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Shrines and crosses

by Borek
Tags: crosses, shrines
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Borek
#1
Aug30-09, 05:23 PM
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As you all know Poland is a country where about 95% people declares to be Christians. If you look around practice seems to be not supporting these declarations, but that's not what this post will be about

If you will ever happen to visit Poland, you will see lots of shrines and crosses. They are everywhere - on the crossroads, fields, roadsides, trees and so on. This year we took pictures of about 70 shrines/crosses. Aftear heated debate we selected 20. Some old, some new, some wooden ones, some metal ones, some high, some low, some small, some large... Here they go:

Large shrine, on the crossroads, center of a large village:


Roadside:


Roadside again, different shape:


An old one, freshly refurbished:


Most likely completely new:


We have a picture where there are two shrines and two crosses in one place, two shrines side by side are nothing surprising, especially east of Warsaw, on Podlachia:


Very small one, on the tree trunk:


Similar one, but with a fence:


And a larger one of the same type:


Just a wooden cross:


Three crosses here, but the small white spot right to them is another shrine:


A metal cross:


And another metal cross, this one called Grunwald cross as it was raised in the 400th anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald


Old wooden cross that may not survive long, and a new shrine that already stands in the same place:


Most likely concrete, I have heard some of these are cut from stone:


In and old oak tree trunk, we were told oak was put down by a violent storm last year:


And several others, just to show you how many variants exist:








Edit: important note. This is a mix of pictures taken by Marzena and me. Occasionally we were exchanging cameras, so it is not always possible to say who took the picture.
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Astronuc
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Aug30-09, 05:43 PM
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Nice pictures! I saw some small chapels when I visited Sofiya many years ago.

Once in a while, I see crosses and shrines along the road side in our area and others, but that usually is done to mark the death or deaths of people in automobile accidents.
lisab
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Aug30-09, 05:46 PM
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Very nice, Borek, thanks.

Are the roadside shrines there for any particular reason? Here in the States, roadside shrines often mark the spot of a fatal accident. Often the name of the person who died there is written on a cross.

Evo
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Aug30-09, 05:47 PM
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Shrines and crosses

Wonderful pictures borek! It seems so natural, for some reason, to accept these religious shrines in eastern European countries.
Borek
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Aug30-09, 06:02 PM
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As for localisations: some mark places were something happened, but from what I know some are just put in more or less random places - or perhaps not random, but selected as well visible, or often visited (that will work for crossroads for example). Some are erected to 'guard' the place (that may work for crossroads as well).

I think we have pictures of one or two that marked places of road accidents. These are quite popular as well, I remember two not far from home, but I am sure there is more, I just can't remember their localizations right now.
Astronuc
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Aug30-09, 06:17 PM
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I've been in homes and businesses in the US where I have seen shrines. Some were Catholic, and others were of eastern religions.
Borek
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Aug30-09, 06:20 PM
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I have not mentioned - we have pictures of shrines that stand on the yard, close to road, but behind the fence. But they always face the outside.
Evo
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Aug30-09, 06:48 PM
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Quote Quote by Borek View Post
As for localisations: some mark places were something happened, but from what I know some are just put in more or less random places - or perhaps not random, but selected as well visible, or often visited (that will work for crossroads for example). Some are erected to 'guard' the place (that may work for crossroads as well).

I think we have pictures of one or two that marked places of road accidents. These are quite popular as well, I remember two not far from home, but I am sure there is more, I just can't remember their localizations right now.
Crosses at accident sites seems to be an American thing and not related to shrines and crosses in older countries. They aren't meant to be anything other than a rememberance of the person that crashed there, they aren't meant to have religious significance.
junglebeast
#9
Aug30-09, 07:50 PM
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It seems a shame to see such an otherwise beautiful country scarred by such Kitsch :/
Evo
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Aug30-09, 09:05 PM
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Quote Quote by junglebeast View Post
It seems a shame to see such an otherwise beautiful country scarred by such Kitsch :/
Although I'm not religious, I think such things have a historic relevance and I have great respect for them. Similar to Celtic crosses found in Britain and Wats in Thailand, how can you not respect these as part of the historic culture, whether you believe in old religions or not?
junglebeast
#11
Aug30-09, 09:18 PM
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Quote Quote by Evo View Post
Although I'm not religious, I think such things have a historic relevance and I have great respect for them. Similar to Celtic crosses found in Britain and Wats in Thailand, how can you not respect these as part of the historic culture, whether you believe in old religions or not?
It's not the religious nature that bothers me. I adore many of the artistic byproducts of religion...but Porcelain figures of Jesus, plastic flowers, and the rest of this stuff just looks like litter to me. How can you compare this modern mass produced garbage to laboriously hand crafted churches and other historic artifacts? There is no artistry, and no pride, in this work...it is the exact kind of decorations that you see littered in every trailer park in my home town.
Sorry!
#12
Aug30-09, 09:38 PM
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Quote Quote by Evo View Post
Although I'm not religious, I think such things have a historic relevance and I have great respect for them. Similar to Celtic crosses found in Britain and Wats in Thailand, how can you not respect these as part of the historic culture, whether you believe in old religions or not?
I was about to post just before jungle but he beat me to it. Having taken Art History and being pretty into the arts I can say I respect and admire all the historic religious art. From cathedrals to the qu'ran to tugras to totem poles etc etc.

These though. I wouldn't respect them in the same way... nope.
Evo
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Aug30-09, 10:03 PM
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Quote Quote by junglebeast View Post
It's not the religious nature that bothers me. I adore many of the artistic byproducts of religion...but Porcelain figures of Jesus, plastic flowers, and the rest of this stuff just looks like litter to me. How can you compare this modern mass produced garbage to laboriously hand crafted churches and other historic artifacts? There is no artistry, and no pride, in this work...it is the exact kind of decorations that you see littered in every trailer park in my home town.
There is a distinction between historical sites and monuments and plastic flowers. If we had no way of making these distinctions, then we'd have no historical sites. Learning about a culture also helps us to understand what is acceptable in that culture. Byproducts of religion? What about billboards and street signs and other garbage that litters the landscape? Can you point out instances where religious advertising outstripes commercial advertising?
junglebeast
#14
Aug30-09, 10:52 PM
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Quote Quote by Evo View Post
There is a distinction between historical sites and monuments and plastic flowers. If we had no way of making these distinctions, then we'd have no historical sites.
What point are you trying to make? Clearly these shrines are not historical monuments...nor are they artistic...it is simply modern-day junk that was purchased at a store and arranged into a place to pray...

Learning about a culture also helps us to understand what is acceptable in that culture. Byproducts of religion? What about billboards and street signs and other garbage that litters the landscape? Can you point out instances where religious advertising outstripes commercial advertising?
Again, I have no idea what your point here is.

As for billboards, they don't bother me much for two reasons. First, they are located on the edges of highways which are already ugly places, so there's not really anything to spoil. Second, they are usually designed by graphic artists to attract our attention, and as a result the images can sometimes be humorous, pretty, or offer some visual distraction on a long road trip.

Earlier I said that I respect many artistic byproducts. Like Sorry said, this includes everything from cathedrals, to carved statues, to totem poles. It certainly does not include store-bought junk, even if they build a small "doghouse" around it, or embed it in an upturned bath-tub (as is even more common).
lisab
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Aug30-09, 11:14 PM
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Quote Quote by junglebeast View Post
What point are you trying to make? Clearly these shrines are not historical monuments...nor are they artistic...it is simply modern-day junk that was purchased at a store and arranged into a place to pray...
If it was your child who was killed there, you may feel different.

It's a sad fact that our society (I'm assuming you live in North America) has no way of signalling to the world that you are in a state of mourning. Let me give you an example.

About 7 years ago I had a death in the family. I took time off work...my close coworkers knew about it. But no one else at the plant did, and it led to some awkward explanations of my absence.

A few weeks later, a coworker had a death in his family. He came back to work wearing an armband. He said that in Chinese society, it signifies that he is in mourning. A person is allowed to be in that state for a year. I thought, wow, what a great idea! It avoids awkward conversations.

Here in the States, we have no way of telling the world that we are in mourning. Yet we feel the same feelings as any human, of course. I guess that our society expects us to "get over it" after it quickly after the funeral.

But we can't - people need time to mourn. I see these roadside monuments as an attempt at that...awkward, sure, maybe even "junk"...yet it's a sign that people are trying to work through their emotions without any scaffold provided by our culture.
TheStatutoryApe
#16
Aug30-09, 11:27 PM
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I'm not sure the point of many of these sorts of places is really to be artistic. Nor do I think they are on par with pink flamingos and lawn gnomes.

Perhaps Borek was interested in people would have this sort of reaction, I am unsure, but maybe we could be a bit more polite and respectful and not call what he chose to photograph and share with us "junk" and "garbage".


And thank you Borek. I especially like the tree shrines. That oak stump is rather neat though I find the decorations on it to be a bit garish.
Sorry!
#17
Aug30-09, 11:51 PM
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Quote Quote by TheStatutoryApe View Post
I'm not sure the point of many of these sorts of places is really to be artistic. Nor do I think they are on par with pink flamingos and lawn gnomes.

Perhaps Borek was interested in people would have this sort of reaction, I am unsure, but maybe we could be a bit more polite and respectful and not call what he chose to photograph and share with us "junk" and "garbage".


And thank you Borek. I especially like the tree shrines. That oak stump is rather neat though I find the decorations on it to be a bit garish.
I didn't mean any disrespect to Borek or to these shrines/monuments. Just that I found the way Evo compared them and made them out to be isn't appropriate because they are completely different.
junglebeast
#18
Aug31-09, 12:23 AM
P: 462
lisa,

I could be wrong, but I thought that most of these were not graves -- some of them certainly are..such as the gravestone and the small wooden cross, and these ones do not bother me as they are not covered in streamers and the like. Actually, I find the old wooden cross to be quite tasteful...and a nice photograph as well.

A few weeks later, a coworker had a death in his family. He came back to work wearing an armband. He said that in Chinese society, it signifies that he is in mourning. A person is allowed to be in that state for a year. I thought, wow, what a great idea! It avoids awkward conversations.
It seems that it would promote more awkward conversations...if you did not wear the armband, because the armband is a way of displaying this fact to everyone who sees you and some of them will either ask (out of ignorance) or out of sympathy. If he had not worn the band at all, nobody would be randomly asking about it.

It also does not seem a healthy way to deal with loss to me. People die...yes its sad, but we should not encourage depression in living people as a result. In a society where it is accepted (and perhaps expected.....) for a person to wear this armband, that is going to constantly be a reminder to the person which makes them sad all the time!

While it may be that some people require a period of grief before they can rationalize moving on, I would not wish this excess sadness to be constantly reminded to someone having already experienced a tragic loss. It is only going to give them an excuse to sulk around in a depressive and unproductive state, and that's only making a bad situation worse. Some people probably do not want to be constantly reminded, but they would have to do it just because their relatives expect them to be grieving.


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