The Plant World and Traditional Serbian Textile Handiwork

Folkloristics 7/1 (2022): 111-123
Author: Marina Cvetković

In the traditional Serbian textile handiwork, the plants had a very prominent and important role. Raw plant fiber, mostly hemp, but flax and cotton as well, accounted for a significant share in the rural textile inventory. Majority of the individual items for household furnishings and basic gowns of folk costumes were woven of hemp fiber. Consequently, hemp and flax had many symbolic meanings and also had a remarkable place in the belief system and ritual practice.

In traditional textile fabrication, colors represent one of the basic artistic elements. Natural dyeing techniques were based on specific knowledge and skills as well as centuries of experience. A very large number of diverse plants were used to obtain natural dyes. Some of them, those considered basic for the dyeing process, had numerous meanings and symbolism, often correlated with the semantics of colors itself. All of the above reveals the abundant tradition of Serbian culture which has, in specific socio-historical frameworks, through a constant dynamic relationship between man and nature, been built for centuries.

Keywords: traditional textile handiwork, hemp, flax, herbal textile dying.