Sarmatism

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"Sarmatism" (also, "Sarmatianism") is a term designating the dominant lifestyle, culture and ideology of the szlachta (nobility) of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Together with "Golden Liberty," it formed a central aspect of the Commonwealth's culture. At its core was a mistaken belief in the legend that Polish nobles were descended from the ancient Sarmatians.

The term and the culture were reflected primarily in 17th-century Polish literature, as in Jan Chryzostom Pasek's memoirs and the poems of Wacław Potocki. The Polish gentry (szlachta) wore a long coat, trimmed with fur, called a żupan, and thigh-high boots, and carried a saber (szabla). Mustaches were also popular, as well as varieties of plumage in the menfolk's headgear. Poland's "Sarmatians" strove for the status of a nobility on horseback, for equality among themselves ("Golden Freedom"), and for invincibility in the face of other peoples.Simon Schama, Landscape and Memory Vintage, New York, 1995:38. Sarmatism lauded the past victories of the Polish Army, and required Polish noblemen to cultivate the tradition. An inseparable element of their festive costume was a saber called the karabela.

Sarmatia (in Polish, Sarmacja) was a semi-legendary, poetic name for Poland that was fashionable into the 18th century, and which designated qualities associated with the literate citizenry of the vast......
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