Kalocsa was founded by Hungary’s first King, St. Stephen. It is located in the southern part of the Great Hungarian Plain. Throughout the centuries its inhabitants have fought many occupations. Its small thatched houses had to suffer the frequent floods of the Danube. The drainage of backwaters and marshes, the regulation of the Danube was begun in the middle of the 19th century.
The folk art of Kalocsa represents a peculiar color in the splendid bunch of flowers of Hungarian folk art. Not only has it a rich past, but it is still living, flourishing, developing richly and brilliantly. A magnificent folk art has developed in Kalocsa and its region concentrated in the town itself. From here did it become spread to the neighboring villages: Öregcsertö, Szakmár, Homokmégy, Drágszél and farms belonging to them.
The embroidery of Kalocsa belongs to folk embroidery groups which uses freehand drawings and mixed style of stitching. This also means that in its peculiar style it is not bound to any form, color or stitching technique. Even amongst the rhythmically repeated motifs we can find variations. The character of the original folk embroidery of Kalocsa is, that in drawing and in color the same motifs twice can’t appear. There is no well known folk artist in Kalocsa who will repeat exactly a motif. If on an embroidery of Kalocsa the pattern is symmetrical and the motif repeats itself it is not an original folk art. Even if a pattern looks symmetrical at first glance, when examined in details one can see differences in the drawing and colors of the pattern as the picture below shows it clearly.
It is impossible to count the motives used in the folk art of Kalocsa because of the countless variations, but Veronika Kákonyi, of Szakmár, collected 529 basic motif.
Wall painting (Pingálás)
Wall-painting is done with simple paint in pulverized form mixed with milk. The art of wall-painting can be found in Hungary only in Kalocsa and its region. According to contemporary descriptions the women decorated the upper part of the whitewashed walls of rooms and kitchens with streaks in many colors and painted colorful flowers on them. Also the oven made of mud and whitewashed was richly decorated. Similar decorations were applied under the eves too. At first, they painted plain tiny floral design on this streaks, later the decorated surface grew in dimension and the motives became richer. The oldest and most favored decorations are the rose and tulip, but beside them also many other flowers appear in the brilliantly painted wreathes — the lily, pansy, forget-me-not, carnation, snapdragon, foxglove, lilac, poppy, cornflower, black locust blossom, rosemary etc.– and even the birds appear. The rich decorative art of the painting women has no match of its kind.
They like fiery and brilliant colors. The women of Kalocsa paint without any preliminary sketch, with steady hand and inexhaustible imagination the most wonderful flowers on the wall, and their art – which is one of the most beautiful sprout of woman’s artistry – attracts many admirers.