KOSOVO FILIGRAN

The jewelry from Kosovo, known as filigran, made of silver and gold threads, weaved like spider web, is known among the masters of this craft around the world as the association of Kosovo-Metohija. Also standing out is the making of the fine Silk from Prizren, with interwoven golden strands, which was used to make traditional costumes. Technological progress has pushed the hand-made jewelry and utilitarian items in the southern Serbian province to the background, so the value of this craft that has a long tradition is even more pronounced. For that reason, older items are valuable part of the Serbian heritage.

In the first half of the 15th century, during the rule of despot Stefan Lazarevic, the ores of Kosovo mines were the foundation for the development of jewelry making in medieval Serbia. The biggest silver mine of the time in the Balkans was Novo Brdo, not far from Pristina, and ore had to it the traces of gold. The Trepca mine was also working, so Serbia was able to export great amounts of silver, via Dubrovnik traders, to other European countries. Earliest jewelers in Kosovo-Metohija had also come from Dubrovnik, and they taught the locals the skills of making jewelry, and the latter gave it their own personal mark, thus creating what is described in historical documents as the Serbian jewelry.

Main centers of this craft were Prizren, Pec, Djakovica, Pristina and Janjevo. It was characteristic of the jewelers from Kosovo that they were using mostly silver. For women they were making hair decorations, bracelets, earrings and rings, while for men they made silver ornaments for rifles, and later shirt buttons and massive chains for pocket watches. Throughout centuries, the jewelry offer was growing more and more diverse, so some museums still have precious tobacco boxes and utilitarian items for churches and households.

Over time, the shape and ornaments have changed, so instead of pearls and precious stones, semi-precious stones were used, especially agate. It was possible to say, from the looks of the jewelry, where the maker was from. For example, in Metohija the makers were mostly Albanians, in Pristina they were Serbs, while in Janjevo Catholics. The jewelry making in those two towns was under the influence of makers from Bitolj, in today’s Macedonia. With the arrival of Greeks and Aromanians from northern Greeks in the 18th century, the filigran from Prizren was revived. The silver was combined with mother-of-pearl, which made the jewelry very beautiful.

Along with filigran, the historians of art say that the embroidery from Kosmet also belongs among best creations. The materials used were wool, cotton, silver or golden strands. The golden embroidery was used for national costumes and featured geometrical or herbal motives, done by the special technique, perfected by the craftsmen called terzije. After the model of Byzantine fashion, the embroidery was discrete, only on the edges of the clothes, but still it was not uncommon to see the entire garments embroidered. Such decorations on the upper garments were typical of Balkan countries, among wealthy city or village dwellers. The golden embroidery on silk is considered by many to have been the most exquisite embroidery done in the south east Europe.