Zmijanje embroidery


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Inscribed in 2014 (9.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© 2013 by Museum of Republic of Srpska

Zmijanje embroidery is a specific technique practised by the women of Zmijanje villages in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Traditionally, Zmijanje embroidery is used to decorate female costumes and household items, including wedding dresses, scarves, garments and bed linen. The main characteristic is the use of a deep blue thread, handmade with vegetable dyes, to embroider improvised geometrical shapes. The richness and variations of the embroidered designs determine the social status of the village women. Embroidery is usually performed among groups of women, who engage in needlework while singing and chatting. Each embroiderer adapts and reinvents the required knowledge and skills, as part of the process of transmission. The knowledge is conveyed orally and through practical work, mostly in formal educational environments. Students learn by watching experienced embroiderers combine pre-determined elements into numerous variations, and through regular and continuous practice. Zmijanje embroidery incorporates respect for diversity, creativity and non-verbal communication. It also has a sentimental and emotional value particularly for displaced populations, who use embroidered garments as an expression of national and local identity and pride. Embroidery ties together many elements of cultural heritage, such as music, rituals, oral traditions, handicrafts and symbolic expressions.