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Poland

 

Geography & Topography

Capital: Warsaw; 2,200,000

Area: 312,685 km²

Population: 38,501,000

Language: Polish

Religion: Roman Catholic

Currency: Zloty

History

Poland, officially the Republic of Poland is a country in central Europe, bordered by Germany to the West; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the South; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the East; and the Baltic Sea to the North.

The culture of Poland is closely connected with its intricate 1000 year history. Its unique character developed as a result of its geography at the convergence of various European regions. The people of Poland have traditionally been seen as hospitable to artists from abroad and eager to follow cultural and artistic trends popular in other countries. In the 19th and 20th centuries the Polish focus on cultural advancement often took precedence over political and economic activity. These factors have contributed to the versatile nature of Polish art, with all its intricate details. Today, Poland is a highly developed country; however, its rich heritage and tradition remains.

Performing Arts

 

Music

The origin of Polish music can be traced as far back as the 13th century, from which manuscripts have been found in Stary Sącz, containing polyphonic compositions related to the Parisian Notre Dame School. Polish folk music was collected in the 19th century by Oskar Kolberg, as part of a wave of Polish national revival. With the coming of the world wars and then the Communist state, folk traditions were oppressed or subsumed into state-approved folk ensembles. The most famous of the state ensembles are Mazowsze and Śląsk, both of which still perform. Though these bands had a regional touch to their output, the overall sound was a homogenized mixture of Polish styles.

The most recognisable instruments in traditional Polish music are:

Koza, Polish bagpipes

Koza: A Koza is a Polish bagpipe. The Polish pipes are more related in appearance to some old German pipes. It uses a large goatskin bag (hair out) and a single reed chanter, cylindrical bore and deep pitch, with a large horn and brass bell at the end. The bass drone typically has the same bell. It is usually bellows-blown and produces a mellow, low pitch. A carved goatshead stock similar to the duda is common. The single reeds are often made of a cane blade lapped onto copper tubing.

Suka, Polish fiddle

 

 

Suka:The Suka, like the Gadulka this is played vertically, on the knee or hanging from a strap, and the strings are stopped at the side with the fingernails. The body of the instrument is very similar to the modern violin, but the neck is very wide, and the pegbox is crude. This is thought to be the “missing link” between the upside-down or “knee chordophone” instruments, and the modern violin.

 

 

 

Dance

Examples of traditional Polish dances are:

Mazurka

Mazurka: A lively three-beat form that accompanies a vibrant, improvisational dance, the mazurka comes from the Mazowsze region in east-central Poland.

Krakowiak

Krakowiak:The krakowiak, a duple-time galloping dance, is the national dance of Poland, and is generally performed in traditional Polish garb, with women in flowery skirts and aprons and men in embroidered vests and square hats.

 

 

 

 

Some interesting facts:

  • The most popular name for a dog in Poland is Burek (meaning a brownish-grey colour).
  • Poland is the the ninth biggest country in Europe and it shares frontiers with seven countries: Russia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Germany.
  • The national symbol of Poland is the White tailed Eagle.

 

Polish Community in Australia:

More information on the Polish community: