The images below depict Christmas celebrations by Gorals, the indigenous highlanders from the Carpathian Mountains in southern Poland. Dressed in traditional leather shoes with lacing, tight trousers with ornamented belts, and mountaineer hats with feathers, they gather joyfully to dance and sing.
This charming livre d’artiste is comprised of six Christmas poems (pastorałki) written by Polish Futurist poet Tytus Czyżewski (1880-1945) between 1919 and 1922. Tadeusz Makowski (1882-1932), a leading Polish artist of his time, designed the cover and produced six full-page woodcuts to accompany each poem. Both artists were living in Paris when this book was commissioned and published in 1925 as an inaugural edition by the Polskie Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Książki (Polish Society of Book Lovers). Czyżewski’s expressive verse and Makowski’s “primitive” woodcuts capture whimsical images from folk tradition and rituals of their native land. Rustic and textured hand-made paper with rough and even edges on which the book was printed also conveys a sense of folksiness.
The present copy is a special issue printed for Staniława Piotra, who was the first president of the Polskie Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Książki. It was acquired by the library in 2013.
This is the last post for 2015. Happy holidays to you and yours from Notre Dame’s Rare Books and Special Collections!
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