The Tree of Life is known throughout Indo-European cultures, with ancient roots. Slavic cultures are no exception; the Tree of Life had robust meaning in both Pagan and Christian culture. Alongside its ritual and religious use, this symbol entered every aspect of Slavic and Serbian decorative art, from stone and wood carving to weaving and embroidery.
Jewelry and adornment are as old as humanity, and our species has been very imaginative in creating unique, beautiful and sometimes bizarre ways to enhance our appearance. Often jewelry can be a cultural identifier, such as the neck rings of Padaung women, or the nose piercings of the Indian subcontinent. For the Balkan peninsula, one cultural identifier would have to be pafte, a piece of jewelry that is both beautiful and functional.
My interest in costume comes from a variety of angles. One of those is the physical origin of the threads, yarns and fabrics from which they’re made. There are historic, cultural and even biogeographical reasons for the various raw materials any culture uses, and the Serbs have their own story, too.
Although this blog’s primary focus is costume and the textile material culture of the Serbs, I do hope to address other aspects of folk life, traditions and customs. Previous posts have shown easter customs and tools for the processing of wool; this time, I’d like to look at a specific type of wood carving, the kepčija.
An eternal question, one that pops up very frequently in Serbian folk songs… Sorry, Madonna – before you, it was the Serbs who asked, “Who’s that girl?”
A coloured egg at Easter is a joyous reminder of spring, of rebirth and resurrection. The art of egg decoration almost died out entirely among the Serbs, but has survived through the traditional lives of remote villagers and the efforts of educators, museums and cultural institutions in both Serbia and the diaspora. Continue reading