The exhibition, organised for the 100th anniversary of the photographer's death, presents the works of traveler, ethnographer and amateur archeologist Leon Barszczewski. Barczewski uncovered precious artifacts in ancient regions of Central Asia, spanning everyday objects and jewels from prehistoric times to the present day...
The exhibition, organised for the 100th anniversary of his death, presents the works of traveler, ethnographer and amateur archeologist Leon Barszczewski
Barczewski embarked on valuable expeditions to Central Asia, mainly to the region of Samarkand, the surrounding mountains, rivers of Zeravshan, Fan, Iskander and Yagnob. These voyages resulted in the creation of maps and demarcation of the previously unknown trails. In 1885 Barszczewski engaged in excavation in Afrasiab - ancient Samarkand. He found this post thanks to the local boys who were playing with clay pots they had found. Barszczewski paid them to show him where they found these artifacts and he also bought the pots. He started working and found that same day urns, silver boxes with pearl necklaces, golden earrings and bracelets.
Barszczewski initally thought that he had uncovered a burial ground. But as he kept finding more and more distinct artifacts he came to the conclusion that this was, in fact, a house of somebody wealthy, perhaps a merchant. Although he was not a professional archeologist, he knew how important this discovery was. Therefore he documented everything in detail and began to create a methodology for his search. An astute analysis of the gathered materials brought him to a conclusion that all of these objects came from different periods, from prehistoric times through the present.
A second phase of works uncovered the remains of several households and objects of everyday use: ornate dishes, clothes and jewelry. Having recognised the importance of his discovery, Barszczewski tried to promote the research on Samarkand among Russian archeologists. He sent his reports to St. Petersburg and Moscow but he never received a reply.
It was the French who became interested in his discovery and offered to buy the artifacts from him along with taking over the post. After long negotiations Barszczewski agreed to sell a fraction of his findings. The remainder of the collection he decided to donate to a museum he founded in Samarkand. One can say that it was a kind of a gift to the people of Bukhara - ones he spent time with everyday and who inspired his photography.
Alongside Barszczewski's photographs, the exhibition features Archeological Museum's own collections from Central Asia, Uzbeki and other antiques from that region that belong to the Museum of Asia and Pacific and contemporary objects belonging to Leon Barszczewski's great grandson - Igor Strojecki.
The exhibition runs between December 1, 2010 - February 22, 2011.
The National Archeological Museum
52 Długa Street, 00-241 Warsaw
Director: Dr. Wojciech Brzeziński
tel. (+48 22) 504 48 00
fax (+48 22) 831 51 95
Source: press release