Sunday, 19 June 2022

Exploring Croatia's Intangible UNESCO Heritage: Lace-Making from Hvar, Pag and Lepoglava

June 19, 2022 - Continuing her look at the intangible UNESCO heritage of Croatia, Filipa Marusic looks at three Croatian communities whose heritage is bound by lace.

There is one UNESCO protected heritage that unites these different regions with same heritage – traditional lace making. This unique handiwork that presents different types of lace comes from island of Hvar (aloe lace), island of Pag (needle point lace) and the small town Lepoglava in northern Croatia (bobbin lace).

Lacemaking in Croatia dates back to Renaissance times, and it has been UNESCO intangible heritage since 2009, as well as ethnographic and cultural heritage for Croatia. The main difference between lacemaking in Croatia and other European countries is in the makers of the lace. In Europe, lacemaking was exclusively done by nuns in convents and nobility, while in Croatia is primary done by countryside women in small villages who got their knowledge from convents and mansions. Treasuries of Croatian monasteries, convents, churches and museums show lacemaking was first developed there and then it was shared with common people.

These women used lace for traditional clothes and furnishing and as an additional source of income. The technique and appearance is a bit different to lacemaking in Europe. Lacemaking has a centuries-long tradition in Croatia, and the skill is passed on from generation to generation in families but was also taught in schools. Lace schools lasted until the mid-20th century on Pag and in Lepoglava.

One of the definitions of lace is “handmade openwork made from linen, silk, aloe, silver and gold thread “. There are many different kinds of lace but the finest lace in terms of craftsmanship and quality is needlepoint and bobbin lace. The development of lacemaking has its roots in different textile handicrafts, like weaving and embroidery. The type of lace depended on cultural influences in the region. As an example, needle lace from Pag was spread in other Mediterranean countries while bobbin lace was influenced by central Europe.

The ribbon bobbin lace from flax fibres from Lepoglava was used as decoration for the folklore costumes and clothes or for sale at village fairs. To celebrate this lace making tradition, there is an International lace festival each year in Lepoglava. The lace strips were used as trimming for different clothes and the patterns are mostly geometrical, animal and floral. For the lace heritage in Lepoglava it is considered that Paulins order brought it to peasents. The golden era for lace making is definitely end of 19th and beginning of 20th century thanks to Zlata pl. Šufflay and Danica Brossler who held classes, workshops and a school of lacemaking. The lace from Lepoglava was sold on different fairs and exhibitions, in Zagreb, throughtout west Europe. The international lace festival is held from 1997 in Lepoglava and its 20th anniversary was in Septmeber 2016. They have various lacemaking events, live music, international projects which make this heritage even more valuable. There is also a lacemaking high school which nurtures lacemaking heritage and lacemaking cooperation where new generation of lacemakers is formed and they are the ones who keep this tradition.

Pag needle lace is ornamental decoration which first appeared in folklore textile as garments, tablecloths and clothes and then as an independent decoration. It has a spider web pattern and geometrical motifs and the lace making is taught by elderly women. It characteristic form is reticella and gothic geometrical patterns which are the main characteristics of renaissance lace – this was quite common on islands. The origin of the Pag lace comes from city of Mycenae, and the lace-making tradition dates back to the late 15th century when it was first connected to Benedictine convent that also held lace making school. The convent keeps the lace collection with more than 127 exhibits throughout 150 years and it presents Croatian cultural heritage. Lace from Pag is unique because it doesn’t have set template or blueprint but the way of making it is being transmitted from generation to generation. Pag had a lace school from beginning of 20th to mid 20th century, and it produced more than 200 new lacemakers. Lace making is part of the school programme – this, lace association and lace festival are important factors for preserving this heritage on Pag island.

The third lace inscribed as UNESCO heritage, is Hvar lace and it is made from aloe in form of a net or some other pattern. This lace is still connected to the Benedictine convent unlike lace from Lepoglava and Pag. The aloe leaves are picked during a specific time of the year and are processed to get this white thread. Nuns from this convent came from Pag in the 17th century when the lace-making tradition was more than 100 years old.
Lace as part of clothing is mostly used as ornament on shirts and as part of traditional Pag costume called “pokrivača”. Pag lace is successfully implemented as part of jewerly. The lace is used as decoration for bed linen and as part of church vesture. The most common way of displaying lace is to put an ornament on the table or hang it on the wall and this is common both for Pag and Lepoglava lace. In this way, the beauty of lace is the best presented.

Source: Ministry of Culture, Culturenet – Eckhel N., Ethnographic museum Zagreb, Paška čipka, Lepoglavska čipka, Tourist board Lepoglava, Tourist Board Hvar, Tourist Board Pag, Festival čipke Lepoglava

Photos: The Ethnographic Museum, Zagreb; The Museum of Varazdin; Paška čipka, Lepoglavska čipka, Tourist board Lepoglava, Tourist Board Hvar, Tourist Board Pag

Sunday, 12 December 2021

Croatian Railways' Lepoglava Junction Project to Boost Rail Connectivity

ZAGREB, 12 Dec 2021 - The HRK 4.4 billion (€586 million) project of the Lepoglava Rail Junction aimed at improving the railway connectivity of three northern counties -- Međimurje, Varaždin, and Krapina-Zagorje -- with the City of Zagreb has recently been presented in the city of Varaždin.

The purpose of the project is to boost the railway connections between key railway stations in central Europe and Zagreb, provide passengers with the shortest railway routes in the region, and offer fast and eco-friendly travel by rail.

Marko Car, an engineer of the Croatian Railways' HŽ Infrastruktura, said that the project envisaged the upgrade of 70 kilometers of the existing rail lines and the construction of an additional 20 kilometers of lines for the junction.

The implementation of the EU-funded project can take 20 years.

The selected 92-kilometer-long route, which includes nine railway stations and 17 train stops, and two tunnels, will make it possible for trains to develop a speed up to 120 kilometers per hour. 

The preparation of the necessary documentation will cost HRK 6.7 million (€890,000).

As much as 85% of the total project is being financed from the 2014-2020 Operational Program Competitiveness and Cohesion.

The study documentation has been drawn up by the consortium comprising ŽPD, Granova, Institut IGH, and Rijekaprojekt.

 For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Sunday, 5 September 2021

International Lace Festival to Take Place in Lepoglava on 10–12 September

ZAGREB, 5 Sept, 2021 - The 25th International Lace Festival will take place in the northern Croatian town of Lepoglava from 10 to 12 September, showing lace works from Croatia and 11 other countries.

"This year's festival will be a sort of retrospective of the past 25 festival years at which we will show visitors some of the finest examples of lace that have been displayed at our festival," Mayor Marijan Škvarić told a press conference earlier this week while announcing the event.

The festival will take place at the Pauline Monastery and on show will be examples of lace made in Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, France, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary, which is this year's partner country.

The programme includes a panel on the art of lacemaking and a fair of traditional handicrafts and old crafts.

Lepoglava lace was inscribed on UNESCO's intangible cultural heritage list in 2009.

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Friday, 17 July 2020

Lepoglava Wants to Change its Image, But in What Way?

As Darko Bicak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 16th of July, 2020, although Lepoglava developed as a religious and scientific centre from its very inception back during the Middle Ages, all the way up until the middle of the 19th century, the decision of the Austro-Hungarian authorities in 1854 was to turn a former monastery, which was a university for a long time, into a prison. That event is remembered and marked in this small, typically overlooked town in Varaždin County to this very day.

There is almost no significant Croatian politician in the past hundred years who has not been imprisoned in Lepoglava (which says a lot), the most famous among them are certainly Franjo Tudjman and Alojzije Stepinac.

As the Lepoglava Penitentiary is a large system, it has a significant impact on the economy of the town, due to the workshops within the prison, but also due to the rehabilitation of convicts put to work in the city before their release.

However, in the City of Lepoglava, they want to move away from such a view of their area and make strong efforts to make it a desirable place to invest, and thus create economic prosperity and a better life for its residents.

The central tool for this should be the Lepoglava Business Zone, which already sees the work of about ten companies with about 200 employees in total, and over recent days, the arrival of an Italian manufacturer of construction materials, Ediltec from Modena, Italy, which should start its styrofoam production in Lepoglava, has been announced.

As Hrvoje Kovac, the deputy mayor of Lepoglava, explainsed so far, the Italians, Turks, Germans and a couple of potential Croatian investors have come to the zone to examine the possibility of investing in Lepoglava.

''Potential investors were mostly looking at facilities that could be reactivated in an entrepreneurial sense. The last one who came to us has very serious intentions to turn the space of old Zagorjeplet into a production plant. The company Modil, based in Modena, which is engaged in the production of styrofoam, became the owner of the facility and, according to the executive director, next year, after the adaptation, they would start the production of styrofoam. If everything goes according to plan, it will mean the creation of new jobs and the employment of between 20 and 30 workers, from unskilled workers to workers with higher education. We hope that this time, the potential brownfield investment will be realised in full,'' said Kovac.

He added that the revitalisation of that "brownfield" part of the Lepoglava Business Zone would have a significant social and economic effect through new employment, but on the other hand it would also open the doors for potential new investors because the reference of the zone with a renowned investor from Italy, and with existing companies there, advantage could be taken in the sense of those looking for fully communally equipped land that is very competitively priced.

City grants and incentives…

''This brownfield investment in Lepoglava is a kind of economic flywheel of our local community and we're looking forward to it coming to fruition. The more jobs, the better things are for Lepoglava and those living there. The Lepoglava Business Zone has been systematically developing for many years and a lot of money and effort has been invested in it, so that today, it can offer potential investors communally fully equipped plots for immediate business start-ups. It covers 53.50 hectares of regulated land on which there are currently a dozen businesses employing 186 people. There are currently eight more plots available for new investments in the zone, for which we have a constantly open public call. The primary purpose of our zone is to attract investors from the production and service industry who could employ the local population,'' Kovac added.

He is also aware that Lepoglava is not immune to the challenges of the modern age that are coming to be as a result of the current global economic crisis.

"Small towns like Lepoglava always have a problem with the increasing departures of young people, with an aging population and with poorer transport connections, which is primarily seen in the weakening of economic activity. However, through various forms of support, incentives and involvement of the private and economic sector in planning the development of the local community, we try to respond to these challenges and offer various solutions to make Lepoglava economically active again and to work and live from it,'' he said, concluding that in Lepoglava, they no longer want to watch the departures of young families and Kovac believes that through such investments and a proactive approach to finding similar ones, they can respond to all challenges.

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Saturday, 14 September 2019

23rd Lace Festival in Lepoglava Opens with Spain as Partner Country

ZAGREB, September 14, 2019 - The 23rd International Lace Festival in Lepoglava opened on Friday, with "Magical Royal Lace" as the theme and Spain as the partner country.

The event, which closes on Sunday, features lace from 16 countries, including, for the first time, from Brazil, Venezuela and Puerto Rico, as well as from 11 lace centres in Croatia.

It was opened by Defence Ministry state secretary Zdravko Jakop as the envoy of President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, who bestowed the Croatian Charter on the festival for its outstanding contribution to the preservation of Lepoglava lace-making, which is part of UNESCO's Intangible Heritage, and for the successful promotion of Croatia's ethnographic tradition.

Saturday is Partner County Day and visitors can learn about Spain's culture, with emphasis on the flamenco.

Ambassador Alonso Dezcallar de Mazarredo said he was honoured Spain was this year's partner country, adding that Spanish lace whose history dates back to the 15th century would be shown.

Assistant Culture Minister Davor Trupković announced that a Lace-making Museum would be opened in Lepoglava, while Tourism Ministry secretary-general Ivo Basic said such festivals were important for tourism as they nurtured culture and diversity.

More news about festivals in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Celebrating Lace: 21st International Lepoglava Festival

Croatia has a variety of UNESCO heritage, and one intricate example will be celebrated for the 21st time on September 21, 2017, as the Lepoglava International Lace Festival takes place once again. 


Croatia has a variety of UNESCO heritage, and one intricate example will be celebrated for the 21st time on September 21, 2017, as the Lepoglava International Lace Festival takes place once again. 

Sunday, 20 August 2017

City Youth Policy: Cooperation Between Dubrovnik and Lepoglava

Dubrovnik and Lepoglava become closer in their aims.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

UNESCO Culture in Croatia: Lepoglava Lace Festival This Week

Part of Croatia's rich intangible UNESCO heritage will be celebrated in northern Croatia this week at the annual Lepoglava Lace Festival. 

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Exploring Croatia's UNESCO Heritage: the Lepoglava Lace Festival

Croatia has a proud lace-making tradition, inscribed as intangible UNESCO heritage. A visit to Lepoglava in Varazdin County, which hosts an international lace festival each September. 

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Innovative Varazdin: First Football Tournament on a Volcano Coming to Croatia?

TCN discovers an innovative tourism initiative from the Varazdin County Tourist Board on a visit to Lepoglava on April 17, 2016.