Między obrazami a słowami – problem interpretacji ikonografii artefaktów na przykładzie gdańskich tokenów „zwierzęcych” z lat 1574–1577

Tomasz Maćkowski


Between images and words – the problem of artifacts’ iconography interpretation on the example of Gdańsk tokens with images of animals from 1574–1577


In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries Gdańsk’s authorities used lead tokens as a means of remuneration for mandatory work known as “szarwark”. All residents of Gdańsk were required to participate in the construction of fortifications as part of their compulsory work. Generally the municipal tokens bearing the Gdańsk coat of arms. But in the years 1574–77, on this type tokens, we can see different animals: a dog, lion, unicorn, horse and an owl or bat. The selection of animals placed on tokens was not accidental certainly. The purpose of this paper is to consider various premises that could indicate the key according to which the animal iconography was used. Unfortunately, this is not easy, because we do not have written sources on this subject, and the tokens had a very pragmatic application – that’s why universal symbols do not have to be used in this case. The use of animals on tokens was probably the resultant of several factors: the organization of work, various places of the construction of fortifications, the value of tokens and their purpose. The main threat here is the interpretation of the old symbolism by the present-day pattern of understanding the culture. Modern researchers of old symbolism often become too convinced that their interpretation is correct.   

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Historica Gedanensia" jest wersją pierwotną.