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A distinctive region of embroidery art: the Matyo area

matyo girl dressThe Matyo area is located in the Northern part of Hungary. The region consists of three settlements, Mezökövesd (the centre) and two villages, Szentistván and Tard.

The word “Matyo” comes from the name “Mátyás” (legend says that King Mátyás gave Mezökövesd the title of “free royal town” in 1464) and was originally used by the population of the surrounding protestant villages to distinguish the catholic Matyo people from themselves.

The Matyo area is united and distinguished from the other settlements of the region by the colourful costumes, famous folklore art and lives tightly interwoven with traditions of the inhabitants. Mezökövesd earned its nationwide reputation based on its unique costumes and free-hand embroidery style. The rich and colourful motives were designed and sketched by so-called “writing” (i.e. drawing) women, who wove the various flowers of their gardens into their clothing.

matyo tableclothMatyo embroidery began to hit its prime in the 1860s and 1870s. This era brought the “festive room” to life, as houses were decorated with painted furniture, enamel plates, jars, bowls and high, richly decorated beds. The economic political and cultural background of that time all aided the development of an independent and forceful Matyo folklore art. After 1948 however, due to the dissolvement of independent farms and the aggressive industrialization of rural areas, the practice of folklore traditions almost died out. Nowadays, a revival process is currently underway, but, as in most parts of Hungary, the result is more of a staged performance of the traditions than a real revival in everyday life. Local museums give a detailed picture on Matyo life and customs, presenting the furnishing and the objects of a traditional Matyo home, the history of the famous embroidery and costumes displaying characteristic motifs.

The historic old centre of Mezökövesd has preserved the architecture and the atmosphere of the traditional Matyo village.

Besides the attractions related to the region’s distinctive folklore art, the town also offers a spa, an old church and events connected with winemaking.