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Czesława Samsel

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Czesława Samsel – the greatest man in the Kurpie region

The greatest man in the Kurpie region” – with these words Czesława Kaczyńska, the most noted folk artist of this region and the president of the Association of Kurpie Artists, described Czesława Samsel. Why? Since Czesława is a remarkably open-hearted person. While sharing companionship with her, one may have impression that she can “give everybody the shirt off her back”. There is another reason too. Czesława Samsel is an exceptionally versatile artist. The range of her artistic skills is complete: she kneads ritual bread, tissue paper flowers, palms, kierce and she makes laces. She knits napkins, including ones with hens to Easter baskets, in addition to traditional tablecloths she makes more original ones, e.g. in a fancy colour, giving vent to her imagination and creative inspiration. Despite her age, Czesława has very skilful hands; she kneads ably byśki (ritual bread in several types: cows, fawns, bunnies, lambs), makes kierce with lupine and peas, knits quickly and makes artfully tissue paper flowers. Since 1968 she has been working in the “Kurpianka” Folk and Artistic Handicraft Cooperative in Kadzidło, weaving carpets on looms, and then she started making laces, which in her rendition are masterly, although she has been doing them for “only” 30 years. Now, she cannot stop doing it: “I am so attracted to crocheting that I cannot stop” – she says.

She passes on her skills to grandchildren. She writes about herself – Being an 80-year old woman, I am proud of what I do and I cannot part with my job and travels and I find it a very fascinating pastime. All what she does is accompanied with joy and enthusiasm.

It is difficult to count thousands of her works exhibited, i.a., in Ethnographic Museums in Warsaw and Ostrołęka. Each year, she participates many a time in different displays and talks to the press. She is visited by students who interview her. She talks about her work, life and Kurpie traditions. She participates also in different TV programs, excellently playing a role of an expert at Kurpie folk art. You can read about her in newspapers and on the Internet. Czesława learned handicraft in her family house, mainly from her older sister. She lives in a beautiful place, near the forest where she often goes to pick berries, mushrooms and juniper berries used to make Kurpie psiwo kozicowe (light beer brewed in Masovia).

She participates in ethnographic workshops, displays, bazaars and exhibitions. She runs classes in schools across all country,

Her awards and distinctions include, i.a.: a Special Award of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, a “Pro Masovia” Medal, an Award of the Ostrołęka District Governor, a Medal of Merit to Cepelia and a Badge of Honour for the 65th Anniversary of Cepelia for Merits to Preserve Polish Culture Aquis.

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Zalesie, 07-430 Myszyniec
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