The topic of rods and their functions in the social life of rural communities has been present in ethnographic and historical writings for over a hundred years, either as a separate research problem or as a side motif in larger monographs. The present article is based on the testimonies of the inhabitants of the village of Pradzona in Kashubia, recorded in the early 17th c. in the magistrates' court in Chojnice. Their evidence concerning a commonplace criminal case is also an evidence of a unique legal custom called 'rug'. The sources point to a peculiar legal practice, apparently unknown anywhere else, involving all the possessors from the village of Pradzona. The 'rug' was an assembly of the village population, headed by a 'rodder' -a widely respected person elected to be the keeper of the 'rug' rods - wooden sticks on which incisions were made to register the mutual claims of the participants. It seems that the only aim of the 'rug' was to settle controversies over land possession without engaging official courts. The participants voiced their grievances and complaints, which were later examined by the assembly; the accused had a right of veto. No veto led to the rod being incised to evidence the guilt. The incision was the basis to exact a fine. The article also refers to the history of the village and its vicinity, which provides a wider context for the described phenomenon and helps to suggest its interpretation.
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