There are many different embroidery solutions and traditions in Hungary, the best known of which are Matyo and Kalocsa. This is why the two embroideries tend to confuse many, although the difference between them is considered to be heaven and earth.
We summarize below how true this is..
Matyo embroidery is one of the oldest types of embroidery in Hungary, dating back roughly 200 years. In terms of motifs, the most characteristic of it are the “heart rose”, the “tan-rose”, the “cipe” or shoe, the birds, the “matyo-rose”, the “buds”, the circles and the cat’s tail. Matyo embroidery spread in the area of Mezőkövesd, Szentistván and Tard, mostly in the northern part of the Great Plain. It peaked in the first decades of the 1900s, making perhaps the most spectacular pieces of matyo embroidery at this time. The Matyos worked with separate “writer-women” who pre-drew the patterns for them. The best-known representative was Bori Kisjankó, who later won the Master of Hungarian Folk Art award. For embroidery, black cloth or white linen, wool and pearl yarn were usually used. Initially, the motifs were sewn on a sheet edge and sleeve, with an extremely rich use of color, resulting in red, green, yellow, blue, black and purple, as well as their faint and more vibrant shades.
There is also a legend about the development of matyo embroidery. Once a matyo bachelor was kidnapped by the devil. The boy’s sweetheart rhymed a lot asking him to give him back to her, and the devil said, “You’ll get your love back if you bring the most beautiful flowers of summer in your apron!” She was in trouble as they were in the middle of winter. But in the end, she figured out how to fulfill the devil’s wish. She embroidered the beautiful roses of her garden on his apron and gave it the devil in exchange for her valentine.
Towards the end of the 19th century, women embroidered more and more motifs, so that the most famous was the peony, which was given a special name: it became the “matyo rose“, which became one of their characteristic motifs. The Matyó embroidery significantly feeds from the world of furrier embroidery. Later, in the case of the Matyos, the color red retains its dominance throughout, but the shades of green, blue, yellow, purple and pink play a greater role.
Today in Mezőkövesd, the Matyó Folk Art Association cherishes the traditions and peculiarities related to embroidery, thus this treasure of folk art has survived to this day.
Virtual tour in the Matyó Museum in Mezőkövesd
Embroidery in Kalocsa developed in the 1860s and has been documented since then, due to the fact that the first pre-press was opened in Kalocsa at that time. The so-called hole embroidery, which was pushed out with so-called bat sticks, was very popular in the area. Using the technique, rural peasant women mostly made traditional clothes for the city’s population using this method. Embroidered embellishments only appeared later on costumes, and thus on garments such as shirt shoulders. Writer-women usually prescribed or drawn Kalocsa patterns on the raw material in question with pens dipped in blue or purple paint. They were usually the daughters or wives of the carpenters of the time, who decorated the furniture painted blue with floral motifs. It is also due to this that the embroidery in Kalocsa is extremely intertwined with pinging.
At the end of the 19th century, embroidery in Kalocsa became more and more popular, so new techniques and style marks appeared. The old embroidery was still usually characterized by pure and white motifs, and then the embroidery was covered with colors, which was mainly due to the opening of the yarn factory in Nagyatád in 1912. At the same time, cheap and well-colored yarns, cotton, appeared. By the 1930s, all the embroidery and peasant girls’ clothes from Kalocsa were a real cavalcade of colors, and even the locals armed their yarns with special color names, so tulip red, flame color, wine color, goose green, envy yellow, swallow neck, wild pigeon blue and velvet blue came into the picture.
In terms of the world of motifs, the embroidery in Kalocsa was built significantly on the depiction of nature, mainly on floral motifs. Embroidery depicting a star flower, violet, tulip, carnation, bellflower, lilac, pansy, rose, rosebud, forget-me-not, red pepper, berries, and lily of the valley were typical. In addition, we can often see “eights”, vine heads, plum seeds, blackberries, wheat ears and catfish.
Perhaps the most striking is that while only red roses are depicted in the matyo embroidery, other colors often appear in the Kalocsa embroidery. In addition, the matyó embroidery will be always made after pre-drawing and developed from the furrier embroidery, Kalocsa Embroidery was established to meet the citizens’ needs, so often taught in courses, it’s a newer style of embroidery, often using modern templates and new techniques, and it can be reproduced by machine embroidery as well.