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The Mountain Spirit

The Mountain Spirit of Karkonosze. The Germans associate this figure with Rübezahl Germany, the Czech - with Mr. Jan or Krakonos, and the Poles - with Liczyrzepa, Rzepiór or Rzepolicz. According to the most famous of the many legends, long ago he fell in love with the comely daughter of Swidnica prince and took her to his castle in Karkonosze. The princess, in order to lull his vigilance, told him to count the turnips in the field, which allowed her to escape the valley to her beloved fiancé. Since then, the Spirit of the Karkonosze Mountains became derogatorily named Liczyrzepa (from the word 'rzepa', which means 'turnip'). Even today, when thunder strikes in the mountains the old people say it is Liczyrzepa grieving the loss of his loved one.

Over the years, it had become a creative inspiration for writers, painters and sculptors, a popular symbol of the Karkonosze. His oldest graphic representation comes from the Karkonosze maps by the Wroclaw cartographer Martin Helwig from 1561. The best known image is the painting of the Karkonosze Spirit by Moritz von Schwind, dating back to around 1845; the picture is currently in Schack Gallery, Munich.

The Karkonosze Mountain Spirit has become an art inspiration for Hermann von Hendrich (born in Heringen in 1854 - died in Szklarska Poreba in 1931). This artist was fascinated by the works of Richard Wagner, and made paintings alluding to the old-Germanic legends and myths. He arrived to Szklarska Poreba in 1902, where the writer and philosopher Bruno Wille created "Sagenhalle" - "Hall of the fairy tales." The building, designed by the Berlin architect Paul Engler was built in 1903, and alluded in its interior to the symbolism of Old-Germanic legends. It was a place of an exhibition cycle of eight large paintings devoted to the Mountain Spirit of Karkonosze, whom Hermann von Hendrich portrayed as the personification of natural forces. These were landscape and figural scenes with a taste of fairytale, fabulously decorated in Art Nouveau style of painting. For many years, "Sagenhalle" - "the Hall of Fairy Tales" has been a place frequented by tourists.

"The Hall of fairy tales" was destroyed in the 1960s - and the paintings were lost. There is currently a Training and Recreation Center for the University of Technology, "Joy" (Middle Szklarska Poreba, 5 Muzealna St.).

Text - Dr. Przemyslaw Wiater


Legends of the Mountain Spirit, known to three nations - Czechs, Germans and Poles, which were passed down in folk tales from generation to generation, have been repeatedly the subject of the work of the Karkonosze artists. However, the first propagators of the myth of Rzepiór, we should consider the Walloons. Not only had they spread the story of a menacing Master of the Karkonosze, but also created new legends of their own, which were worthy of the Grimm Brothers. The fear of the lurking dangers in the inaccessible mountains and the awe of the Mountain Spirit prevented the locals from searching for the treasures of the earth like the Walloon settlers. From the time of the original, rather demonic images of Rzepiór, this character turns into an old man, roaming the mountains, with a long, gray beard and an inherent attribute - a powerful stick. The Mountain Spirit, serves as a guardian of nature, who plays sophisticated in their consequences tricks on those who do not show the nature due respect.

"The Vienna manuscript", the 15th century (?)

"The tunnels in the Black Mountain were extremely deep, so that they had to enter even before the first ringing of bells and after the vespers any work was impossible, and had to be called off on account of the ghosts, particularly Riebenzahla. Hence the good people there soon hung a crucifix in the tunnels".

"The Chronicle of the Town of Trutnov" by Simon Hűttel, 1576

Year of our Lord 1576, the 29th day of November, on Thursday, before the holy Andrew, at night, when the clock struck half to the second hour, the water from the floodgates broke off the hospital bridge before the lower gate. And the big box, as long as three lengths of an outstretched hand and full of stones, fell over completely and has been flushed down the Upa River, together with the stones that remained in it, so for more than two dozen yards that none of those who saw it could believe. With such a terrifying noise has the water struck the lower bridge on the houses, as to reach the tables and benches. It has also torn away a lot of fences in the gardens and done a great many other damages. Imperial foresters and the sorts say that it was Rűbenzagel hitting the floodgates and drowning the man there".

"The Legends of the Karkonosze and the surrounding area" Urszula and Aleksander Wiącek

Of the Glass Lady of the Murano island

Authors: Urszula and Aleksander Wiącek

In 1241, following the great battle with the Mongols at Dobre Pole near Legnica, great poverty prevailed in Lower Silesia. While many villagers returned to their burned huts, but had found neither tools for tillage in the burned lands, nor hay for cattle, nor grain for sowing. Then there came a plenty of strangers on the road, who looked around with mad eyes, spoke unintelligible words and pulled their hands for alms. Among them there was a blind man, who played the gusle beautifully and sang pious songs in a loud voice. Everyone had called him the Fortune-teller, because his words concealed a prophecy:

"God created the sun and the stars in the sky
But not for you
'Cause, by the will of God and the Holy Spirit
He will take all from the world of the Grim Reaper
Will crawl from the earth, will arrive on wings
Will take you and your children..."

Fear fell on people. They began to whisper about the extermination of mankind. The prophecy proved to be true quite soon. When the May sun began warming and drying the roads after the melting of spring, a strange weakness came and people began to die. It probably came out of the unburied corpses, which were littering the roads and in the midst of burned huts by the hundreds after the turmoil of the war, and was spread by the flies.

Of the tragic death of Rusalka and Kamienczyk

Authors Urszula and Aleksander Wiącek

A long time ago, the Walloons came into Karkonosze in search of gold from the distant Franconian countries. They found numerous precious and semi-precious stones here. They have given example to others, who followed suit. Some of them earned a pretty good fortune gathering colorful beads; they lived in palaces and a rich life they had. The residents of the villages and settlements in the foothills were called the Stoners.

At that time there lived in Szklarska Poreba a man named Bronisz. He worked hard as a lumberjack to keep up his mother and himself. From spring until the first snows, he was cutting out in sweat trees in the forest, and since they lived modestly with his mother, they did not suffer poverty, although they hadn't known prosperity as well. One day Bronisz's mother fell ill. The son was forced to stay home and take care for her. He did it with love and very carefully, but when pressed in poverty over time, when they had nothing left to eat, he had decided to go to the mountains and look for precious stones that rich people were so eager on buying. He took a few slices of bread, a piece of cheese, a pickaxe, and a shovel, and went into the Mountains before dawn. Staring at the ground before him, he walked through meadows, forests and mountain wilderness. He walked trough rushing streams, watching their shores washed, searching the rock cracks and subsidence, all stone slopes. This way, he reached the Łabski Peak, then through its southern slope to an almost flat meadow, where the source of the river Elbe sprung. Here he began to dig in the ground.