I contributed to a print publication called Thank You, Surf from Spain based Lamono magazine. The book is available in Spain and online here. My work sits alongside a lot of other talented folks.
BRIAN BIELMANN CECILIA ALVAREZ- HEVIA CÉSAR ANCELLE HANSEN JACK COLEMAN JEFF DIVINE JEREMY KORESKI JORGE HUNT KARL MACKIE KIM FRANCIS MATT JOHNSON MAURICE REBEIX ROMAIN JUCHEREAU RYAN TATAR SERGIO VILLALBA
The mihrab of the Small Khan Mosque in Bakhchisarai, Ukraine. It was built in the 1500s by the Crimean Tatars. The star at the top was commonly used by Turks throughout the Middle Ages and was known as the “Seal of Sulayman” hundreds of years before its adoption by the Zionist movement…!!
“The  canonization of Pope John Paul II seemed to confirm the strong identification of Polish people with the Catholic Church. Papal flags flew alongside Polish flags, as the canonization was closely followed by the three-day secular celebrations of May 1-3: May Day, Flag Day and Constitution Day. John Paul II continues to be celebrated for his participation in the undermining of the Communist regime as much as for simply being Polish, which tends to mask the fact that the Catholic Polish identity is a recent construct.
The Polish nation was officially recognized in 966 with the baptism of Mieszko I. It is a small imaginative step from there to conclude that, from that time on, Poland has been a Catholic country. In fact, Poland was never very seriously Catholic until the modern era.
According to Tomasz Kalisz, a leading Protestant scholar in Poland [Baptist], this is the first time in the history of Poland that its population and its religion have been almost homogeneous. Any serious student of Polish history will find that, from the beginning, religious affiliation often depended on where in Poland one was standing.
Prior to the 18th-century Partitions of Poland, the religious landscape was complex and scattered. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth counted large numbers of Uniates (Greek Catholics of the Slavonic Rite), Russian Orthodox, Protestants, Jews, and Muslims among its population. There were even pagans, with traditions such as harvest festivals, known in Polish as dożynki, that continue to this day.
The 15th and 16th centuries in Poland were times of great religious and cultural diversity and tolerance. There were laws to ensure religious freedom, in stark contrast with Poland’s neighbours and much of the rest of Europe. Of the many reasons for this tolerance, one of the most significant was the fact that the nobility (szlachta) determined the laws of the country and were themselves a diverse group comprising 20 percent of the population.
Poland’s kings were elected by the nobility and many of those were not Polish – Henry Valois, Poland’s first elected king, and Stanislaus I were French, Wadysław Vasa and Sigismund III were Swedish and Augustus II and III were both Saxons. Also, Stanisław I and Augustus III both came from Protestant families. While the wars of the Reformation raged in the rest of Europe, Poland remained relatively conflict free. There were incidents that marred the peace but, as it is with human memory, the many years of tolerance and religious harmony are forgotten while the few gross tragedies are remembered.
The 17th and 18th centuries saw the rise of intolerance in Poland, but often as a problem within individual faiths. A divide existed among the Orthodox churches (in the mid-1300’s they represented 40 percent of the population). There were constant quarrels over doctrine, with the Russian Orthodox accusing the Greek Orthodox Confession of the Slavonic Rite of being traitors.
The Protestants experienced similar struggles, especially with the rise of Calvinism among the nobility. The Calvinists were plagued by divisions on questions of doctrine and discipline and, at the same time, were a major force behind the 1573 Confederation of Warsaw, which ensured freedom from religious persecution. Jews and Catholics at times fought with individual sects within the confines of their own faiths. Externally, great tragedies did occur between faiths and at times resulted in the loss of life but overall, and compared to what was happening outside the borders of Poland, the country remained more a haven to persecuted religions than a den of discontent.
Poland was so well known as a place of religious freedom that many different religious groups sought protection within its borders over the centuries. Jews fled here from persecution elsewhere on the continent, as did the Czech Brethren, Muslims, Armenians, Protestants from England, and Catholics from Scotland.
The partitions of Poland had the effect of imposing three different official religious identities on the Polish people. Orthodoxy prevailed in the Russian east, the Prussia west was Protestant, and to the south the Habsburg Empire had a decidedly Catholic identity. Strangely, however, this did not spread to the population. Most retained their religious identities regardless of border changes.
It was the 20th century that brought a great shift in the religious identity of the Poles. Several factors transformed the Polish lands from a multicultural, multi-religious conglomeration into a near-homogenous nation. Tensions between religions existed prior to World War II, but it was the overwhelming tragedies that occurred on Polish soil during the war years that savagely diminished diversity.
The huge shift in Poland’s borders following the end of World War II also brought a shift in demographics. In the west, large chunks of Germany were added to Poland’s territory. In the east, Poland lost close to 50 percent of its pre-1939 territories to the Soviet Union. Millions of Poles were uprooted from the east and relocated to the west or elsewhere in central Poland.
The post-war Communist regime, imposed on a largely unwilling population, officially accepted cultural diversity, but in reality a very different story unfolded. The Catholic Church suffered greatly from actions that made affiliation with the Church illegal and closed religious schools and orphanages. The Polish Orthodox Church was placed under the control of the Russian Orthodox. These bullying impositions seem to have spurred Poles to rally round the Catholic Church as a point of common defiance. These reasons, war, resettlement, and Communism, as well as other political and social factors, resulted in a country that became almost universally bound to a Catholic identity. (…)
One of the challenges to all churches is what is being called the secularization of youth. More and more people are falling away from particular denominations and following their own spiritual path or none at all. This is seen in almost all churches, but most evident in the drop in active participation of Catholics in their local parishes. However, this may simply reflect the well-known symbol of the two headed Polish Eagle – with one head looking back to the days when Poles lived among each other peacefully in tolerance and the other to a future Poland that re-embraces ethnic and religious differences.”
Fragments of text by Sydney Sadowski for KrakowPost.
Jewish cheder (elementary school), illustration from “Kłosy” magazine, 1880 - reproduction of a drawing by Tadeusz Rybkowski.
Speech of Baruch Steinberg, the Chief Rabbi and Polish Army officer, who at the beginning of 2nd World War was murdered in Katyń. Since the 18th-century Partitions of Poland Jewish people were actively engaged in the Polish struggle of regaining and later maintaining the independence.
Belarusians in traditional clothes during an annual harvest festival, Rajki. Belarusian minority in Poland is composed of 47,000 people according to the Polish census of 2011.
Celebrations of Transfiguration at the Holy Mount Grabarka - sacred place of the Orthodox Christians in Poland.
Group of Lemkos during the celebrations of May 3rd Constitution Day in Gorlice, 1933. Lemkos had for centuries inhabited the northern slopes of the Carpathian Mountains in Poland (near the Ukrainian border), an area known to the locals as Lemkovyna (Polish: Łemkowszczyzna). They belong to the eastern branch of Christianity, use the Cyrillic alphabet and speak an uncodified East Slavic language described as Lemko language in its own right, or a dialect of the Ukrainian language..
Inscenization of a traditional Lemko wedding during the annual "Jarmark kultur" festival, Sądecczyzna region.
Armenian Catholic Liturgy in one of Cracovian churches. Currently Polish Armenians don’t have their own churches and perform their liturgies inside churches of other denominations.
17th-century Armenian tenement houses on the main square of the town of Zamość. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were about 6,000 Armenians in Poland living mostly in Eastern Galicia (today Western Ukraine), with the main religious and cultural center in Lviv. Polish Armenians were an integral part of the movement to restore Poland’s independence during World War I.
President Ignacy Mościcki welcomed by Tatars during an official visit in Navahrudak (Polish: Nowogródek), nowadays Belarus, 1929. About 5,500 Tatars lived within the interwar boundaries of Poland, and a Tatar cavalry unit had fought for the country’s independence. During Mościcki’s presidency the Tatar religious communities obtained the legal personality.
Tatar newlyweds in front of a traditional yurt (Polish: jurta).
Hi everyone, I know that for many of you it will not be a big surprise, but … I wanted to present the fourth faction from ‘Scythe’ game - Tatars, Crimean Khanate! Their ‘mechs’ are very outdated and still remember the nineteenth century… but their real strength is frightful cavalry and archers using exploding & poisoned arrows! :) This faction is full of mysticism, exotics and faith in supernatural powers. I hope you like them!
Kazan Tatars, a Turkic people who are the second largest nationality in Russia, numbering more than six million people. They feel they have no future in Putin’s Russian, especially given what happened with the Crimean Tatars, their fellow Turkic people. They argue that Tatarstan must leave Russia in order for the Tatars to preserve their nation, language and culture.
A Tartar messenger of the Russian forces in Crimea. Although some served with the Russians, the Tartar population of the Crimea had little love for their Russian rulers. As such, many viewed the arrival of the coalition forces to be their salvation. Some actively assisted them, either materially or through guerrilla raiding, while many stood by cautiously, afraid to expose themselves to possible reprisals. During the war, thousands emigrated to Ottoman lands.