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Croatian toys exhibited at the Zagreb Ethnographic Museum 1 Dec 2012 - 31 May 2013
By Darko Žubrinić
Published on 12/3/2012
The Ethnographic Museum in Zagreb organized a very nice exhibition of Croatian toys, 1 Dec 2012 - 31 May 2013. The opening has been accompanied by a group of children, members of the Turopolje Folklore Ensemble, wearing fantastic national costumes from the region of Turopolje near Zagreb. Traditional manufacturing of children's wooden toys in Hrvatsko Zagorje, a region on the north of Croatia, has been inscribed in 2009 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

The World of Toys exhibition in Zagreb from 1 Dec 2012 to 31 May 2013

The World of Toys exhibited at the Ethnographic Museum in Zagreb from 1 Dec 2012 to 31 May 2013

Children from the town of Velika Gorica in Croatian national costumes from the Turopolje region near the city of Zagreb.
They are members of the Folkloni ansambl Turopolje (Turopolje Folklore Ensemble), directed by Mrs. Zlata Cundeković.

Solemn opening of the exhibition accompanied with children from Velika Gorica, dressed in fantastic Turopolje costumes

Made by children from Zagreb

Children's toys from Croatian heritage

Traditional manufacturing of children’s wooden toys in Hrvatsko Zagorje, Croatia, has been inscribed in 2009
on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Fantastic films about Croatian toys made by Mr. Žarko Nikin, Zagreb.
Those interested may order the films via Žarko Nikin's e-mail.

Meditating under the sky

Many thanks to Mrs. Ivana Car Postić for information about Folklorni ansambl Turopolje
(Turopolje Folklore Ensemble), from Velika Gorica near Zagreb.

Villagers along the pilgrimage route to the Marian shrine of Our Lady of the Snow in Marija Bistrica in Hrvatsko Zagorje in northern Croatia developed a technique for traditional manufacturing of children’s wooden toys that has now been handed down for generations. The men in a family take soft willow, lime, beech and maple wood from the region and dry, hew, cut and carve it using traditional tools; the women then apply ecologically-friendly paint in improvisational floral or geometric patterns, painting ‘from imagination’. The whistles, horses, cars, tiny furniture, spinning dancers, jumping horses and flapping birds produced today are almost identical to those made more than a century ago – though no two toys are precisely the same, thanks to the handcrafted production process.

Popular among both locals and tourists, these toys are sold in parish fairs, markets and specialty shops around the world. They have also evolved with the times and, in addition to the traditional shapes such as horses and carts, new ones representing cars, trucks, airplanes and trains have appeared, reflecting the world surrounding modern-day children. Tiny toy instruments, carefully tuned as they are created, still serve as important components in the musical education of rural children.


UNESCO: Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity - 2010

The tradition of gingerbread making appeared in certain European monasteries during the Middle Ages and came to Croatia where it became a craft. Gingerbread craftspeople, who also made honey and candles, worked in the area of Northern Croatia. The process of making gingerbread requires skill and speed. The recipe is the same for all makers, utilizing flour, sugar, water and baking soda -- plus the obligatory spices. The gingerbread is shaped into moulds, baked, dried and painted with edible colours. Each craftsperson decorates gingerbread in a specific way, often with pictures, small mirrors and verses or messages.

The gingerbread heart is the most common motif, and is frequently prepared for marriages, decorated with the newlyweds' names and wedding date. Each gingerbread maker operates within a certain area without interfering with that of another craftsperson. The craft has been passed on from one generation to another for centuries, initially to men, but now to both men and women. Gingerbread has become one of the most recognizable symbols of Croatian identity. Today, gingerbread makers are essential participants in local festivities, events and gatherings, providing the local people with a sense of identity and continuity.

Formated for CROWN by Darko Žubrinić
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