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Sabala - Legendary Story-Teller

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Sabala (1809- 1894) is one of the most fascinating personalities of the Podhale region known not only in Poland, but in Hungary and Slovakia as well. His real name was Jan Krzeptowski, but he was commonly known as Sabala. Others also called him Sablik and Czakor. Though Sabala was illiterate, he became part of the Polish culture thanks to his unrivalled gift for telling stories, which were later popularised by such famous Polish men of letters as Stanislaw Witkiewicz and Henryk Sienkiewicz. The latter even referred to him as ''Homer of the Tatra Mountains.'' Sabala's highlander tales were usually accompanied by music played on ''zlobcoki'' (the regional musical instrument). These tunes, called ''Sabalowe nuty'' (the Sabala notes), have become part of the highlander culture and are performed by the traditional highlander bands nowadays. However, his music, though perfectly reflecting Sabala's mood, was only an addition to the stories. They were of the utmost importance and they made him renowned as an unmatched story-teller of tales full of humour and imagination. The themes were usually picked up while walking to Orava, Liptov and Hungary. Then, upon coming back, Sabala spin his tales about the mountain ghosts, the bears, sleeping knights, etc. (i.e. anything he saw or he could imagine) while sitting by the bonfire. All his stories had something in common – the tradition and the folk wisdom of the highlanders. His company was sought for, especially by artists and intelligentsia of his times, who wanted either to record his tales in writing or to listen attentively to the notes he played. However, not all the people marvelled at Sabala's gift, as they regarded him as a rowdy, trouble-maker who should have rather devoted himself to his family.


For his merits, Sabala was buried in Peksowy Brzyzek Cemetery in Zakopane, whereas a monument dedicated to him and Chalubinski, was erected in the centre of the city. His family house can still be seen at 8c Krzeptowki Street.

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