By Brenda Longnecker Huber
It began as many great things do….with an idea in Johnny Morovich’s head. As Artistic Director of the Seattle Junior Tamburitzans (“SJT”), years ago Johnny had acquired five original 100+ year old costumes from Sveta Nedelja, northwestern Croatia.They were purchased from a woman who had originally bought them at the Dolac Market in Zagreb back in the 1970s.
This was the year he was going to teach SJT’s intermediate dancers a set of dances from Sveta Nedelja and be able to showcase these beautiful costumes. “There’s a necklace that goes with this costume,” he told me. Since I have had a creative beading habit for quite some time, I told him I would look into it. I googled “Sveta Nedelja necklace.” What I found would astound me.
Discovering the Kraluš
The Kraluš was so beautifully intricate…there was no way I would be able to visually figure it out on my own. After a deep dive into Pinterest, I came across some YouTube videos and a link to an online Kraluš course via Udemy, taught by Vesna Vurušić Pećanić, a native of Zagreb. I purchased the course, acquired the materials needed from her supply list, and began work on my very first Kraluš.
One week later I had this necklace to show to Johnny.
I also sent a picture of my first Kraluš to Vesna, thanking her for her course. We became Facebook friends and via messaging, I told her about my quest for the necklace to go with SJT’s Sveta Nedelja costumes. “You made a Samoborski Kraluš, on 12 strands,” she told me. “The Sveta Nedelja Kraluš is different, made on 8 strands.” I just made the wrong kraluš. We needed necklaces for five costumes, so next I set about figuring out the 8 strand version. One Saturday I was joined by Joanne Morovich Abdo and Julie Mustach, SJT parent, to work one getting these 8-strand Sveta Nedelja necklaces done.
The end result can be seen modeled by our SJT dancers on the 2019 Croatiafest poster.
The History of Kraluš, by Vesna Vurušić Pećanić
Kraluš is an intricate beaded necklace originally made and worn by the women of Samobor, northwestern Croatia, as part of their traditional folk costume in the early 20th century. Variations of this unique necklace became part of traditional folk costumes from across north and central Croatia, first in Sveta Nedleja, then further north in the villages of Bistra, and eventually east to the region of West Moslavina.
Originally, Samobor’s Kraluš was handcrafted using several thousands of tiny glass beads on 12 strands of hair from a horse’s tail. These strands were interwoven in a specific way to create geometric shapes, resembling fine lace.
Kraluš necklaces communicated a woman’s socioeconomic role in her community. A young woman would wear her first Kraluš on her wedding day. It was her mother’s role to make or purchase it for her. This first Kraluš was predominantly made out of red glass beads, representing femininity, youth, fertility, and even was believed to protect the young bride from evil. As a woman aged, she would wear a Kraluš with less red beads and more darker tones, usually brown in color. A widow would wear a less intricate Kraluš of blue beads.
Today the process of handcrafting Kraluš has officially been declared as Croatian Intangible Cultural Heritage by Croatia’s Ministry of Culture.
“The first time I saw a Kraluš necklace was in 2012,” Vesna told me. “A neighbor showed it to me and I remember being completely in awe of its beauty, wondering how I never knew such a treasure existed so close to Zagreb, my hometown.”
“I applied to a workshop at the Museum of Samobor in order to learn the handcrafting process, but had to wait a year and a half to get it.I had the privilege of learning this unique skill directly from one of the last living original creators of this necklace, Mrs. Dragica Račić. She was born and raised in Mala Jazbina, a village close to Samobor, and had learned the skill of crafting Kraluš as a young girl from the elderly women in her village. In 2000, the museum’s senior curator asked her to teach Kraluš at the Museum so the tradition could be passed down to new generations of Croatians, including me.”
Vesna offers her own Kraluš course globally through Udemy, and is offering a special discount link for Croatiafest 2019. We are excited to have her live for Croatiafest Skype sessions.
Here is the link:
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