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"Kurpie" magazine




KURPIE - the land and people
KURPIE - the land and people
Publikacja / Aktualizacja: 14.11.2006.


The name of Kurpie defines both the Kurpie region as well as people who live there. The Kurpie region comprises terrains of Green Forest, situated between the Narew River and a former East Prussia. The eastern border of the Kurpie region marks Pisa River, however the western one - the Orzyc River. The Kurpie Forest does not form and did not form in its history a distinguished territorial unit. At present there are three provinces on its terrain: Mazovia, Podlasie and, in a small range, Warmia and Mazury region.

The first settlers on terrains of the Kurpie Forest came only in 16th century. The Kurpie people dealt for a long with forest economy and jobs connected with the forest. They were superb keepers of wild forest bees and hunters. Already in 19th century neighbours as Kurpie defined the inhabitants of the Green Forest. The word "Kurp" (Kurpś) comes from the name of footwear made of plant fibres by themselves and worn by the inhabitants of the Forest. The only inhabitants of the Kurpie Forest preferred to call them "the Forest Inhabitants" (Puszczakami).

The Kurpie people from only beginning of their settlement possessed specific rights. They were neither nobility nor peasants but they governed through own rules and were under the king of Poland authority only.

The Kurpie always took active part in political events of Poland. Already in the period of "Swedish deluge" self-appointed squads that effectively barred roads of Gustaw's Charles troops. Then they took very active part both in November uprising (1831), and January uprising (1870) of 19th century as well as both World Wars as well as resistance movement in Poland during the Second World War. Heroism and patriotism of Kurpie people has found the reflection in poetry and literature. The famous Polish writers and poetess like Henryk Sienkiewicz, Maria Konopnicka, Henryk Syska and others wrote about Kurpie people.

The peripheral location of the Kurpie region in relation to other parts of Poland as well as people living the neighbouring terrains with their strange culture, i. e. the nobility and peasants at Polish side, and Mazurian Protestants in Prussia, and inaccessibility of these forest terrains enabled for the formation by the Kurpie people a rich and unique culture, expressed in dialect, songs, dances, customs, folk art, architecture and buildings.

The main settlements of the Kurpie region are the following villages - Czarnia, Dylewo, Jednorożec, Kadzidło Lipniki, Łyse and Zbójna as well as the towns - Myszyniec and Ostrołęka. The folk events such as "Kurpie Palm Sunday", "Honey harvest" and "Kadzidlańskie Wedding" are well known throughout Poland.
The Kurpie region with its so rich and alive folk culture, located in clean areas called as "Green Lungs of Poland" - has become considering culture, tourism and resting, one of the most attractive areas of Poland and Europe.