Polish mining has a long tradition.
Read Barborka, Miners' Day (St. Barbara Day), December 4th about a celebration of the mining day in Poland. Read also more about Silesia's natural resources - beautiful pottery in the article entitled:
European Crafts, Polish Pottery and China.
Poland is a country of mines. Salt, coal, copper, iron ores were excavated here for centuries. It is also a country of miners. Mining is a very dangerous profession. Miners were usually very religious people, they believed that the protection of saints could help them to survive the accidents. There are many underground chapels built for miners' saints (St. Kinga was a guardian saint of salt miners and St. Barbara was a guardian saint of coal miners). Miners believed that saints would protect them from accidents and deaths.
But besides being religious miners were also superstitious and they believed with their whole heart in so called "Skarbnik". Skarbnik (Treasurer) was believed to be a guardian over miner life - something like a guardian angel. Skarbnik was supposed to look like a miner, talk like a miner and wear miners' cloths but he was a ghost. The belief in Skarbnik was very vivid among miners.
This story which I am going to describe is a REAL story and it happened to my grandfather who was also a miner. He was working all his life in a coal mine in Katowice (Katowitz). Katowice is a town of about 400,000 people now and it is a center of mining industry in southwest Poland. It is also a capital of Upper Silesia, a very interesting region which was influenced by different cultures - Polish, German and Czech.
My grandfather was a foreman. Once during the daily round walk he got tired, he sat on the piece of coal and fell asleep. In his sleep he saw a Skarbnik. Skarbnik approached him and angrily said "you sleep here while you should work, how you dare!". My grandfather immediately woke up, stood up and started walking. Then… a big chunk of coal fell down covering completely the place where he was sitting just a moment ago. He could not believe his own eyes. Skarbnik saved his life. My grandfather believed in Skarbnik from his whole heart and this accident even deepened his belief and respect for a guardian Skarbnik.
written by Jagoda Urban-Klaehn, October 2000 (article #11)