Andrzej Kramarz

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White Chamber  (Poland)

A white chamber is a core of a house, a secret room to which nobody can come but inmates.
It is an old tradition of Podhale’s villages that has been fading away finally and irrevocably.
A door to the white chamber is always locked and the key is guarded (most often it is hidden under a housekeeper’s feather bed). This strange room, which is called a sumptuous chamber or a sacristy, is inhabited and unheated. It is opened on Sundays and holidays only. One can’t sleep though there’s a bed, one can either eat or nor work though there’s a table in there. Those who know the depth of the theme say that this is a porch between life and death in which only a deceased can spend a night.
This is why a conventional altar, rug and some pictures of the saints are placed on a central wall. Embroidered pillows, artificial flowers and plastic statues make a colorful pomp. Elements of religion, tradition and fashion are mixed up with objects of kitsch brought from America, which show the wealth of the family.
Surprising is the fact, that even nowadays there are some houses in which a broad family occupies only one room while the other room is a cool and rich white chamber.