Author: Antonin Vaclavik (CzechFolks.com PLUS)
(Translated by Helena Kaczérová)
There are not many countries and nations in the world today which can still boast, of such rich folk art as that peculiar to Czechoslovakia and its peoples. Its immense wealth, endless variety of form, colors – sometimes bright, sometimes soft – its remarkablemony and fineness of work, have won for the art of the Czech and Slovak people the admiration of all who have met with it.
This admiration was directed first and foremost at decorated textiles. The brilliant costumes which blossom forth Sunday after Sunday on our village greens are unforgettably engraved in the minds of all who have seen them. Equally effective were the plain costumes of the ploughmen in their simple shirts and the reapers in their snow-white, loose-fitting hempen costumes, which today are giving way more and more to the blue overalls of tractor-drivers.
It has often been emphasized that the Czech and Slovak people have a special national gift for creating these gems of beauty, an instinctive feeling for harmony of color and form from which the splendor of their costumes and embroideries springs.
But it was not only an instinctive feeling which created this charming display. It was the result of long winter days and evenings in which mothers taught their daughters to spin, weave, embroider and name motifs, long hours during which the experience gained by patient search and trial was passed on from to generation. Here one sees traces of the long historical development of the Czechoslovak countries – this spiritual and commercial cross-roads of Europe – and of their peace-loving people. These showed their love for freedom and their high cultural level as long ago as the early Middle Ages, when they formed the Great Moravian Empire, embracing within its borders the larger of Central Europe. A number of routes crossed here, connecting the countries of the east with those of the west, the Mediterranean in the south with the Baltic in the north. Great Moravia maintained close relations with Byzantium, from which the Great Moravian prince Rostislav finally sent for „the men of the Slav tongue, Constantine and Methodius“, from Salonica, to preach Christianity. All this had its effect on the history of the country, rich in natural resources and further enhanced by the industriousness of its people. Its later history, too, is full of both glory and suffering: witness the famous Hussite period, when the Czech people showed the whole world the way to liberation from physical and mental slavery, and the Dark Age which followed the Battle of the White Mountain, when the people groaned under the unbearable burden of serfdom and spiritual imprisonment.
Along with the spirit of the people developed their art. The ornamentation of textiles is only one small part of the whole broad field of Czech and Slovak folk art, which in several regions of the country has been preserved in an unusual range and variety of forms and materials. Thus there are the representational toys, ornaments and various practical articles made from scraps of maize ears, straw, and mother-of-pearl; man techniques are known for decorating articles made of wood; the rich ornamentation of floors and village greens by pouring water or sprinkling sand by hand has been preserved, as well as the rich polychrome of exterior and interior folk architecture; pottery and textile art is also still alive.
None of these branches can be disregarded if we wish to understand folk textiles. Between the decoration of fabrics and all the varied fields of folk art mentioned above there is a close connection; the motifs pass from one field to another but are adapted to new material. Many elements are thus retained for a number of centuries, and some forms even have their origin far back in antiquity, when they were connected with magical, sacrificial, augural and other non-artistic applications.
Textile art consists mainly in fabrics, embroideries, laces, and various home-dyed and home-printed materials.
This book primarily deals with some representative types of embroidery, at the present time the most highly developed and best preserved branch of folk art in the country. And as we are chiefly concerned with embroidery as a form of artistic expression, we shall deal with the question of materials, colours, ornament and the genesis of some embroidered articlles, and with their makers.
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The present book of Univ. Prof. Antonín Václavík „Textile Folk Art“ is one of his historical significant books. This book is following achievement of his science books as Luhačovské Zálesí and Podunajská dědina.
Textile Folk Art is act of contribution on European Arts and for ethnic of Czech, Moravian and Silesian customs and habits.
The book has been issue by Publishing House Atelier IM Luhačovice by co-operation with Senator Mrs. Jana Juřenčáková.
Format of the book: A4 – 205 x 285 mm, Pages: 384 (32 pages in colour)
Celebrate in honour of this book was realized 2009 of October.
We are preparing the booklet of memories to Antonín Václavík. We claim his students to write theirs remembers on Antonín Václavík to the Publishing House Atelier IM Luhačovice.