‘The Sphinx of Slav Sigillography’ – this is how small lead objects with mysterious symbols found since 1864 at the bottom of Drohiczyn Góra Zamkowa (Castle Mount) were described. They are called ‘Drohiczyn seals’ after the place where they were found for the first time, although nowadays they are also known from the periphery of Kievan Rus, including the Polish-Russian borderland, especially Drohiczyn and Czermno, where they can be found in large numbers.
The function of these objects dating from the period of the 11th – 13th century still remains a riddle. It is difficult to give an explicit interpretation of images which they depict or identify the people issuing them. In the collection of the Numismatic Room there are almost one thousand seals of Drohiczyn type, and this collection, being examined now, has become the main reason for preparing this exhibition.
The presentation of the settlement Drohiczyn seals, as well as problems and research challenges connected with them, became a pretext for the continuation of the tale about the function of lead seal marks, commonly referred to as cloth seals, in the period of the late Middle Ages and modern times. They are an extremely interesting and essential historical source, which only recently became an object of serious studies. The previous long term lack of interest resulted probably from the mediocrity and unattractiveness of the lead material. Not without significance is also their subordinate position to very similar but more precious artefacts, such as coins or seals. The latter have been attracting attention of both scientists and collectors for a long time. Many cloth seals, especially those without writings, still remain unrecognised and their mysteries are waiting to be discovered.
Curators: Anna Bochnak, Mateusz Woźniak