My mother, who was born and raised in Knin, but went to university in Split, sang the melodic songs of the Adriatic to me. A favourite that she sang with great sentiment began with:
Daleko mi je biser Jadrana, Daleko mi je moj rodni kraj…
Far from me is the pearl of the Adriatic, Far from me is the land of my birth… Continue reading
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.
People often ask why I am so intent on preserving costume pieces and helping others learn more about them. One of the major reasons I do so is because costume pieces are tangible pieces of the past, and in that sense, tangible evidence of the existence of a people. Continue reading
Throughout their history, Slavic men’s costumes invariably have included some sort of vest or sleeveless upper garment. It is known among Eastern, Western and Southern Slavs, and the Serbs (belonging to the Southern Slavic branch) are certainly no exception. The vest, or jelek, has changed over the centuries, influenced by the cultures that shaped our history.
Homolje is a mountainous region of northeastern Serbia. It is a beautiful, rugged countryside centred around the Braničevo and Bor districts, with the Peka and Mlava rivers cutting through them. It borders the Stig district toward the Danube, and Timok region to the east; Beljanica and Crni Vrh mountains are to the south. It is a district inhabited by Serbs and Vlachs, with lively folklore and beautiful costumes.
The preparation of textile fibres and the production of fabrics engaged Serbian peasants for much of their year. While some tasks were performed by both men and women, it was the woman’s prerogative to produce threads and yarns from processed fibres using their spindle and distaffs, their preslice and their vretena. Continue reading
I’ve been fortunate to have acquired a lot of interesting costume pieces over the years, some as purchases but many as gifts. Not all of them have been big items, or rare ones. Socks are an overlooked piece of folk dress and I’d like to share some of the beautiful Eastern Serbian examples I have.
Probably one of the most well-known paintings in the art heritage of Serbia, “Preparing the Bride” by 19th century Serbian painter Paja Jovanović, is a favourite of mine. It has been reproduced on cards, posters, as needlepoint, even on the lids of chocolate boxes, and is a snapshot of a time that has past but is still somehow remembered by the collective Serbian psyche.