2006 | 3 | 85-106
Article title

Late Romanesque Ceramic Pavement from the Wawel Cathedral in Cracow

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The author describes excavation of the Romanesque floor in the Wawel Cathedral. The article contains information about the floor's structure. A fragment of the Romanesque floor was found in the Wawel Cathedral between 1937 and 1938 by Adolf Szyszko-Bohusz. In 1997 a fragment of the pavement made up of Romanesque tiles was also found in the crypt under the Chapel of Bishop Zabrzydowski. In Cracow and its environs identical floors have been excavated in the churches of St. Mary Magdalene, the Holy Trinity, St. Wenceslas (Mogila) and SS Peter and Paul the Apostles (Tyniec). Ceramic tiles similar in type to those in Cracow have been found in Sandomierz, Inowlódz and also at Strzelno and Kruszwica. The Cathedral floor consisted of square panels, each containing a spatial composition of 36 tiles of one or several types. The panels were laid obliquely to the walls of the cathedral aisles. Most of them were square, those triangular or rectangular in form being less frequent. The tiles were made by the relief and inlay techniques. Thus far 29 of ornamental tiles have been identified. They are decorated with geometrical-vegetal, geometrical, and vegetal patterns. They were usually coated with lead glaze, those with opaque glaze being less frequent. The floor was laid around 1250 and was probably the first ceramic floor in the cathedral. In all likelihood it survived until 1320, when Bishop Nanker set about building the Gothic cathedral. Ceramic floors of the Wawel type were popular in the second half of the 13th century, their production being initiated by Cistercian and Dominican monasteries. According to the view that has predominted in the literature until now, the tiles are of Dominican origin. However, it cannot be excluded that there may have been several monastery workshops in Cracow proper. This is indicated by the differences between the tiles coming from different objects as regards the technique of production and kinds of ornament and by varieties of particular moulds.
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  • M. Szewczyk-Wojtasiewicz, Zamek Królewski na Wawelu - Panstwowe Zbiory Sztuki na Wawelu, Wawel 5, 31-001 Kraków, Poland
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