Revue Pamiatky a múzeá - Summary 2/2007
The main altar of the Roman Catholic Church in Matejovce, devoted to the Hungarian (Magyar) saints, St. Stephen The King and St. Imrich, is one of the more notable medieval artworks from 15th century Slovakia. The art historians of Poland, Hungary and Slovakia have been studying it for over a century, but it was during the 1970s and 1980s, when it attracted major interest as the principal work of the anonymous painter recognised as the Master of the Matejovce Altar. By now experts failed to unite in their opinion on the location of his art workshop. The definitive answer to several disputable issues could only be found through a restoration of the main Matejovce altar, whose real image has until recently been distorted by a large modification from the end of the 19th century.
In 2006 the parish administrator decided to have the monument restored. The restoration process is not yet finished. Nevertheless, the results of the research have already rectified the hitherto known facts. The Matejovce altar is situated in the presbytery of a two-nave church. Its history is closely connected to the history of the municipality, which is now in the district of Poprad. The church is mentioned in the first written evidence of Matejovce from 1287. At the start of the 14th century it was a parish church, because Matejovce had been registered in 1317 in the renewed (clergy) privilege of the Spiš Saxons under the German name of Matsdorf. When the main altar was created in the 15th century, the patrocinium of St. Stephen and St. Imrich had already existed.
A pseudo-gothic retable, with an original gothic triptych preserved in the centre (264 cm by 352 cm), forms the Matejovce altar’s base. The middle part of the triptych consists of a monumental table, where a pair of patrons is painted in a composition known as sacra conversatione. The depiction of both saints is unique in preserved medieval art because it misses the usual third figure not only in the upper, repainted layer, but also in the original concept. The innovative composition and untraditional iconography depiction used in picturing the Hungarian monarchs points out the fact that the painter knew the old chronicles well. The concept of the altar originated from an educated background with a quality library to hand – in the case of Matejovce, the Carthusian Monastery in Červený Kláštor and Spišská Kapitula come into chief consideration.
Ivan Chalupecký – Marián Soják – Anton Karabinoš
Research in the Church of the Holy Spirit in Žehra
Archaeological researches in the municipality of Žehra point to intensive
settlement from primeval times. The first written record about Žehra comes from
1245, when the Spiš Bishop granted this subjective municipality’s proprietor,
the noble family of Sigray, the right to build there a church devoted to the
Holy Spirit. It appears, the construction started in Romanesque style. Then, for
inexplicable reasons it was suspended and the church was finished in 1275. It is
a mediocre early-gothic building, originally with one-nave and enclosed with a
square presbytery. Around 1380 they rebuilt it to a central two-nave
construction. A northern sacristy was added to the church in the 18th century.
The Church of the Holy Spirit rises above Žehra, in the centre of the original brick-fenced cemetery. It is listed as number 827 in the Central List of Slovakia’s Monument Fund. It is also registered on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. In 2006, the Archaeological Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences held a research study inside the church, part of which involved monitoring the church’s construction development and studying the gravestone epitaphs. The remains of material culture include splinters from the 13th to 19th centuries, a glass windowpane, brick paving, hand-wrought iron nails, a bell’s heart and two coins. The finding of a glass bottle preserving a scrolled paper from 1884 is the oldest written evidence of an intended historic-archaeological research in a church interior on Slovakian territory.
Bojná – a new phenomenon in Slovak history
More than a half-century of ongoing systematic archaeological research in the region of western Slovakia (Nitra, Bratislava, Devín, Pobedim, Ducové) has brought substantial information about the beginnings of our national history and the first state forms – the Principality of Nitra and Great Moravia. Less attention was devoted to other regions. The research of the central Ponitrie area suggested that these densely populated regions were intricately divided socially as well as in the position of power during the 8th and 9th centuries, and of more political and economic significance than it has been assumed so far. Burial mounds of noteworthy members of the social elite were found there in the past, however, what were missing were convincing documents relating to the existence of rich centres, comparable with the famous Moravian or Panonian localities. That is why the findings in Bojná from the Považský Inovec hills are of such a great importance.
This region has been a communication place between the fertile basins of the rivers Váh and Nitra. The fortifications in the mountains had been a vital part of the settlement dating from the Bronze Age. The Celts also built their forts there, leaving behind several noteworthy remains from the 2nd and 1st centuries BC. The German Kvads gradually settled on both sides of the hills in the first half of the 1st millennium AD. The traces mapping their presence there by the end of the 2nd century (Marhát, Hradisko) tell us about their battles with the Romans.
The approximately 14-hectare hill-fort of Bojná I – Valy originated around the beginning of the 9th century. It was unusually situated on a hill’s edge. One of the roads to the Považie region led through a pair of gates. Probes and geophysical tests made on a large inner hill-fort area identified a hill-fort with a double line of ditches and mounds on the better accessible northern and eastern parts. The excess of weapons on both of these walls proves they were predominantly used for a military purpose. The mass findings included bronze, gilded and silver-coated clothing parts, jewellery and skids, which bear the marks of the Karolín style. Two fragments of cast bronze bells and a whole bell with a triple mounting lug, 21.5 cm in height, were also found. The latter is one of the oldest cast exemplars in Europe dated to the 8th-9th century. Especially significant is the set of embossed gilded plaques of thin copper. The iconographic interpretation of the pictured figures will necessitate lengthy study and protracted discussions among art historians.
The gothic windowpane in Pezinok-Myslenice
When working on the publication, Windowpanes in Slovakia, published by the Monument Board of the Slovak Republic with the Slovart print house at the end of 2006, nobody expected any large surprises. In the main, the observed artefacts came from the second half of the 19th century with the majority from the 20th century, and apart from the renowned artists, such as F. Jobst and V. Hložník, were mostly of an average artistic quality. From the gothic period, which is largely represented in several European countries (France, Germany), only a minimum number of windowpanes were preserved in Slovakia. Many perished as a result of natural catastrophes and the walling-in of windows during church fortifications, not to mention church rebuilding, the natural wearing of the windowpanes and the level of their maintenance, as well as bombing and the plundering of war.
There are two examples of preserved gothic
windowpane work in Slovakia – the remains of a glazing with painted floral décor
and a hint of vimperg preserved in situ at the Church of St. Anton The Hermit in
Červený Kláštor dated to the end of the 14th, or the end of the 15th and the
beginning of the 16th century, and the Bardejov town’s coat of arms, originally
situated in the Church of St. Egidius but now found in the collections of the
Šariš Museum in Bardejov, which dates to the second half of the 15th century and
which was the only preserved example when the window panels were changed at the
end of the 19th century.
When verifying the written sources from the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, which considered the windowpane at the Church of St. Sigmund in Pezinok-Myslenice to be one of the oldest remaining examples of glass painting, it was revealed that the upper part of the gothic lancet window on the eastern wall of the northern nave was filled with a windowpane dating approximately to the 14th century. It is built of tiny segments framed with a thick lead grid. A floral décor with the motifs of a wild rose, vine leaf and bunch of grapes, embellishes the four-leaved carved work. The mentioned motifs have appeared in images since the beginning of Christian art up to this day. The Myslenice windowpane exceeds the two earlier mentioned gothic monuments in Slovakia in the range of the preserved area as well as in having its iconography on a par with the international gothic style found in Europe.
Zuzana Ševčíková – Tomáš Janura
In the municipality of Horovce, near Púchov, stands a formidable construction with two corner window bays on its first floor and two modern balconies on its northern and southern facades. A large natural park and neglected fruit garden adjoin the building. The area also houses a group of economic buildings. A conservationist research which took place at the end of 2005 and the beginning of 2006 brought new facts to light concerning the manor house’s architectural development, and also included an archive-historic study.
In the first half of the 14th century, the district administrator Matthew Csák III of Trenčín invited Moravian, Czech and Polish colonisers to settle down in Horovce. The Hungarian nobleman owned 50 castles. One of them, the Trenčín castle, was a largely exposed locality on the Hungarian border with the Czech Kingdom.
The three-part disposition of the Horovce edifice, as well as the parameters and character of the stone walling demonstrate that it was no ordinary medieval fort on Slovakian territory. Similar typology was mainly to be found at the 14th and 15th century castles in the Czech Kingdom - Maří, Hořice, Nový Šumburk and Kopisty u Mostu. The imposing parameters of the middle halls (23.32 m by 7.91 m) on the individual floors are more related to complex castles than forts at peripheries.
The tradition of the three-part tower (block) construction with a middle hall goes back to the 15th century. The new proprietors, the Madocsányi dynasty, largely renovated the fort around 1594, keeping the three-part division as well as the halls on the individual floors. The 1725 fire largely damaged the construction. In the 18th century it was renewed in the empire style; fortified constructions, ditches and mounds were put down and an English park was established. After 1805 the manor house received a classicist conception. The state turned it into a children’s sanatorium after 1918, rebuilding it in a functionalist style in 1936.
Sacral architecture in the High Tatras
Hand in hand with the gradual development of the Tatra settlements and an increasing number of visitors, came the necessity to build sacral objects, which would satisfy religious needs. The seasonal character of the trips and the number, structure and financial potential of the visitors, were the decisive factors in determining the scope and scale of the sacral architecture. That is why the architecture is mainly of a smaller character and concentrated into larger settlements, such as Starý and Nový Smokovec, Tatranská Lomnica, Tatranská Kotlina and Štrbské Pleso.
The Roman Catholic chapels and churches use a large scope of construction materials and structures, ranging from wooden – rustic through stud to brick walls, whereas all evangelical churches are brick constructions. The style of the Tatras’ sacral architecture mainly represented by the rusticated neo-Roman work of Gedeon Majunke (1854 – 1921) is of the historic period that overlaps to the end of the 1930s.
Art Nouveau style can be found in the evangelical church of Augsburg confession in Tatranská Kotlina (1905 – 1906) by Pavol Lipták. Modern style was used on the brick variant of non-pursued church design at Štrbské Pleso (1937) by Dušan S. Jurkovič, and the style’s later phase is to be found on designs, extensions and renovations of the Roman Catholic churches in Tatranská Lomnica and Štrbské Pleso (1969) by Ján Šprlák-Uličný. The chapel in the symbolic cemetery near the Poprad mountain lake, by Robert Vosyka from 1936, has a vernacular basis. The Church of St. Peter and Pavol built between 1997 and 2002 in Nový Smokovec according to Pavol Repka’s project is the last sacral construction as yet erected in the High Tatras.
Ivana Kvetánová – Pavol Višňovský
Jupiter Dolichenus or Mars?
The bronze sculpture of a man resembling a Roman soldier, which is deposited in the Hlohovec Homeland museum, was long ago automatically assigned to Jupiter Dolichenus – the Roman god with Syrian roots. However, it is time now to revaluate this identification, as it has been the only bronze sculpture in Slovakia considered to be Jupiter Dolichenus.
Only a fragment of cast bronze with silver and
copper incrustation has been preserved. The sculpture depicts a young man clad
in Roman armour with a decorated shield. Better interpretation of the sculpture
is impossible as only a torso of the original work was preserved without any
specific attributes. The man wears a helmet whose facial part (the mask) or the
side forms, the so-called bucullae, cover most of the face. This type of short
equestrian helmet was used at the end of the 2nd and beginning of the 3rd
century, which defines the sculpture’s dating.
Jupiter Dolichenus is often pictured as a god standing on a bull. The animal was either not preserved or not portrayed at all. The bearded face lends the god a dignified and stern expression. A Phrygian cap, or tiara, usually covers his head. Jupiter Dolichenus pictured with a helmet is less common. The helmet is rather the attribute of Mars – the Roman god of war, which the sculpture reminds us of with the war armour. Mars takes several forms. He can be recognised thanks to his typical Corinthian helmet. He can be naked or clad in Roman war clothes. He is portrayed with and without a beard. The question whether the sculpture depicts Jupiter Dolichenus or Mars remains open.
Svätý Anton – the building and technical monuments
The municipality of Svätý Anton is part of that area which was entered onto the List of World Cultural and Natural Heritage UNESCO in 1993 under the title “Banská Štiavnica and the Technical Monuments in its Vicinity”. The first written evidence about the municipality comes from 1266. The inhabitants made a living by working in the woods and fields, raising cattle and mining silver and gold in the town’s prosperous times. The municipality lacked independence. Noble families traded it or received it as a gift along with its inhabitants throughout the course of history. The Kohárys and Coburgs were among the most noteworthy.
The stamping finishing mills connected Svätý Anton with the intensive mining in the surrounding areas. This technology was aimed at separating the clean ore and processing it to the required lumpiness. The stamping mills, which relied on water energy to run, were first used in the Banská Štiavnica ore field in the 17th century. During the 18th century, after modernisation and construction of water dams, new stamping mills were built in the valleys, gradually one above the other, to guarantee the required fall of water. The operation of the stamping mills became obsolete in the first half of the 20th century and gradually vanished. The archives list six mining stamping mills in the Svätý Anton valley. Two of them – unpreserved, or rebuilt to serve a different purpose – functioned in the territory of the municipality. One can read about their placement on the map from 1871. Among the mining works preserved at the municipality are two mining tunnels - Juraj and František - situated in its lower part. Today it is the monumental, baroque-classicist manor house that dominates the municipality. It used to be a family residence of the Kohárys, later the Coburgs. Initially a two-wing construction, it was rebuilt between 1744 and 1751 into a four-wing structure with an inner courtyard and baroque fountain in its centre, according to the project of Viennese architect Jan Entzenhofer. The adjacent park combines French and English gardens with a forest park. Today the manor house houses a museum, which along with the rich artistic collections and original equipment also features an interesting hunter’s exposition.
The fujara is not only a unique traditional musical instrument, but also part of the Slovak national culture and its social awareness. One needs to seek its origin in medieval music culture and the original thinking of the people of one of the Slovak regions. The Fujara and its music were included in the UNESCO list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005.
Experts on musical instruments as well as ethnologists and music historians are busy trying to find out more about the fujara origins. This pipe with two front and one back finger holes could have been brought to Slovakia by mercenary armies from Western Europe that spent winter in the Podpoľanie region waiting for the offensive against the Turks. The depictions of the fujara on painted shepherd’s chalets in the collections of the Banská Štiavnica Mining Museum suggest that the fujara could have developed from the bass several-holed baroque pipe by leaving out some of the unnecessary, little used holes.
Other parts of traditional culture assume that the fujara did not develop from one but several musical instruments based on their characteristic features, construction, material, manufacturing technology and in particular the way in which they were used in traditional music culture. Another source of information about the fujara‘s origin is the register of traditional folk songs. The fujara is mentioned in the Národné spievanky collection by Ján Kollár and the later collections of Béla Bartók (he noted down a fujara player from Gemer in 1906). The older national literature talks about the fujara originating in the area of today’s Romania (the former Walachia Kingdom). This is interesting with regard to the origin and manner of the Podpoľanie population’s settlement during the Walachia colonisation. Theories also abide about the fujara autochthony when it comes to the pipe music culture of that region. What is important is that the fujara has been part of traditional folk culture for almost 400 years.
Factual argumentation and precise documentation helped support the proposal to enter the fujara on to the UNESCO list, which was prepared by the renowned expert on Slovak traditional musical instruments and folk music, Professor Oskár Elschek. He processed a more than 400-page script about the fujara and supported it with four film documentaries. The society took for granted the registration of the fujara on to the UNESCO list of the intangible heritage of humanity, which only goes to prove the Slovaks have considered the fujara and its music to be the symbol of Slovakia, the slovakism, the homeland, for a long time. It is not a coincidence that many countrymen take it away as a memory of the country of their ancestors, that visitors to Slovakia buy it as a souvenir and that Slovakia’s president often makes it an official present.
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