Stanislaw Poniatowski

He was born in October 6 in Ceranów, near Siedlce. He was the son of Francis and Anna Wiedrowskich. He graduated high school in Warsaw, then in the years 1902-1905 he studied mechanics at Warsaw University of Technology. In 1903 he was imprisoned in the X Pavilion of the Citadel because of belonging to a secret student organization "Unification". In the years 1904-1906 belonged to the PPS. As a school strike result, he went to Zurich, where he studied anthropology under the direction of R. Martin and archeology with M. Heierlieg. He graduated and received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. The doctoral dissertation Ȕber den Einfluss der Beobachtungsfehler auf die anthropologischen Indices” appeared in Polish under the title The Influence of observational errors on anthropological indicators in Warsaw, 1912. After returning to Poland he was an assistant in the Laboratory of Scientific Society of Warsaw. From 1913 until 1919 he organized and managed by the collections of the Ethnological Laboratory of Ethnographic Museum of Industry and Agriculture in Warsaw, taught parallel anthropology and ethnography in the  Society for Academic Courses. Then he was a founder and curator of  Warsaw University Library, and from October 1914 to November 30, 1919 was its director. (1917-1934) Then he taught ethnology and ethnography in the Free Polish University (1917-1934). During the Polish-Soviet war fought as a senior soldier in the Third Telegraph Company. From 1920 to 1939 he was a lecturer in the Department of General and Foreign Ethnology and Ethnography at the University of Józef Pilsudski (under that name operated in 1935-1939 Warsaw University), in the same time he was a head of the Department of Ethnology Institute of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences in Warsaw Scientific Society, of which he was a member of the real. Since 1921 he run together with professor  Stołyhwa  " Archives of Anthropological Sciences". He also belonged to the Polish Oriental Society, since 1935 was a member of the Anthropological Commission, ethnographic, geographic and Prehistoric Academy of Sciences, and since 1917 - the Imperial Geographical Society in St. Petersburg. He represented Polish science on scientific congresses, including Prague and Amsterdam. During World War II Poniatowski continue his works until 1942, when he was arrested. Even at the beginning of the war touched him personal tragedy - in the first days of war died his son Andrew, a young second lieutenant, and April 15, 1943, died his wife. Poniatowski was imprisoned several months in Pawiak and later in the concentration camp at Majdanek, the spring of 1944 he was transported to the camp Gross-Rossen in Silesia. From there to Litomierzyce in the Sudety  Mountains, where he died on 7 January 1945.

Stanislaw Poniatowski expedition to the Land Golds and Orochon

The end of the nineteenth century was a period of the first ethnological expeditions.  "Cabinet researchers" realized that the analysis of accidentally collected information does not allow a full understanding of selected cultural phenomena. They started the trend of the expedition, called survey studies, and normally comprised a large area, inhabited by several peoples. The aim was to collect as much data as possible in relatively short time of stay in the area. The study was conducted using prepared in advance questionnaires. The advantage of such exploration was undoubtedly the direct contact with the aboriginals, but often too short to properly interpret more complex social phenomena. During this "survey" researchers, moving constantly after a specified geographic area, had only a few or several days to try to deepen their knowledge of the local culture of peoples. Moreover, the language barrier often forced to go through translators, which significantly affected the quality of the obtained material. The weaknesses of this type of research were noticed later by Bronislaw Malinowski: too short contact a researcher with aboriginals and ignorance of their language. Nevertheless, the study and their results enjoyed strong support from the scientific circles, both at the initiative of the British scientific community, as well as American. From the very beginning they were interdisciplinary expeditions in which participated experts from different disciplines - physical and the cultural anthropologists, geographers, biologists, psychologists. These explorations led to meeting much important and often new information about the original peoples, and also showed the need for direct contact with them.

Particularly important in this context was the expedition of Stanislaw Poniatowski to the country of Golds and Orochon. The expedition planned to prove the thesis of Asian Indian origin, which according to this theory through the Aleutian Islands and Alaska infiltrated the American continent and spread there. The materials collected through similar studies by other researchers of Siberian peoples, including W. Bogoraz (studies of the Chukchee, previously) and W. Yokhelson (1906) were insufficient to support such conclusions, it was necessary to continue research including cultural and anthropological perspective. In order to prepare the ground for further explorations in 1912 in Siberia, American anthropologist of Czech origin, Aleš Hrdlička, led his expedition. The result of this expedition was a brochure Remains in Northern Asia of the Race that Peopled America, but it did not bring, however, definitive solutions. Then Hrdlička, during his stay in Warsaw, suggested that Poniatowski would lead further comparative cultural studies. Stanislaw Poniatowski in the first years of scientific work drew the attention of the European anthropologists. R. Martin, a German physical anthropologist and ethnographer offered him to prepare a compilation work, concerning the statistical methods used in anthropology and related sciences. The tasks have been fulfilled brilliantly.

Poniatowski accepted this offer because, as an anthropologist he understands the need for continuing research on the subject of intercontinental migration of people and cultures.

Oxford University, the Pennsylvania Museum, the Smithsonian Institution and the Russian Academy of Sciences had patronized his expedition. During the study Poniatowski had to examine the population of Tunguska tribes, primarily Gilyak, Orochon and Gold. In preparation for the expedition he collected special equipment, i.e. Smithsonian Institution providing not only funds, but also research equipment, and specialized anthropometric schemes. To the Amur Land Poniatowski went from Warsaw on May 10th, 1914. The route of his journey over the Amur led by St. Petersburg, and then followed by Irkutsk, where he appeared 24 May, 1914. Then he headed toward Manchuria to Vladivostok and Khabarovsk. From there Poniatowski went by motorboat to the first object of research, Skocheolan village, situated on the Amur. The problems associated with lack of land communication routes and transport difficulties made the expedition moved mainly waterways. Here, no major problems could get a boat or a motorboat. Therefore, Poniatowski visited primarily Golds residing on the Amur. He used this indigenous tradition with the submission of his visits and long conversations to make the best possible contact with the locals and gain their favor. The newcomers, who made their way here, came mainly from settlements Dada, Dajerga, Dondon, Gordamu, Lomomi, M (u) hu, Myngen, Sum, Suzu and Torgon. In addition to collecting measurements and photographic documentation Poniatowski also sought to gather information on the spiritual culture of the natives. Observations of Poniatowski also resulted in information about the daily struggles of the inhabitants of Siberia with environmental difficulties, as well as descriptions of their games and other manifestations of social life. Leading the search for common points of cultural and anthropological between the Asian and Indian populations Poniatowski stumbled inter alia, on their traces in buildings and structures which in his opinion confirmed the cultural bonds between the two peoples. It was an example. Type of shelter, whose skeleton is made of poles stuck in the ground along a circle. Rods inside were tied at the top and covered with leafs strips of birch bark and mats. Features also exercised door mat, on the day collapsed over the entrance, at night abandoned.

Completion of research by expedition Stanislaw Poniatowski was prevented the outbreak of the First World War. He left the Amur country on August 8, 1914. During the study, he managed to accumulate a lot of objects and works of art Siberian, for example, embroidery, cut-outs and goods made from birch bark, patterns ornaments, and other ethnographic exhibits.

Because of the material collected by Poniatowski was published after many years, and the outbreak of the First World War prevented the completion of the data, the importance of Pole expedition on an international scale was weakened. The issue of Asian Indian origin settled in the course of other researches.