Zmijanje Embroidery

Posted on February 13, 2023

Zmijanjski vez is a special technique practiced by women on Zmijanj, a plateau near Banja Luka in Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is used to decorate women’s clothing and household items, including wedding dresses, scarves, dresses and bedding.
The blue threads on the white cloth are the basis of the snake embroidery. The material on which the art of making snake embroidery was shown was undergoing a transformation, but the embroidery still retained its authentic specificities. First, it was embroidered on hemp and linen fabrics, then on cotton, and today this embroidery is also presented on modern industrial fabrics. Crosses are made with a needle, which are joined into various geometric shapes. The wealth of patterns and shapes, from the native cross, apple and branch, flowers and other shapes represent a real treasury of expressions and meanings: happiness in the family, good health, healthy offspring and the like. The girls from Zmijanje decorated their costumes with as rich an embroidery as possible, to show that they were ready for marriage.

The most common ornaments that prevail in the snake connection are stylized plant forms with a regular and symmetrical geometric base. The motif of the diamond-shaped wheel is most often seen in the snake connection. There is a large number of combinations of cars with smaller motifs. The wheel symbolizes the sky, circular movement, it is one of the symbols of the deity. The rhombus is also a female symbol that signifies female sexuality and fertility. The symbolism of the ornament, which the Serbian people call a circle, is an image of life and the world as an eternal movement, conditioned by the harmonized cosmic rhythm of opposites. Embroidery contains strong symbolism that is passed down through generations, and promotes creativity, social equality and diversity.
In 2014, Zmijanjski vez was included in the representative UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage and thus became a world heritage.

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