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Located in northeastern Hungary near the historic city of Eger, the small town of Mezok÷vesd is famous for it's folk art and unique cultural traditions. The people of Mezok÷vesd and its neighboring villages are known as the Matyˇ, a nickname whose origins is unclear but may related to the great Hungarian King Matyas. The Matyˇ were known as a hard-working agricultural people, and for their strong Catholic faith. They became famous at the end of the 19th century for their elaborate folk costumes, intricately embroidered textiles, and colorful painted wooden furniture.

embroidery on bedsheet, Matyˇ Museum, Mezokovesd, Hungary


There are two distinct types of Matyo embroidery:  that done on white background fabric and that done on black.  The former, worked on hemp or linen fabric, was used for bed linens and clothing.  The earliest known Matyo embroideries were the borders of bedsheets from the mid-1800's, done in red and blue cotton thread.  Motifs included stylized boots and birds, as well as flowers and spirals.  Embroidery also started to appear on folk costumes in the 1870's, replacing the earlier simple geometric cross-stitch designs.  The young men's exaggerated long shirt sleeves were first decorated with white eyelets, and later embroidered with predominantly red leaves and flowers.  Shirts worn by bridegrooms were especially festive, with extremely wide and long embroidered cuffs. Yellow and green were the next colors to be added, and additional colors later still.  Today's embroidery is done mainly in satin stitch, but in the past a wider variety of stitches was used, including chain stitch and the distinctive Matyo "figure 8" stitch. 

Embroidery on black fabric was primarily done for the apron, or "surc", which was part of the folk costume for both young men and women.  Many of the motifs used in this type of Matyo embroidery were taken from the work of szur-makers and furriers.  (The "cifraszur" or embroidered frieze coat was an important element of Hungarian men's national costume, while the master furriers made appliqued and embroidered sheepskin coats and waistcoats often worn by women.)  The stylized roses and tulips commonly seen in Matyo embroidery were originally used by these master craftsmen.  The aprons were made of black satin or silk, and the embroidery was often arranged in rows, with little background showing between motifs.  This type of work is often called "szucsos" embroidery, in reference to the furriers, called "szucs" masters. 

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