The vast and deep well of Hungarian folk heritage is formed by incredible amounts of arts and traditions. Embroidery is one of the most important ingredients to our unique folk heritage and it is loved and encouraged by local and foreign people alike.
The art of embroidery was part of Hungary’s culture from the very beginning. The first known usage of this technique was on the robe and the chasubles for the coronation ceremony of our first king, St. Stephen. In the middle ages, men of sewing guilds became acquainted with stitch patterns of foreign countries during their travels. The motifs of Italy, Persia and Turkey were mixed with ancient Hungarian techniques and created a unique treasure, the Hungarian traditional embroidery. Popular motifs of the time were the tree of life, the pomegranate, the tulip and the “csodaszarvas”, a Hungarian mythical animal, a magical stag. The real development of folk embroidery began after the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century, due to the increased accessibility to colour paints and yarns. Hungarian queen, Maria Theresa was a leading figure in spreading the art of embroidery among the common people, when she made it a compulsory subject in elementary schools around the country. This art form was mostly used to decorate various clothing and home equipment, like tablecloths and bedclothes. Canvas embroidery is one of the most special and individual Hungarian folk art, due to it not being practiced by professional craftsmen. Embroidery is the art of women in villages, which they perform in their own homes, as a form of leisure and it is meant to embellish the insides of the houses. What makes these arts truly special, one of a kind and personal, is that they are made with pure love and devotion. Over the years, different embroidery techniques have developed in various regions of Hungary, creating the unique and popular look of the traditional Hungarian needlework that is known today. The most important types of embroidery includes “kalocsai” from the town of Kalocsa on the southern part of Hungary, “kalotaszegi” from Transylvania in the Kalotaszeg region and the most famous of all, the “matyó” from the Great Hungarian Plains, which looks back on a 200 years old tradition.
Hungarian needlework is a highly important tradition in this country and it is an art form that should be preserved and practiced, it should not be forgotten. Traditional embroidery is gaining more and more popular attention nowadays as even the younger generations have started to realise its potentials and wear Hungarian traditional motifs for fashion. You can witness this unique art form on the beautifully adorned, handmade clothing of folk dancers on our Folklore Performances.