Lajkonik horseman

 

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One of Krakow’s most colourful traditions is the Lajkonik parade. It has long been the city’s trademark festivals. Every year, on the first Thursday after Corpus Christ feast day, the bearded fake Mongol rides his ornate hobbyhorse to the historic centre of Krakow. Followed by a company of men dressed in historic costumes and a music band, from time to time Lajkonik stops the procession to perform his prancing dance. On his way he also visit local shops and restaurants to greet the people of Krakow.


History of the Krakow Lajkonik Festival

The tradition of the Lajkonik hobby-horse is told in the legend from the 13th century, which is about the defeat of a Tatar (Mongol) troop at the hands of Krakow ferrymen. But there are scientists who think this fable might have first been told in the 19th century. Some historians still believe that the Lajkonik tradition has evolved from earlier medieval celebrations of one of the Krakow guilds. Others point to pagan origins in fertility spring rituals. Because of the Lajkonik’s oriental looks and attributes, one theory ascribes them to the 17th century Orient Manifest in Poland.

The Lajkonik costume.
The modern appeal Lajkonik as well as its hobbyhorse dates to 1904 when the city asked one of Poland’s greatest artists – Stanisław Wyspianski to design it. The completed costumes weighs about 40 kilograms. Apart from the Lajkonik parade, it is exhibited at the Plac Krzysztofory Palace, at the seat of the Historical Museum of the city of Krakow at 35 Rynek Głowny central Square and Szczepanska street.

The itinerary of the Lajkonik parade.

The Lajkonik pageant starts at St. Norbert Convert, 88 Kosciuszki street, in the Zwierzyniec area. The parade proceeds down the streets of Kosciuszki, Zwierzyniecka, Franciszkanska and Grodzka. Then it reaches the Old Town’s main square, Rynek Glowny. The Lajkonik parade culminates in a show on Rynek Glowny central square. The mayor pays tribute to the Lajkonik and the Tatar horseman toasts to the happiness of Krakow. And finally, the Lajkonik and his companions perform their signature dance.

 

In 2017, the Lajkonik Parade will take place in June, 16.





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