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Robbers’ revenge

Punkt na szlaku: On the ruffians’ paths

According to tradition, on one of the Gorce meadows called Limierze, a cruel tragedy took place caused by robbers. In a cauldron with drink made of sheep milk they boiled alive the local head of shepherds (pl. baca) who was dare enough to object the group and who killed their companion. In folk tradition this event is related also to many other clearings in the Carpathian Mountains. read more

Not a long time ago Gorce were a veritable pasture land. Sheep and cattle were grazing on the meadows, sheds and shepherd tool sheds were present on the glades and pasture land. According to tradition, one of the Gorce meadows - Limierze – is a place where a cruel tragedy took place caused by robbers.

The meadow Limierze is located on the south side of the Kopieniec Peak (1080 m. AMSL) one of the peaks in the mountain ridge going towards north to the Turbacz Mountain. In the peak part there is an old forest, with several hundred years old beech trees. Allegedly, a cautious hiker can find signs cut in tree trunks, indicating the path to ruffian’s treasure hidden under the peak.

The name of the pasture land - Limierze – is connected to charcoal pyrography for the needs of operating in the footing of Gorce glassworks. Limierze was the name of mounds made of wood covered with turf, where the charcoal pyrography took place.

Baca known for honesty and thrift was managing the pasture land for many years. The pasture land, rich in grass, and managed by experienced baca, could yield a large profit from grazing, however, ruffians visited the shed once every several days and they took away chees, drink made of sheep milk (pl. żętyca) and often also the meat. In fact, they didn’t raid or rob the shelter, but who would dare to refuse the ruffians’ “gentle request”? Finally, baca ran out of patience. One day, ruffians, as usual, came to the pasture land in search of food. Hidden at the border of the meadow, they sent to the shelter a small boy who joined their company. Baca noticed that the boy was alone, so he killed him and he hid his body under a heap of branches behind the shelter. In the meantime, when their small companion wouldn’t come back for a long time, ruffians came to the pasture land themselves, asking the shelter’s host for the boy. Even though baca swore that he didn’t see anybody like this on the pasture land, suspicious “guests” searched the shelter and the whole vicinity. They found traces of blood which led them to the body of the killed boy. They ordered baca to fill in the cauldron with the drink made of sheep milk; next, they threw him in the drink and boiled him alive. Begging and explanations of the poor wretch that he killed, because ruffians ruined him completely and he wouldn’t dare to ask for payment did not help him.

After the revenge was completed, the company coming back from the pasture land met younger assistants of baca (pl. juhas) coming with sheep to the evening milking. The company, laughing, told them to hurry up for the supper as the ram boiled in żętyca is ready, and, as everybody knows, ram’s meat boiled in Żętyca was the delicacy of shepherds and ruffians.

The history about baca boiled in Żętyca is a motif present in various locations. It is also connected with the Solteż Meadow, bordering the Limierze Meadow from the east, with Jaworzyna Kamienicka, Wolica in Gorce or Hala Czarne on the northern slopes of the Babia Góra. This motif is also present in the Eastern Carpathian Mountains.

Ruffians usually treated pasture land and meadows as their background infrastructure. Here they received food supplies, hid from the pursuit, healed their wounds. Shepherds usually willingly contacted their friends in the ruffian’s company. It was caused by family-neighbouring relationships and the aid ruffians offered in case of frequent conflicts with other sheds and the protection from new ruffians’ groups. The visit of ruffians on a pasture land with friendly relationship was usually a good opportunity for a feast and fun (customary law respected losses in the flocks caused by ruffians). In majority of cases raids on the sheds were made by strangers’ groups coming from faraway, as ruffians, for many reasons, preferred to live in good relationship with local shepherds.

Often baca and his assistants, or only few of them, belonged to ruffians’ companies. Sometimes, the grazing activity was only a cover for the factual business of the hosts in the pasture land, with baca as harnaś, the ringleader.

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Kapliczka przed Polaną Limierze