4th weavers’ colony in Stara Planina was organized from July 8-11 with the support of the cities of Pirot and Sombor and the embassies of Canada and the United States, as well as the international community. The colony has become a regular annual practice that offers an opportunity to improve knowledge and draw attention to the importance of preserving cultural heritage and economic empowerment of women. The aim of the weavers’ colonies is to preserve the kilims from Pirot and Stapar as a national brand that are used in state protocol as gifst for foreign officials.
This colony brought together skilled weavers from Sombor, Pancevo, Kladovo, Negotin, Bela Palanka, Sabac, Cacak, Krusevac, Leskovac, Indjija, Novi Pazar and Belgrade, who by participating in the colony are given the opportunity to improve their knowledge through lectures by ethnologists and design experts and to compete in the practical part in making pieces with motifs from Pirot kilims. The participants consider this opportunity to work in the colony as recognition for the weavers of Ethno Network who are given the opportunity to get to know the place where they are staying through organized tours and participation in the life of the local community. Slobodan Mitrovic, a promising young designer from Bela Palanka, skilled in weaving as a rising star of Ethno Network, also participated in this year’s colony.
The host of the colony was the local crafts coop “Damsko srce”, led by its director, Slavica Ciric, who is an example of dedication and high standards exerted throughly in preservation of kilim weaving in Serbia. The women gathered in the colony, as well as all the women from Ethno Network, do a very important job for the whole society as guardians of our tradition, authenticity and identity. The colonies are also a testament that tradition and heritage can be a pillar of local development, such as the examples of Pirot and Sombor that brand their communities through cultural, tourist and gastronomic offer.
Art contest organized annually within the colony contributes to the preservation of cultural heritage and helps children and youth as well as their families and teachers get better acquainted with the traditions of our country. The contest was aimed at children of preschool age, as well as high school and elementary school students and distinguished guests from the diplomatic corps awarded certificates to students whose works were rated as the best:
Jana Jovanović, kindergarten Crvenkapa
Dana Čolić, 2. grade, elementary school Vuk Karadžić
Tamara Todorović, 3. grade, elementary school Dušan Radović
Anđela Mladenović, 6. grade, elementary school 8.septembar
Đorđe Džonić, 6. grade, elementary school 8. Septembar
Participants, guests and diplomats found this program as extremely successful and interesting. Moreover, they expressed willingness to return to Pirot and said they would recommen the spot to all of their friends.
Hand-woven belt is a universal, traditional Serbian belt worn on men’s and women’s national costume throughout Serbia. Primary role of the belt is functional as it serves to attach the lower parts of the costumes around the waist –in men’s costume, it is attached to the pants, and in women’s for certain types of skirts and aprons. In traditional Serbian beliefs, the belt has a symbolic and protective meaning – with its bright colors and decorative patterns, to provide protection against evil spirits as guardian of the human soul and spiritual leader.
Caps are hand-knitted with the traditional geometric or floral motifs which are taken from nature or folk costumes. The motifs are made by knitting or embroidered by hand on a knitted cap. Caps and head covers used to represent an essential part of a national costume as a decorative and protective garment and a prominent element of clothing. Caps and gloves are made as a set, with each piece also available separately. Contemporary design trends produced a baggy cap with refined floral embroidery and pearls, gladly worn by youth.
Ethno socks make an indispensable element of Serbian folklore with a variety of ornamental compositions and rich in colors. These socks stand for the traditions of Eastern Serbia where these used to be worn as part of the national dress of the region. Nowadays, antique stockings are scarce in rural communities of Eastern Serbia and few women retained the masterful skill of knitting these works of art with five needles
Embroidered pillowcases featuring floral and geometric motifs used to make an integral part of a girl’s dowry. The elements of refined embroidery on white fabrics exude high style and class in the interior decorated with hand embroidered pillowcases. Pillows can make a memorable business or personal gift of authentic label of origin and a message of warmth and elegance.
Case with the motif of a traditional Serbian hand-woven belt, it is a refined blend of tradition and modern times. Its striking design follows modern trends, making it an original part of your accessory. Protective padding safeguards your laptop and, according to popular beliefs, coloring with distinctive pattern protects the bearer.
Cellphone case is a practical, usable item with the motif of a traditional Serbian hand-woven belt, one of the most recognizable elements of Serbian folk tradition. Available in a variety of patterns, colors and textures, the case makes an eye-catching fashion accessory that safeguards your cell phone from damage.
Hand-knitted woolen socks are the most authentic elements of traditional heritage that reminds us of the warmth of the family home and that people still gladly wear nowadays. Ethno Network artisans knit modern models, both short and long, or more traditional ones with pins on the toes and heel. Hand-made to be elastic so they cover more sizes, made of soft cotton and wool so do they do not scratch. Knitter by skilled hands with braids or smooth, floral and geometric motifs, ethno socks make an excellent traditional gift.
Pillowcases featuring motifs of a Pirot rug or roses characteristic of Vlach heritage of Eastern Serbia, decorated with golden tassels, used to make an integral part of a girl’s dowry. The elements of gold and velvet with refined embroidery on fabrics exude high style and class in the interior decorated with such pillows. Pillowcases can make a memorable business or personal gift of authentic label of origin and a message of warmth and elegance.
Ties are usually made of silk thread in the technique of weaving and knitting, with a discreet motif of a traditional Serbian belt. Most ties are single-colored with the elegance in the texture and pattern of knitting or weaving. Hand-made ties follow current trends in business fashion and make an exclusive business gift that is gladly worn by men and women alike.
Small woven bags decorated with embroidered brightly colored motifs taken from the national costume, or embellished with silver and golden shaded elements of Byzantine architecture, lined with satin discreetly with tassels at the edges. Bags are matched with a shawl or scarf, with each piece available separately. Remarkably classy and elegant, hand-crafted to reflect refined style as perfect choice for special occasions and striking accessory.
Practical, usable item made by the motif of a traditional hand-woven belt as a distinctive element of Serbian tradition, with hand-made woolen strap and a „ball“ that serves as a close button. Most often used for wine or rakija for the host in ceremonial occasions – wedding, slava day and baptizing. It is very decorative and is made in several models and sizes, gladly worn by youth as a unique long strap bag.
Colorful bookmarks are usually hand embroidered with floral motifs or hand-woven on a loom, with a motif of traditional Serbian belt that used to be worn both by men and women on a national costume. Bookmarks come across as a practical and symbolic gift for all those who are still fond of book reading as a vanishing tradition.
Ethno Network holiday and greeting cards are made from the finest cardboard with patches of embroidery, gold embroidery, crocheting or weaving. Cards containing a bookmark or a coaster, bring good wishes and a gift for the recipient. Cards with lacy snowflakes can be framed and make a decorative accessory for home or office. Envelopes match the quality and texture of the material of the greeting card.
Slippers are made by rolling natural wool color white, grey and brown, while the decorative details are made combining different colors of wool. Ethno Network felt slippers are regarded as healthy shoes made of natural wool, which is warming your feet in winter and cooling them in summer time as natural wool prevents sweating and has a beneficial effect on rheumatism. All slippers are equipped with a rubber lining that prevents sliding and wetting. Available in all sizes and models.
Hand-woven scarves with motifs of traditional Serbian belt come as a refined blend of our tradition and modern times. Discreetly designed in ethno style with motifs of Byzantium architecture and Serbian royalty to complement the outfit of any business person. Thanks to the ease of cotton and silk of which they are made, ethno scarves make the universal accessories for all occasions and seasons.
So-called shepherd`s bag with the hand-woven turtle motif or recognizable geometric shapes from hand-woven kilims. Available in different sizes and colors, in traditional lines and with contemporary design. Suitable for laptops or weight carrying thanks to the durable strap embellished with woolen tassels on the edges and lined with satin on the inside.
Apron is a traditional item of clothing in women`s folk costume across all of Serbia. Worn over a skirt, made of different materials - homemade hemp cloth, cotton and silk cloth, wool, velvet. Woven woolen aprons were worn in combination with a vest usually made of black plush, with rich ornaments and stripes with woven ornaments, or floral motifs. Ethno network aprons, in addition to floral motifs, also have jovial messages seen in embroidered linen that used to be posted above the stove, often to praise the cook.
Alphabet was used as a ”beginner’s piece” (a sampler for needlework beginners) and a tool used to spread literacy among the population. The roots of gold-thread embroidery date back to Byzantium when gold and silver-thread embroidery was a privilege of the rich citizens and clergy. In the medieval Serbian state, court uniforms were made of silk and velvet with gold-thread embroidery. With time, ceremonial clothing of the citizenship was also adorned with golden embroidery. Framed Cyrillic alphabet is a refined symbol of Serbian history and culture.
Miniatures represent a fine form of geometric or floral motifs that can be delivered in various art techniques. Ethno Network miniatures are made by skilled artisans in near forgotten techniques as exhibits from the juried exhibition of miniatures called `100 women - 100 miniatures`. Miniatures come across as picturesque tales portraying different parts of Serbia, blurring the fine line between traditional and modern, art and craft, individual and collective, and reviving the spirit of fading traditions.
Embroidered towels used to carry a symbolical feature in all ceremonial events. Towels used to make an essential part of a bride’s dowry, and the most beautiful and precious ones were given to significant guests as a symbol social status of an individual. As an everyday object, its most widespread function was wiping of body and covering dishes. Towels were decorated with woven or lace-embroidered patterns placed at the narrow side, capturing the delicate beauty of embroiders’ work.
Round and square mats are made by hand-rubbing soap and warm water into natural wool. Historically, people used to make felted tents, mattresses, clothing, footwear, toys and decorative items that reflected family wealth and the number of sheep they possessed. Felting has existed in all nations, especially in mountain areas. In addition to flowers and geometry, motifs in felted mats are taken from the decorative shapes of the monastery of Hilandar.
Hand-woven pieces for the chairs and table are very practical details that add warmth to the business premises or home interior, as an authentic element of Serbian tradition depicted in motifs from authentic Pirot and Stapar kilims. Mats come in different designs, sizes and motifs so they can fit into any space. They are packed in boxes, individually or in a set of two or more.
Felt balls are considered to be the oldest toys that children used to make by hand-rolling animal hairs, usually with a desire to fill the time and entertain themselves while watching over cattle. Felt balls are made by Ethno Network by the traditional method of hand-rolling of wool and making balls of different sizes, with various designs, some containing rice in the middle that produce a pleasant rattling noise as the ball is rolling. It can be a Christmas tree ornament.
Coasters are hand-woven with intricate geometric designs. Available in a variety of designs and colors, different textures, with longer and shorter fringe, and most demanding ones make little pieces of art. They come packed separately or as a set of six pads and make a colorful detail in your office or home as a usable object – coaster under your mug.
Felt balls are considered to be the oldest toys that children used to make by hand-rolling animal hairs, usually with a desire to fill the time and entertain themselves while watching over cattle. Felt balls are made by Ethno Network by the traditional method of hand-rolling of wool and making balls of different sizes, with various designs, some containing rice in the middle that produce a pleasant rattling noise as the ball is rolling. Large balls are used as interior decoration and a unique gift with motifs of a sleeveless overcoat or Solomon’s knot.
Rug and place-mats with geometric patterns and motifs of a so-called turtle is a distinctive brand of Serbia. They are made in the demanding technique of pattern weaving to provide warmth and refine your home or office space. Each pattern on a rug is a symbol and these pieces in addition to being traditionally made in bright colors, are woven by Ethno Network artisans in a monochrome version in naturally colored wool - black, brown and white.
Case with the motif of a traditional Serbian hand-woven belt, it is a refined accessory tailored to modern trends. Protective padding safeguards your laptop, with distinctive pattern making the case a practical and eye-catching accessory.
Tablecloths are commonly made of flax, hemp or cotton with floral and geometric motifs in embroidery. They are commonly decorated with lace-embroidered patterns along the sides, capturing the creativity and art of embroiders’ work. Embroidered tablecloths made an essential part of a bride’s dowry, and nowadays they bring warmth and playfulness to your home and contribute to the family and festive atmosphere.
Felted or hand-woven on a loom, with floral motifs or a pattern of a traditional Serbian belt, brightly-colored to protect the holder from evil-eye. Practically designed to accentuate your style as a fashion accessory matching your clothes or finders key ring slipped over the edge of your bag. Soft to touch, helps quickly dig out the keys on the bottom of the purse.
A useful item with a motif of traditional Serbian belt, bright colors and various patterns, to safeguard your documents and valuables when traveling. Hand-woven, with discreet tassels and satin aroung the edges. Practically designed for storing documents, as an indispensable part on your trips or daily routine as eye-catching accessory.
Contemporary designed, with a symbolic touch of the past and folk tradition. With its vibrant colors and decorative patterns, Serbian hand-woven belt in national customs keeps harm away from your home, office and you on the road, including your documents. It is a practical and effective everyday accessory.
Eye-catching hand-woven bracelets with motifs of a traditional belt, come across as a stylish detail that follows modern trends. Fine weaving pattern with silver elements and metal buckle, makes a unique fashion statement as a practical and effective accessory for festive occasions and everyday wear.
Jelek is a short, sleeveless top garment, waist-length, worn over a shirt. It is made of black or white cloth, cotton fabric, plush or choj and decorated with golden embroidery, ribbons and cords. Buckle is placed under the breast to highlight the beauty of torso. Shorter jelek with longitudinal woven lines, with heart-like cut, is worn in summer. Ethno Network artisans make stylized version that represent a contemporary fashion piece in men`s and women`s clothing.
Ethno Network artisans knit ethno gloves of all kinds – five finger, mittens, fingerless, lacy and wrist length. Quite unique are men’s gloves from Eastern Serbia that have an embroidered ring on the ring finger and ball tassels on wrist strings to tie the gloves together. It is not so widely known that men once knitted work mittens with two thumbs, one on each side of the mitten - when it “wore out” on one side, they would turn the worn palm up and keep using the mitten.
Monogram is a framed letter of Cyrillic or Latin alphabet made in the technique or embroidery or gold embroidery on a traditional white cloth. Girls and women used to embroider flowers on handwoven fabric and garments as dowry for their wedding ceremony. Ethno Network monogram embroidered by hand and in gold thread come across as a refined detail and a personalized token of appreciation.
Seating cushions featuring stylized, hand-woven ornaments of Serbian kilims as a visual symbol of the country, blending craftsmanship with a unique form of storytelling. Geometric and vegetal patterns on the kilim are said to have magical meanings.