Zalipie – The Painted Village in Poland
Zalipie is an ancient village in southeastern Poland,68 km east of the regional capital Kraków, Known lovingly as “The Painted Village”(Pol.“Malowana Wieś”).The entire village looks pretty in full of colors.
Tradition of painting the walls has been going on here at least for over a century.This custom of decorating houses originated at the end of the 19th century when old-fashioned furnaces were replaced with new furnaces with chimneys. In order to cover blackened walls, women and girls tried to brighten the interior of their residence by decorating the walls with brightly colored spots made of lime. Later these round spots were shaped into simple flowers and finally they evolved into the detailed flower bouquets. The cover-ups are no longer necessary with modern kitchens and better ventilation, but the Zalipie folk still hold on to their tradition.
In older times women didn’t have professionally made equipment, they manufactured the brushes themselves by using hair from the tails of their cows.The materials used were most available like brown clay, soot, and lime. They used to decorate various floral patterns inspired by nature and/with vibrant colors. Over time, the patterns have become more attractive and sophisticated.
In the story of Zalipie’s one woman in particular- Felicji Curylowej (1904 – 1974) is special. She decorated every surface of her three-bedroomed cottage. After her death the Cepelia Foundation – Poland’s folk art preservation and promotion organization, bought her property and in 1978 transferred it to the care of the Tarnów Regional Museum, the beautiful house then turned into a museum.
Local talented artists are not limited to home wall paintings. Hand painted local barns, stables, hutches, wells, fences,chicken coups, bins, dog kennels, wells, water buckets and bridges can be seen. Zalipie women paint their homes with a range of vibrant colors and floral patterns. They also create embroidered and painted furniture coverings, ornamented table clothes, aprons, and glass etc.
Today, Zalipie folk have an annual competition during the feast to celebrate their age-old tradition. Local painters, mostly women, compete by creating attractive floral arrangements on the walls of houses, and also touching up patterns from previous years.