Vanishing professions

Extinct or already extinct professions that were once popular in our area include carpentry, roofing, carpentry, cooperage, wheelwrighting, braiding (including wickerwork), sieving, pottery, blacksmithing, saddlery, weaving, tailoring, shoemaking, milling, beading and embroidery1.

Carpentry (building wooden houses), roofing (covering and repairing roofs) and carpentry (making wooden furniture) were professions closely related to building and furnishing houses. While these professions still exist, the nature of the work has completely changed. Although carpenters build houses, they no longer prepare the boards and logs themselves – by hand – but buy them ready-made from sawmills. There are also far fewer timber houses being erected these days, and almost none are built in the traditional way. Although every house needs a roof, roofers no longer use traditional, natural materials like straw or wood shingles for this purpose. Carpentry, on the other hand, is increasingly being replaced by the production of furniture from various types of boards, although it has become newly popular in recent times.

Farming-related occupations are practically gone in their traditional form. A cooper was a craftsman who produced wooden barrels. A wheelwright, on the other hand, produced wooden wheels, mainly for carts. A major sitar center in our area was Bilgoraj – the area specialized in the production of sieves, which were sold over a very large area. Saddlery involved the processing of animal hides and the manufacture of leather accessories, such as thongs and flaps for shoes. Braiding in our area involved three materials: the bast of dogwood grass, straw, or wicker (sometimes branches of soft trees, such as willow iva, were also used). Today you can find individuals engaged, usually as a hobby, in wickerwork. Similarly, amateurs of traditional pottery – that is, creating vessels from clay – can still be found today. Blacksmithing, although still found today, has taken on a completely different form. Blacksmiths are involved in metalworking – but while they once mainly made tools and shoe horses, today their work is the production of metal decorated gates and fences.

The other occupations mentioned in the introduction were concerned with caring for people – eating food or creating clothing. These are essential activities for humans, which is why they still exist today, but mostly taken over by large centers. Small-scale weavers no longer exist, as all materials are produced in factories. It is increasingly rare to find shoemakers or tailors, who are more often engaged in altering and repairing ready-made clothes or shoes, and less often in making these things from scratch. There is another family mill in Tomaszow Lubelski, which mills flour and sells groats. Bartending also occurs in a hobbyist form, honey production is done for the family’s use.


1 Z. A. Skuza, Ocalić od zapomnienia, Ginące zawody w Polsce, Warszawa, 2006