Duelling Scars

As a boy Pali Weidlinger was forced to take fencing lessons.  He was never much of a sportsman… and he absolutely loathed fencing.

In the 1930s duels were still frequent in Hungary.  Being good with a foil or a sabre ensured that you would be able to defend your honor.  Among university students dueling scars were a badge of honor.  Sometimes the wounds were self-inflicted.  A razor-cut would be made on the cheek or jawline.  A horsehair would be embedded in the wound.  When it was partially healed over the hair would be ripped out reopening the cut and ensuring a lasting scar.



1925-Paul with rifle-cleaned


When he was eleven years old Pali’s cousin Ili took this picture of him holding a rifle. To me it suggests a whiff of rebellion, which was entirely in character. Then, as if realizing he was taking himself too seriously, Pali exchanged clothes with Ili. He put on her flapper’s dress. She donned his jacket and short pants.

Later, when Pali was a university student in Brno he did engage in a duel, but instead of brandishing sabers my father and his opponent faced off with artists’ palettes. Pali seems to have found his weapon.




1932-Paul-duelling artists-cleamed