The Poles in the seventeenth century By Henryk Krasiński 1843

They have over them chiefs, resembling the chiefs of clans, to whom they render an imperfect obedience. These chiefs sometimes wear an eagle’s plume on their hat, and round their necks a cord, decorated with pieces of gold. The ordinary costume of the Mountaineers is composed of a short tunic of grey cloth, confined at the waist by a leathern belt, to which are attached on the left side a sort of hanger and a small axe, which they are so skilful in hurling, that, at the distance of fifty yards, they infallibly destroy a man or a beast. A large collar* falling over their shoulders, a broad-brimmed straw-hat, tight trousers, and common buskins, are the characteristics of their attire.

They have a species of dance amongst them, which a stranger can scarcely behold without shuddering. During its continuance, they whirl their axes around the head of their partners, in the most fearful proximity.


Southwest Vatra 2008

The first annual Southwest Vatra took place on the weekend of June 20th. Harnas Dragoslav gave a presentation on the gear and lore of the highland brigand. We will be adding a transcript of this to the site very soon. Below is the offical logo for the event with original artwork by our own Harnas Dragoslav and also a pic of some of the gear that was part of his presentation.

More Dancing

From: On the High Uplands
Sagas, Songs, Tales and Legends of the Carpathians
by Stanislaw Vincenz
Dancing around Dmytryk
pg 120
They danced the festive dance with axes. The old, grey-headed and shaggy-haired delegates danced, the young, curly-headed delegates danced. And as they danced they sang very ancient songs and carols. Only Dmytryk stood in the midst of them, brandishing his axe and striking up the song:

With three little joys and three little gifts,

To which the youngsters replied so boisterously that the ceilings of the imperial palace shook:

God grant thee happiness and health,

Round Dmytryk they whirled with their axes, they raised and flung up their brass axes during the dance, then danced towards the lords with the shining weapons raised, and the white-stockings involuntarily drew closer to their lord, as though they thought to protect him from the sharp edges. Meanwhile the Emperor was delighted. He watched the dancers with interest; he wondered at those dances, as though he were watching the courtship skirmishes of mountain eagles; he marvelled that not once were any of the heavy axes allowed to fall, that not one hurt another or grazed another.