In the history of Croatia, the production of bobbin lace is related to the north-eastern part of the Pannonian area, primarily to the regions of Podravina, Međimurje and Hrvatsko zagorje, where the tradition was carried on from Western Europe. One of the main centres of bobbin lace, which remained active in lacemaking to the present day, is certainly the town of Lepoglava.

LEPOGLAVA was inhabited as early as in prehistoric and Roman times. The town is known by Paulists and their monastery, which was founded in 1400 and soon became a nursery of cultural, educational and scientific activity. The Paulist seminar, established in 1503., soon developed into a middle school and later on in 1656. finally into a faculty of arts, science and theology. By a special decree of Leopold I and Pope Clement X, the Paulists obtained the right to award doctoral titles. Lepoglava was thus promoted to the status of the first Croatian university. The Paulists were active in many areas: they promoted education, art and culture in general. Famous Paulines include the linguist Ivan Belostenec and the painter Ivan Ranger. Today, Lepoglava and the surrounding villages have a population of about 4,000, predominantly occupied with agriculture and employed at small industrial plants.


LEPOGLAVA BOBBIN LACE

It is generally believed that the art of making bobbin lace was brought to Lepoglava by Paulist monks in the 1400’s and was also supported by local aristocracy. The lacemaking craft was eventually adopted by peasant women, who made narrow strips from coarse linen thread used as trimming on white linen costumes. The Paulists organized the production of lace for church vestments and furnishings, which lasted until the dissolution of the order in 1786. Later, the skill of making Lepoglava lace became a regular source of additional income, as local women began to sell the lace at fairs.


Government institutions also organized lace production in schools, courses and workshops, where the traditional Lepoglava lace was given a new purpose: it was made into doilies, fashion details or lace yardage and used exclusively by the bourgeois class of the time. Lacemaking in Lepoglava has survived to the present day thanks to the activity of the lace school (Banovinska čipkarska škola) in the first half of the 20th century. The most prominent lace teacher of the school was Danica Brössler, who introduced features of the best European laces to the curriculum. She also created lace designs using ornamental elements of traditional textiles from all over Croatia, giving Lepoglava lace a distinctive character in the context of European laces of the time. Even after the school closed down, many lacemakers continued to produce lace and the lacemaking skill continued to be passed on from generation to generation.


The Lepoglava bobbin lace is made on a tube-like hard pillow, resting in a wicker basket, and small wooden sticks – bobbins – around which white or ecru coloured thread is wound. The bobbins, always an even number of them, are interwoven in certain ways, filling the inside of the pattern that is fixed with pins onto the pillow. The surface of the motive is always worked as interplay of fabrics of varying density. The most common motives are geometrical or stylized plant or animal motives: stazica (path), pužić (snail), frkač (curl), kiflek (crescent), tulipan (tulip), ruža (rose), makova ruža (poppy rose), ružin list (rose leaf), hrastov list (oak leaf), cvjetić (flower), cvjetić s listom i peteljkom (flower with a leaf and petal), žir (acorn), grozdek (cluster of grapes), loza (grapevine), djeteline (cloverleaves), leptir (butterfly), ptica (bird), purek (turkey), orao (eagle)...


The combination of identical or various motives is connected by a net filling, which also appears in several combinations: mrežica (net), mrežica s petljicom (net with eyelet), paučina (cobweb), saće (honey-comb), saće s listićima (honey-comb with leaves), kosa mrežica (slanted net), šahovnica (chequerboard)...

Although the most skilled lacemakers in Lepoglava are elderly women, efforts are being made to keep the tradition alive. Positive steps in this direction are lacemaking courses in the primary school, the founding of the Danica Brössler Lace-makers’ Society, the organization of the International Lacemaking Festival as well as the activities of the Lepoglava Lace Cooperative. Each of these efforts has, in its own way, contributed to the preservation of the tradition and the promotion of the Lepoglava lace in Croatia and abroad. The Lepoglava lace has been recognized and protected as an Original Product of Croatia.

 

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