Cieszyn, Racibórz, Opole and Silesian Highlands) as well as Wilamów and Hutsul dress. Among them are unique caps: a 19th  century lace bonnet from Racibórz, a ‘baker’s’ hat from 1920s and an intricately embroidered cap from Katowice-Bogucice from the early 20th century, 19th-20th century ornamented bodices and a man’s shirt as part of folk dress from Pszczyna from the 1920s.


An evening purse, interwar period

Woman’s toiletries, silver, early 20th century

A sztofka scarf as part of the Pszczyna dress, decorated with embroidery, Łąka, around 1900


Jewellery from Cieszyn (over 400 items) – costume accessories from Cieszyn, Jablunkov and Silesian highlanders dating back to the 17th-18th century up to the 1930s: pins, brooches, clasps, hoczki, breastplates, orpanty, belts worn with Cieszyn dress, buckles, large and small buttons and Jablunkov tiara called ‘gładzenie’. Most of the items are cast in silver, filigree or embossed, made by well-known Cieszyn manufacturers such as Eugeniusz and Fryderyk Haas, Antoni Wybranies, Artur Kopieczek.

Costumes, masks and ritual requisites – among other things, there is a complete set of costumes and masks of the Żywiec-based Dziady i Szlachcice, of Mikołaje from Łąka near Pszczyna and from Istebna in the Silesian Beskid as well as of Niedźwiedniki from the Gliwice region.
Hutsul handicraft – ceramics, woodcarving articles, kilims, bedspreads, embroidered tablecloths, which were brought to Silesia after 1945 by migrants from the East.


A wedding wreath ornately encased in glass. Siemianowice Śląskie, 1922

A cap as part of the Racibórz dress, Sodół near Racibórz, mid-19th century

A weaving mill, Cieszyn Silesia, first half of 20th century

A metal tool for threading the drawstrings of a baby’s sleeping bag, Lvov, around 1880

Furniture and household goods come from the early 19th century to the 1970s – room furnishing (wardrobes, chests of drawers, linen chests) and kitchen equipment, benches, cupboards, fridges, washing machines, butter churns, cradles, prams and clocks. The items deserving particular attention are: a 19th century cupboard with air vents for storing food from the Racibórz region, a 19th-20th century bench with a foldable backrest that can be converted into a bed from Łąka near Pszczyna, a 19th century ‘eternal’ clock called ‘ślązak’ and a large, hand-made storage vessel for grain from the 19th century, carved out of sycamore, from Suszec near Pszczyna.

Household tools and utensils – the most precious items include a wooden plough from the first half of the 19th century from Łąka near Pszczyna, and a crushing mill for poppy-seeds (the Racibórz region) from the same century as well as a smaller salt mill (the Opole region), a 19th century clay bowl for collective meals from Istebna and a silver set for vinegar and oil.

Interior decoration accessories and mementos include all sorts of hand-made, embroidered kitchen kilims, shelf ornaments, bedspreads, tablecloths and crocheted doilies. Other noteworthy articles include a voile double-bed spread decorated with hand-made mesh and embroidery as well as a batiste christening cover from 1929 made in Pszczyna. Among mementos we find wedding myrtle wreaths kept in glass cabinets. There is also a 19th century wreath made of silver, which is kept under a dome-shaped glass cover, plus other anniversary wreaths.
Items illustrating urban culture – men’s and women’s fancy dress, needlework, ball-gowns with accessories, ball tickets from the early 1900s and tortoise-shell hair clips. There is also a 19th-20th century tool for threading the drawstrings of a baby’s sleeping bag.


A wooden cross with the figure of Christ and a grapevine motif carved in wood, Suszec near Pszczyna, 19th century

Angel Mother of God, a sculpture by Jędrzej Wawro, interwar period


Devotional items – paintings on canvas, oil prints, devotional pictures. The most valuable are pictures from the second half of the 19th century: a Hutsul picture on glass from the Kołomyja region depicting St. Barbara, an oil picture on a galvanized sheet ‘Chrystus Mąż Boleściwy’ (Christ in Pain) and an oil print ‘Stopnie życia kobiety’ (Stages of Woman’s Life). Other items worthy of note include: a 19th century oil on canvas ‘Matka Boska Saletyńska’(‘Mother of God from Saletyn’), ‘Wniebowzięcie Najświętszej Maryi Panny’(‘Assumption of Our Lady Mary’), and ‘Matka Boska Szkaplerzna’ (‘Scapular Mother of God’), attractively framed intentional oil prints from the turn of the 19th and 20th century and many other 18th to 20th century pictures produced by various techniques such as lithography, steel engraving and coloured prints. There is also an interesting inter-war sculpture in wood ‘Matka Boska Anielska’(‘Angel Mother of God’) created by Jędrzej Wawro and a 19th century cross with a figure of Christ and grapevine motifs, carved in wood, from Suszec near Pszczyna.


A doll’s carriage from a factory in Poraj near Częstochowa, 1940s’

A wooden sculpture – fantasy animal created by Antoni Toborowicz, Wola Libertowska, 1997

A Devil’s Mask from the Żywiec group of people dressed up for New Year’s celebration as Dziady, made by Józef Kupczak, Żabnica, 1984

Hutsul’s ceramics, the interwar period


Toys include a multi-storey dolls’ house from Chorzów and tin soldiers dating from the beginning of the 20th century, and also toy baby carriages from the inter-war period.

Folk art – pictures on glass made by contemporary artists from the Beskid and Podhale regions as well as sculpture in wood and stone. In particular, two artists are well-represented in the collection: Antoni Toborowicz, a sculptor from Wola Libertowska, and Rozalia Szypułkowa, a glass painter from Czechowice-Dziedzice.

Ethnographic collection of Mieczysław Gładysz (1903 – 1984), professor of the Jagiellonian University, a collector for the Silesian Museum before WWII, includes scoops for żętyca (whey of a ewe’s milk) from the Silesian Beskid and a 9th century wooden sculpture of ‘Christ In Sorrow’, 18th and 19th century gingerbread pans, embroidery patterns and embroidered scarves from Pszczyna and Opole, silver ornaments complementing Cieszyn and Jablonkov dress and even wire wedding rings fastened by little green ribbons from the 19th century.

The Department of Ethnography abounds in paraphernalia characteristic of the cultural, social and spiritual life of the Upper-Silesian and neighbouring regions


A clay pot śmitannik, Wisła, early 20th century

Cieszyn Silesia, first half of 20th century

A wooden poppy-seed crusher, Sudół near Racibórz, 19th century