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  Polskie Araby


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Siała Baba mak, nie wiedziała jak, a Dziad wiedział, nie powiedział, a to...
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Drinkers of the Wind
Author : Tomasz Zbigniew Zapert | 2007-06-01 | Drukuj
Six years ago, the vast territories near Rzeszów became home to the pure-bred Arabian horse stud under the name of Kielnarowa, property of Mr. Czesław Witko. If only weather allows it, the herd roams freely over the nearly 180 hectares of the Tarnawka settlement, surrounded by the picturesque Dynowskie Hills – a foretaste of the Bieszczady region. And it is there that Tadeusz Budziński accompanied the Arabian horses for many days. A renowned photographer, having numerous awards and career achievements under his belt, known to readers for his exceptional beauty of the albums dedicated to the Podkarpacie region, wolves and Hucul (Carpathian) ponies, published by the same editor. I must confess that I faced the newest work with some concern. In my mind’s eye I still saw the scenes of “the most beautiful horses in the world” – using a comparison made by Józef Korolkiewicz – by Zofia Raczkowska, an unparalleled photographic portraitist of these steeds for the last half century. However already a first glimpse at book’s opening black and white photo of a trotting Nenufar under the otherwise known satirist Krzysztof Czarnota calmed my fears. The photographs are gathered under six themes: A herd of horses, Summer, Winter, Horse versus Horse, Ears, eyes and nostrils as well as Gallop. Let’s take a look at them.

A herd of horses resembles a kind of chronicle of events. The photographer follows the herd’s footsteps, observing its behavior in nature’s beautiful surroundings. Holding my breath, I watched the Arabians trotting at the break of day, through the veils of mist, among the streaks of light from the just-awoken sun or frightened by the storm lurking on the horizon. I was especially moved by the autumn scenes. This, perhaps most richest time of year, pleases the eye with a multitude of colors, a dominance of reds and yellow and perfectly harmonizes with the grey, bay and black coat color of the handsome mounts – who, it seems, feel the decline of nature’s cycle, therefore greedily eating away the clover and grass against a background of “burning” leaves.

After a while we move back in time a couple of weeks, admiring the dog-days of the book’s main characters. And so above all: playing, racing, chasing and jumping among the blooming pastures. The frisky folk seem to have no duties during the summer season. Just like some vacationers. Freska’s sheepish look seems as though she has just been caught performing some naughty deed. Contrary to Etura, who methodically chewing the green forage, ignores the presence of the intruder with stoic calm. The Arabians of Kielnarowa have the opportunity to taste snow. Literally, because they are also turned out to pasture in the winter time. As suggested in the foreword by Professor Andrzej Strumiłło – a huge admirer of pure-breds – the owner follows the example of Spirydon Ostaszewski, a valued breeder from before 150 years, a progenitor of extensive breeding, who “having bought the Mogilno estate with immense steppes, purchased 400 mares from the primitive, Chersoń herds, from which he thought to produce good horses by improving them with better stallions. He never kept the herd on dry forage during the cold months; it wandered the steppes all winter long, raking out withered grass from under the snow”. In the mid-nineteenth century this was not generally accepted – on the contrary, it led the breeder to court. The dispute between him and the inspector of the government herd Filip Eberhard – a believer of keeping animals indoors lasted 16 (sixteen!) years. Unfortunately the author of the stylistically captivating foreword does not give Lady Justice’s verdict on this.

Horse versus Horse in its majority also takes place during the winter. Especially engraved in my memory is the photo sequence portraying the duel of Argentino and El Giewont for the dominance in the herd. The final picture shows that it ended “out of court” – the four-legged adversaries reached a compromise. A fine example for our political parties, don’t you think?

I flip through a couple of pages revealing stablemates frolicking and arrive at a chapter devoted to portraits. The mare Argentyna has a sad face, Circe tries to avoid the camera – does she consider herself as un-photogenic? Etura appears very humble lowering her eyelids, while a dark-coated colt on page 98 seems to be looking out for a potential rider.

For dessert – the author offers a dynamic image of the photographed creatures. Blowing manes, flowing tails of a herd galloping across steep meadows and forest tracks perfectly symbolize the feeling of freedom, with which these noblest of hoofed creatures are undoubtedly associated with.

The album is bilingual and the Polish text was translated into English by Renata Downey.
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