The Castle Mount, Queen Bona Mount and Mount Grabarka — the symbolism of “lesser known mountains” in the culture of the eastern regions of Poland at the turn of the 20th century
The aim of the article is to examine the significance of “lesser known mountains”, namely Castle Mount, Queen Bona Mount and Mount Grabarka in the cultural consciousness of people living in eastern Poland at the turn of the 20th century (Podlasie and Volhynia). In folk tales the symbolism of the mountains was associated with the extraterrestrial world. Mountains aroused fear; they were regarded as the abodes of evil spirits and places where souls of sinners did their penance and wandered. With time the symbolism of the mountains among people living in eastern Poland began to change. At the turn of the century attempts were made to rationalise the perception of nature as well as to tame it and subordinate it to humans. Examples of such an approach include Zygmunt Gloger’s ethnographic descriptions of e.g. Castle Mount near Drohiczyn. Queen Bona Mount was to be found in Podlasie and Volhynia. A literary illustration by Halina Micińska-Kenar, entitled Pod górą królowej Bony [At the Foot of Queen Bona Mount], explores fear of the unknown — a mountain dominating the town — as well as the path of humans’ spiritual development through overcoming their weaknesses and ascending the peak. Often mountains were also associated with divine locations. An example is Mount Grabarka (Podlasie), from which flows a holy spring, symbolising a holy place and a place of remembrance. An analysis of the symbolism of the mountains in Poland’s eastern region shows what places were and are regarded as mountains as well as why and what significance was attributed to these “smaller mountains” in the cultural consciousness of people living in these regions at the turn of the 20th century.