Lacemaking in Croatia

Lacemaking in Croatia

If you are looking for adventure and something beyond the usual tourist tours, follow the trail of lace – this protected intangible cultural heritage will lead you to three beautiful places that still cherish the lacemaking tradition. Each is different and unique, and yet they share a common thread – the delicate lace, created by filigree-like movements of hard-working hands of generations of women, who have invested their patience and skill into creating these tiny works of art. In European cultural spheres, the craft of lacemaking was reserved for monastic orders, and only the wealthiest members of society could afford this luxury.

 

Lacemaking has been a cherished tradition in Croatia for centuries, especially in small rural communities, where homemakers left their mark in the long history of this folk artform. Lacemaking in Croatia began in medieval times with the Order of Saint Paul in the town of Lepoglava and the Benedictine nuns on the islands of Pag and Hvar, where they created the delicate pieces in quiet devotion and humble surroundings. The first pieces adorned religious spaces and were used for ceremonial purposes, and later on became part of clerical clothing. With time lace was included in traditional clothes and shoes, as the nuns selflessly imparted their knitting skills to the common folk. Thus, the lacemaking tradition found its way into every home, including the court of Empress Maria Theresa. In addition to the Lepoglava lace, renowned for its delicacy and different varieties, the lace from Pag is highly valued as well due to its particularly decorative quality, and the fact that it is made with very fine thread.

 

A special story lies behind the lace from the island of Hvar, still cherished by the Benedictine nuns. They use a painstaking method of extracting threads from the spiky agave plant found everywhere on the island, after which they retreat to pray and devote themselves to creating wonderful works of art, as well as hold an exhibition of this unique piece of world heritage in their small lace museum. The lace, once considered as a kind of relic for personal devotion, is an intricate decorative piece made from thousands of delicate threads, which has in recent years seen a true revival as a genuine Croatian souvenir that represents and preserves the Croatian lacemaking tradition in a beautiful and unique way.