Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Slovakia 2016
Matej Hrebenda

ISSUE DATE: 10 March 2016
CIRCULATION: 1 050 000
STAMP SIZE: 37.5 x 37.5 mm 
STAMP DESIGN: Dušan Kállay
ENGRAVER: František Horniak

Matej Hrebenda, a door-to-door bookseller (formerly a church assistant and town crier), a collector of old prints and folklore, the author of occasional and religious literature, represents a unique Slovak cultural worker and national revivalist.

Despite his simple origin, the lack of higher education, his poverty and visual handicap, he dedicated his life to spreading national awareness by consciously building up a base of readers across all layers of the population. While market based booksellers were mostly selling a commercial type of literature (calendars and other popular printed matter), Hrebenda offered valuable national writings mostly from the distribution network of Mikuláš Gašpar Fejérpataky-Belopotocký and Karol Amerling to families who often knew only spelling and prayer books. Along with selling books, he also effectively taught his customers to read: he encouraged them to read, he visited them regularly and urged them to talk about what they had read in the books they purchased.

While the image of the blind colporteur Matej Hrebenda is still alive in the cultural memory, the literary works he wrote remained unknown and apart from the recipients of occasional poems, it was not read by his contemporaries. There remains in manuscript more than 1,000 pages: the so called Magazine – Collection of Matej Hrebenda Hačavský‘s Poems (Magazín – zbierka veršov Mateja Hrebendu Hačavského), 500 pages: Booklet of Wishes of Different Christian Names in Verse (Knižočka veršovaných vinšov rozličných kresťanských mien) or a collection of spiritual songs Treasure of Heart Drawn from the Gospel of Lord Jesus and from the Apostolic Teaching (Poklad srdca z evanjelia Pána Ježiša a z učeniaapoštolskéhovybraný) (1825). In National Songs (Národné spievanky) (1834, 1835) and the collection Slovak National Songs II (Slovenské národné piesne II)(1874), several folk songs collected by Hrebenda were published. Finally, his Biography (Vlastný životopis) (written in 1860, published in 1976), in which he described his life’s course and experiences from his journeys around Slovakia and to Vienna is also available.

author: Jana Pácalová


Stamp images thanks to Slovenská pošta and POFIS

Slovenská pošta