Lemko villages were frequently built on the banks of creeks. The houses were built along the road, with gardens and fields behind. The windowed length of the house usually faces the road. The traditional Lemko house is a rectangular or row home. They may have their own orchards and kitchen gardens. Living quarters and animal husbandry was typically done under one roof with only a wall to separate the areas, except in some villages in the Ropa river valley and in Nowy Sacz county, where livestock are provided with separate structures.47 The other sections of the house are the entry way, pantry, grain-storage room and a machinery and wagon barn.48

The homes are often made of split, half-round fir logs fitted at the corners using a simple interlock device or fish-tail joint. Dry forest moss was packed between the joints. The horizontal strips were painted white (or colored with white or bright yellow clay), except in Jaslo county where they are painted black (with oil grease) or in Sanok and Lesko county where they are red.49 Exterior decoration consists of painted motifs: solar signs, sickles, pothooks, angles, the tree of life, braids, and flowers, On flat doors were painted flowers: they were to have as many stems or twigs as there were family members. The home interior was simple: a wide bed, table, cupboard, clothes hangars, and benches against the walls. In a corner stood a large hooded stove. Interior decoration consisted of white-washed walls on which colorful streaks and dots were sometimes painted near windows and around the contour of the stove. These were usually painted by girls or elderly women who believed in the magical protecting powers of such designs.50 Roofs of older homes in the western Lemko Region are covered with shingles, but thatched with straw in eastern districts.51 Roofs of newer homes are of tin or tile. Examples of Lemko house architecture and decoration are found in Appendix II.

[continue on]
Return to Table of Contents