Folk textiles and dress from Konavle, Croatia

During our stay in Croatia last October we visited two interesting ethnographic museums – in Dubrovnik and in Cilipi, a small town in the region of Konavle, the southernmost part of Croatia, near the border with Montenegro.


Entrance to the Cilipi Ethnographic Museum

Dress ensembles and details

As usual, I was drawn to old photographs of people in ethnic dress


Information panels in Croatian and English told the story of the local ‘Embroiderers’ Guild’:

‘The Embroiderers’ School, known as the Embroiderers’ Guild, engaged in the application of folk embroidery and was active in Cavtat (on the coast, near Cilipi) between the two World Wars. Its founder Jelka Miš, a school teacher (Dubrovnik 1875-1956) deserves a special mention as she, through her tireless work and enthusiasm, dedicated her lifelong efforts to the nurturing and preservation of the traditional cultural heritage – first of all, embroidery. Her first teaching appointment in Konavle (in the village of Mrcine, present-day Dubravka) was in 1905. She showed great interest in learning all kinds of embroidery from local women, thus reviving some of the almost forgotten old techniques of embroidery. In her intentions to learn other national embroideries, she travelled a lot all over Croatia and to neighbouring countries, collecting samples in search of different techniques of handwork from the rich and versatile folk costumes. Thus having acquired an immense knowledge of folk embroideries, she founded the Embroiderers’ School in Cavtat in 1922, which was attended by many girls from Cavtat and Konavle. Students made samples from the originals, respecting at the same time the original technique, ornamentation and colourfulness of embroideries. They also made objects for everyday use.

The Cavtat Embroiderers’ Guild (1922-1946) offered its handicraft on the market, both at home and abroad. A part of the earnings was given to the embroiderers and the rest was invested into further development of the Guild. Thus a building in Cavtat was bought (Bukovčeva street no. 1), where the school was housed until its closing.’

Details of some of the embroidered textiles on display


On the first floor of the museum.  Note the painting by Croatian artist, Vlaho Bukovac. I’ll write more about him in a future blogpost.


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