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This beautiful & affordable medal features the warlike mermaid, the icon of Warsaw!
The medalists at the Warsaw Mint have produced a brilliant likeness of the warlike Mermaid of Warsaw. Deceptive in its simplicity, it completely captures the likeness of the protectress of city, exactly as she appears on the famous statue in the Old Town Square. This outstanding art medal tells a story, and it also commemorates the amazing history of the city of Warsaw, as well as the resilience of the Polish nation. However, it can also be appreciated at a simply aesthetic level; this beautiful medal is minted by the Mint of Poland in copper-nickel with an antiqued silver finish. So for lovers of art, history, or merely beauty, read on!
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The Legend of the Mermaid of Warsaw
We heard this story from an hoary old woman whom we encountered outside of a very fine Polish restaurant one day while we were visiting Warsaw. She was selling flowers from an aged wooden cart, and we were looking for local color, which she supplied in spades. This old crone told a tale of two young lovers, Var and Shava. Theirs was a forbidden love, and though they were completely dedicated to each other, their warring families could not see past the blood feud that had endured for generations. Var and Shava were able for a time to meet clandestinely under the stars in the woods, but when their elders found out, they forbid them from getting together. The young couple knew that their hearts would break and they would die forlorn if they could not be together. One night the lovers eloped, got married in a nearby town, and fled into the wilds of Masovia (Polish: Mazowsze) to start a new life far from their vengeance-obsessed kin.
Although Var and Shava were free, their troubles had only started. They had to survive torrential thunderstorms without shelter. They had to brave the elements, starvation, ferocious, carnivorous beasts, and every other peril known to man. Still, their love for each other was so strong that they persevered, albeit barely. They had only just begun to make a new life for themselves when they were attacked by a barbarian tribe. Their only choice was to flee, which they did on horseback, abandoning their few, meagre possessions to narrowly escape with their lives.
Though Var and Shava's horses ran swift as the wind, the barbarians would not cease their pursuit, whether out of pride or lust for treasure is lost to history. After three days and nights, the young lovers came to a river too wide to ford. They were exhausted, and their horses half dead. As the uncouth rabble closed in, they couple clung to each other, said a few words of love and parting, kissed one final time in this world, and prayed for a reunion in the next. Huddled together, there was nothing they could do except to await the inevitable blows that would free them from their suffering.
At this very moment there was a loud commotion in the river. Suddenly there sprang from the water behind them a huge being, the likes of which neither Var, nor Shava, nor even the savages, had ever seen before. In the blink of an eye, a huge and ferocious (though not uncomely) woman stood beside the young lovers. Armed with a gigantic sword and oversize shield, she towered above them, her wet skin glistening in the sun. Looking down, they could scarcely believe that where her legs should be was the tail of a sea serpent. Var and Shava were terrified, for now they would die at the hands of this beautiful and terrible creature instead of the vicious heathens.
Yet this was not to be. The barbarians' mouths were agape at this turn of events and clueless as to how to react. They needn't have worried - the mermaid moved forward slowly for an instant, then made her intentions clear as she attacked them with a speed that stunned the brutes beyond comprehension. Her blows rained down on them in rapid succession, knocking one here from his horse, decapitating another, and cleaving a third clean in two from head to toe, all in an instant. No tribe of humans could stand against such a belligerent prowess as this mermaid displayed. Var and Shava were speechless. How could this be? They had never heard tell of such a creature, for everyone knows that mermaids live in the ocean, not in rivers. Yet here she was, the world's only freshwater mermaid, come to defend the twosome.
The barbarians were routed. Those that were not eviscerated or otherwise hewn apart slunk off into the wilderness, never to return. Var and Shava's fear turned to wonder as the mermaid slowly and cautiously approached them. She gently explained that she protected all the good-hearted denizens of her shores. Then she addressed the couple more formally. In a voice loud and clear, she prophesied that Var and Shava would found a great city on the ground whereon they stood, and become progenitors of a great people, whose legacy would last as long as the earth should endure.
So who was this young couple? Did they really create a lasting legacy? And how do we know their tale in this modern day and age, hundreds of years after their incredible adventures? Well, once the barbarians were driven off and the mermaid had spoken her prophecy, Var and Shava settled down in peace and founded a city, never to be bothered again because of their protectress. You see, in Polish, Var and Shava are War and Szawa, so naturally when they came together, the town that they founded was called Warszawa, or Warsaw as we know it today. This is why the warlike mermaid of the Vistula River (Polish: Wisla), the only fresh-water mermaid in the entire world, is the emblem of the City of Warsaw. And through trials and tribulations the likes of which few cities have ever suffered, Warsaw endures to this day, the greatest city of Poland and one of the great cities of the world.
A full-color copy of this legend will be included with each medal.
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Commemorating Warsaw's Incredible History
The history of Warsaw is incredible, and we certainly don't have the space here to even begin to do it justice, so a few notes relevant to the scene on the medal will have to suffice. The Mermaid of Warsaw is the not just the only freshwater mermaid in the world (she lives in the Vistula River), but she is also the only bellicose or warlike mermaid. Based on her history, she is not only well armed, but also quite skilled in the use of her weapons.
The battle-ready mermaid of the Vistula is the official civic emblem of Warsaw and can be seen the city's coat of arms, as well as on police cars and uniforms, government buildings, etc. There are also two impressive statues of her, one in the main square of the Old Town, where it is a well-known meeting point for young couples.
The statue of King Sigismund III Vasa is famous because it was the very first statue of a secular figure publicly erected in Northern Europe It dates to 1644, when it was placed atop its column by Sigismund's son and successor, Wladyslaw IV Vasa. The column itself is famous as a symbol of the resilience of the Polish people. The column has been torn down several times by conquerors, most recently by the Nazis in 1944, yet each time it has been rebuilt, the statue repaired and placed back atop the column.
The Royal Palace of Warsaw is equally renowned for the same reason. Like all of Old Town Warsaw, it was completed leveled by the Nazis, on Hitler's personal order, who declared during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 that if he couldn't hold Warsaw, then no one would, and the world should forget that there was ever a city named Warsaw. This didn't exactly sit well with the Poles, who after the Second World War began a rebuilding project of immense scope. Not content merely to rebuild the city of Warsaw, Polish artists and architects gathered photographs, plans, and paintings of the Old Town of Warsaw from far and wide, including from the Vatican archives. They sifted the rubble for architectural fixtures and details, and then meticulously rebuilt a restored Old Town exactly as it had been. It took over 30 years, but the Royal Palace was eventually rebuilt too.
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A dynamic view of the well-armed and warlike mermaid of Warsaw (Polish: Syrenka Warszawska). She rises above the crests of the crashing waves, armed with a sword and round shield, vigorously pursuing her agenda against those who would threaten Warsaw.
A scene of Old Town Warsaw (Polish: Stare Miasto), with a view of the statue of King Sigismund III Vasa (Polish: Zygmunt III Waza) on its stately column (Polish: Kolumna Zygmunta). The relaxed charm of this side, as a horse-drawn carriage leisurely tours Castle Square, contrasts with the dynamic scene on the obverse.
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This medal is encapsulated and presented inside a full color folder, housed inside a full color sleeve made of glossy, heavy card stock. The extensive, bilingual text tells about the city of Warsaw, with full color photos. A beautifully printed copy of the legend of the Warsaw Mermaid is included.
|Issuing Authority||Mint of Poland (The Warsaw Mint)|
|Size - Packaging||110.0 mm x 110.0 mm|