Friday, June 25, 2010

Serbia's Straw-Girls

Perhaps you remember Suzana Ilic who quilled the elegant monogrammed letters I featured here a few weeks ago. Recently Suzana emailed me about an unusual Serbian folk tradition she thought I might be interested in. It's a technique of weaving and shaping straws of wheat, cherished in a province called Vojvodina, where there is almost nothing as far as the eye can see, except flat plains with wheat, sunflowers, and just one mountain. Zetva by Ana Milodanovic, 1967

These folk artists call themselves straw-girls (slamarke). Suzana told me there is quite a bit of similarity between quilling and straw art. The straw-girls make intricate designs with straws of wheat that they cut and soak in water until flexible, and then create folded roses, tight coils, fringed flowers, and shapes such as teardrops, just as we do in quilling. (This puts complaints about cutting strips of paper into perspective!)The straw-girls decorate blown eggs and religious icons, and make jewelry. They also create scenes composed entirely of wheat straws, such as the first picture, that are so highly detailed they're considered a form of painting.

Suzana searched through her boxes of magazines to find more examples and came across an article written by Ljiljana Matejic-Vuckovic about Miriana Kirbus, a grand master in straw art, in the magazine called, Zenski Svet (Women's World) from August 26, 2005. These first two egg pictures are from the article.We found video excerpts of documentaries about this fascinating art - each is quite enjoyable to watch if you have a few minutes, and not to worry, there are English subtitles. The first was made by Branko Istvancic and is called Od zrna do slike, From Grain to Painting. The other is Boris Malagurski's Slamarke, Straw Art.
And one more image... these egg designs were created and posted by a member, Smizla, of a forum called samsvojmajstor.com or Do It Yourself... lovely!

11 comments:

Ann said...

fascinating and amazing. What lovely work.

Philippa said...

I'd never heard of this technique before, but it has made me stop and think: why limit ourselves just to quilling strips when nature provides such a wealth of natural materials?

SUGANTHI said...

Beautiful documentary, from grain to painting. So much details, variations and depth showm using just one colour.

ohbobbins said...

Those really are lovely. Oh btw, Vintage although classier, over here just seems to make it far more expensive. Some of this 'vintage' stuff is younger than we are, so what does that make us? I'd rather not think about that!

Angela said...

those are beautiful!

licia politis said...

How fantastic!!!
Licia

Sonya said...

Amazing what can be turned into a beautiful piece of artwork in the hands of a gifted artist!! Thank you for sharing such inspiring posts!

Stefani said...

Gorgeous!!

Anonymous said...

This is art of Croatian minority in Serbia femal artists in today's Vojvodina...

Anonymous said...

The Croatian minority in Serbia in the last years absolutely experienced the fact that culture depends on politics. From one side, from the aspect of the state, Croats in Vojvodina are good for obligations like paying Serbian taxes or for recruitment in the Serbian army, but not desirable when mentioning it as a new minority after ex Yugoslavia because of special rights. From the other hand, in the Croatian community, the culture strongly reflects the opposition of two sides: the Croatian political elite, and the Catholic Church. Luckily, the concept of culture includes also things like inspiration, creativity, imagination, which can also bring some valuable fruits.

Anonymous said...

Croatian female naive artists (Bunjevci) in the north of today's Vojvodina are something like forgotten miracle. The name "straw-girls" is derived from straw which weaving for making beautiful and poetic description of their hard and lonely minority life at home in immense Panonian golden plain far away of border of Croatian homeland in rest of the ex Yugoslavia. At the 1976 international exhibition of naive art in Moscow Ana Milodanovic won the gold medal with her work with straw weaving. Also, Kata Rogic had exceptional honour to present her work to Pope Paul the 6th in Vatican in 1964.

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