Hungarian Embroidery and Fancy Needlework

The exhibition began February 1, 1997, and was extended through March 15, 1997


This exhibition of antique Hungarian embroidery and needlework covered all regions of Hungary, with noble house and peasant embroidery, and included dresses, gowns, pillowcases, tablecloths, wall coverings, towels, handkerchiefs, aprons, vest, jackets, headdresses and much, much more!

On the tapestry of embroidery, the Hungarian embroideries stand out with their beauty,rich colors, and harmonious designs. They vary from the simple to the majestic to the delicate and fanciful. They come from the depth of the Hungarian soul. With roots in a glorious past as wellas incenturies of wars and adversities, the beauty and nobility of the people’s spirit manifests itself through these gems of folk art. Just as the pearl that comes in many colors, shapes, and forms,Hungarian embroidery shows an endless variety in its designs andtechniques. We carefully selected a treasure chest from available sources and would like to share the contents with you. (From Hungarian Embroideries by K. Kristó-Nagy and M. Nagy-Jara).

The exhibition featured noble house as well as peasant embroideries. It also included examples of appliques, “szür” and embroideries on leather, cross stitch embroideries and needle lace. Several examples dated from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Examples included a bride and bridegroom in the folk dress of the Kazár region as well as several adaptations of ladies court attire (díszmagyar).

One section of the exhibition was devoted to descriptions and illustrations of the various stitches (fifty-two) of Hungarian embroidery. Maria Undi indicates (in Hungarian Fancy Needlework and Weaving) that certain stitches were used with certain designs, and that the beauty of the embroidery depends not only upon the composition of the drawing, but also upon the actual stitches used to carry out the composition. There is also a special balance between coloring and stitches in Hungarian embroidery: whenever many colors are in evidence, only a few and relatively simple stitches are utilized in the design. But when only a few colors or only one color are in evidence, a great variety of stitches are used. Therefore, the beauty of Hungarian embroidery is found in its design, its color combinations and its use of decorative stitches.

The particular combination of these elements of designs, color and stitch are determined by the region from which the embroidery originates; and therefore embroideries are named after the geographical region from which they derive. These regional embroideries are usually divided into four basic groups: the Northern Upland group (which comprises the Palóc and Matyó regions), the Great-Plains group (which include Ecser, Kalocsa, and Hódmezövásárhely as well as the Kunság regions); the Transdanubian group (which includes Hövej, Buzsák and Göcsej as well as the Rábaköz, Sárköz, and Drávaszög regions); and the Transylvanian group (which
includes Torockó as well as as the Kalotaszeg, Mezöség and Székely regions). Visitors to the exhibition were presented with beautiful examples of the embroidery and needlework of all these regions.

It has been said that the art of Hungarian embroidery stands out not only as a crystallization of beauty and harmony but also as a statement of a centuries long endurance for survival. It has been not only a joyful art but also a quiet tool to carry on in difficult times with grace and dignity. The largest number and most opulent pieces of embroidery were often produced during Hungary’s most adverse periods. (From an article in the REVIEW of the CHH Society by Dr. Magdolna Mészáros)

Message from the “Embroideries Exhibition” Director
Director and Committee Head: Andrew Lázár

“In the name of the Cleveland Hungarian Heritage Society, I wish thank Rev. Alex Demetzky, Zsolt Gregora, Albertina Halácsy, Katalin Horváth and Edith Molnár for their wonderful cooperation and help in obtaining items of needlework from numerous sources for his exhibition, and also for loaning items from their own private collections.

I also want to acknowledge the loan of a beautifully carved bench and cradle (bölcsö) made by Mary and Andrew Temesváry. I thank Anna Lázár for loaning many pieces of furniture which served as “props” to set off items in this exhibition.

Finally I wish to acknowledge with great appreciation, the wonderful collaborative efforts of Katalin Horváth and Andrea Lázár in setting up this fine exhibition. It was through the unselfish sacrifices of their time and effort that the wonderful embroidery items were so tastefully and artfully displayed. In addition, Katalin Horváth’s extensive knowledge of Hungarian needlework and embroidery has been of inestimable importance inidentifying and cataloging the items used in this exhibition. . .

. . . I hope that everyone who came and saw the embroidery exhibition left with a little more knowledge and a deeper appreciation for the many wonderful, colorful, and artistic forms of Hungarian embroidery.”
(From an article in the REVIEW of the CHH Society)

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