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Elżbieta Prusaczyk

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Elżbieta Prusaczyk – the power of Kurpian design

Elżbieta Prusaczyk left her native Kaszuby and came to Tatary after her husband. And stayed there for her lifetime. Today, after 30 years of this Kurpian ‘internship’, she feels as though she were born here. Such is the power of the Kurpian people and their identity that she’s been rooted into this soil and started making Kurpian art. And she’s very good at it. It was not by accident, however, for she weaved and spun back in Kaszuby, in her grandmother’s house. At first she treated it as an extra job which, however, she enjoyed. She observed the craftpeople in her husband’s family, particularly his cousin, Halina Pajka, a well-known and widely appreciated artist. Thanks to her manual skills, Elżbieta quickly cottoned on to the Kurpian regional art.

She can do everything, just as a Kurpian woman should: flowers, bouquets, Christmas tree decorations, Easter eggs, kierce (peas and bean constructions), byśki (cookies in the shape of cattle). She also took up decoupage in which, interestingly enough, she uses Kurpian papercuttings. Besides, she is an excellent housemaker and a wonderful heartfelt woman. As a housewife, she bakes Kurpian fafernuchy (spieced carrot cakes), bread, preserves mushrooms and cranberries, makes hams, and prepares regional dishes such as rejbak, for both her family and guests visiting her agrotouristic household in a real Kurpian cottage.

When life, or – in fact – love brought her to Tatary, she sometimes heard classical accusations that she was not ‘from here’. Nevertheless, her example shows the enormous power of the Kurpian design which can overtake a newcomer so much that they become Kurpian. Elzbieta fell in love with this region. She even has her own traditional dress and passes her skills on to her three lovely granddaughters.

Currently, she co-operates with cultural and ethnographic centres, primary and middle schools, takes part in various workshops and meetings, and shares her broad knowledge with younger generations. She greatly enjoys everything she does. She runs handicraft and cooking workshops for the guests of her household and is visited by schoolchildren who learn about the Kurpian design and cuisine in a real countryside scenery. Elżbieta’s dream is to set up an ‘Educational Farmstead’ in her guesthouse. This, however, is still a dream.

In 2014 she received the ‘Pro Mazovia’ medal from the Marshal of the Mazovian Voivodeship, and in 2015, at the occasion of the 50 years of Cepelia, she was given the medal as a tribute for the preservation of the Polish culture heritage. She is a member of the Folk Artist Association (Stowarzyszenie Twórców Ludowych).