Pag island is known for three bastions of tradition: cheese, salt, and lace. We’ll leave the first two for some other occasion and focus on amazing handcrafted creations that are being honoured this weekend at the 8th International Lace Festival in Pag town.
The island’s skillful lace makers have been coming up with mindblowing intricate designs for hundreds of years; the first mention of lace on Pag dates back to the 15th century when the decorative pieces were first made part of the local folk costumes. Even a casual glance at the delicate patterns instantly makes you admire the craft, as some of the pieces require more than 500 hours of work and take the lace makers on a journey of unimaginable 500.000 stitches. When you imagine the level of patience and dedication required to finish just one piece of embroidery, it seems unfair to call lace-making a craft – it’s a complex, astonishing form of art.
Other than Pag, there are two more major lace-making focal points in Croatia: Hvar and Lepoglava. As Croatian lacework was inscribed in the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009, an international lace festival was launched on Pag in 2010 to celebrate this unique segment of local tradition. This year, the 8th edition of the festival takes place from June 23 to 25, organised by Pag Tourist Board, the Town of Pag and the Lace-Makers Society ‘Frane Budak’. The impressive programme includes concerts, fashion shows, lectures, workshops and multiple exhibitions, and is conducted under the high patronage of the president of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović.
It’s the first time the festival has a partner country: Slovenia, chosen due to the long-running collaboration of Pag’s and Slovenian lace-makers associations. To honour the guests, Slovenian lace is put on display in the church of St. Juraj. The visitors will also have a rare chance to see lacework coming from Japan, another first for the festival – two Japanese lace makers are coming to showcase their designs.
If you have a chance to visit Pag this weekend, make sure to use the opportunity to admire the wonderful work of Pag’s lace makers and participate in some of the activities. If you don’t make it in time, the Lace Museum in the Rector’s Palace is always there to present you with masterpieces of this renowned local tradition.