The Persistence and Interaction of Multi-Ethnic Settlement Remnants in The Cultural Landscape

Leszek Kozłowski

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/v10089-011-0013-x

Abstract


The paper deals with remnants of multi-ethnic settlement: their form, interaction and persistence. In the past, the Podlasie region, situated in northeastern Poland, was an area of multi-ethnic settlement. The interaction of cultures brought the emergence of a new, borderland culture. As the years have passed, the memory of the sources of regional and local traditions has disappeared. Elements of ethnic and religious traditions have spread and survived in the material structures of the rural landscape.

The most significant traces of cultural interactions and at the same time the remnants of past landscape are high roadside wooden crosses with an additional small iron cross on their top, decorated with the crescent moon and sunbeams. The cross with half-moon has its beginnings in old Christian symbolism, regional history and tradition. The crescent was always accompanied by sunbeams and they meant sun and moon, day and night, Christ and Our Lady. Its material durability appears to be greater than the collective memory of the locals.

The roadside wooden crosses embellished with iron crescent cross are an interesting part of regional heritage. The symbol of the crescent was common here for all Christian inhabitants and Tatars, unifying all Podlasie people. This uniting symbol is the most valuable remnant of the interaction of multi-ethnic settlement in the cultural landscape of the Podlasie. These days, the 300 years of tradition falls into oblivion, but regional cultural heritage can be saved through tourism-related product and marketing. In peripheral, economically neglected areas like the study case, the remnants may become an impetus to develop the local economy through recreation and tourism. Furthermore, making new tourism products based on natural and cultural values can be a good opportunity to restore precious elements of the historical landscape.


Keywords


Poland; Podlasie; cultural landscape; multi-ethnic settlement; settlement remnants

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