"Chariot" made by Harald Popkiewicz "Chariot" made by Harald Popkiewicz Karolina Drąg
Tips 05 Apr 2019

Amber Chariot

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One of the folk tales says that the ambers are fossilized tears of Heliad, the sisters of Phaeton, who was the son of the Sun God. Harald Popkiewicz, inspired by mythical history and sunny stone, created a unique object that can be admired in our Museum.


Spring came to the Amber Museum, thanks to the solar chariot by Harald Popkiewicz.

"Chariot" was created in 2006. For 12 years he was a part of exhibition in the Amber Museum in Gdańsk. Now you can admire it in the Amber Museum in Cracow.

In times when it was not possible to explain scientifically the origin of amber, the bothering question were sought in religion and folk tales.

Greek mythology tries to explain the issue of the origin of amber in the myth of Phaeton, the mortal son of Helios and the sea nymph Klimene. Phaeton grew up in the kingdom of mortal Merops, her mother's husband. He doubted that the divine blood was flowing in his veins. To prove to himself that he is son of Helios, he asked him for one wish: he wanted to ride a solar chariot. Helios could not withdraw his word - he agreed to Phaeton's dangerous ride.

The son of the sun lacked the skill of driving the pegasus pulling chariot. In spite of his father's warnings he left the route marked on the blue vault - the horses were horrified by the Sagittarius's taut arc and were too close to the surface of the Earth, which threatened the fire of heaven and earth. Helios could not help his son, he did not want to expose himself to the wrath of other gods. To avoid the catastrophe, Zeus threw down Phaeton by a thunderbolt which is why the young mortal man fell into the Eridan River. His sisters, Heliada, lamented their brother on the bank of the mythical river until the gods took pity on them, turning them into poplars and their tears turn into amber drops.

The silver chariot is an elaborate fitting for the magnificent milk amber lump symbolizing the Sun. Inspirations for the creation of the car were given to the artist by his sons, who are archaeologists. Articles about ritual carts from the Bronze Age, discovered in northern Europe, inspiring the artist. The ox pulling a mythical cart was made of a piece of black oak found on the beach in Mikoszewo, then was impregnated with beeswax. The silhouette of an ox resembles rock paintings from thousands of years ago. Maybe this ox is a reference to the sacred cows living on Tryteria, the island of Helios mentioned in Homer's "Odyssey"?

Harald Popkiewicz is one of the most recognizable Polish jeweller. The natural shapes of succinite have been inspiring the artist to create interesting sculptures in silver and amber since 1973. Since the beginning of the 20th century, Eryk and Olaf Popkiewicz have shared the  passion of their father. You can learn more about the family fascination from the article: http://ambermuseum.eu/muzeum-bursztynu/co-mozna-zobaczyc/item/140-popkiewicz-rodzinna-fascynacja-bursztynem

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