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Konavle County Museum and folk dances

Konavle County Museum is a small museum that finds its place, as its name suggests, in the southernmost part of Croatia – Konavle. This area with almost untouched natural beauty is located near the world-famous historic city of Dubrovnik. Konavle consists of the fertile Konavle field (Konavle in the narrow sense), a low coastal ridge and the inner higher limestone area, and they also include uninhabited islands in front of Cavtat. The area was named after the Latin term cannabula which means a ditch for draining the land. We have to admit that the name is much nicer than its meaning…

Konavle County Museum
Konavle County Museum

Our visit to Konavle would not be complete if we didn’t go to the Konavle County Museum and have the opportunity to attend folk dances performed next to the local church in Čilipi every Sunday around 11 p.m.

The morning began with Holy Mass and folk dances

Our day started with a delicious breakfast in the company of friends who kindly invited us to spend a few days in their house. We were immensely grateful to them because it meant that this year we would go to the sea paying only for the trip and some coffee and lunch. Since the house of our friends is located in one of the many small villages in Konavle, we had the opportunity to get to know the daily life of Konavle people. Unlike the big city we come from and where something is constantly happening, everything is fast and… for the lack of better word – nervous, in this village everything is so peaceful. Every morning, and even today, we woke up completely calm and ready for new adventures.

Calmness in Konavle
Calmness in Konavle

After breakfast and coffee on their beautiful stone terrace overlooking the whole place, our friends told us that today, since it is Sunday, we will first go to Holy Mass, after which we will have the opportunity to see traditional folk dances. We must say that we were very happy because we have never attended the folklore of this area.

We must not forget to mention that our friends are an old Konavle family and during our time with them we had the opportunity to see traditional clothes that have been passed down from generation to generation. Grandma showed us all the treasures kept in chests and we had the opportunity to see the original folk costumes, blankets, tablecloths, bags and similar items of great value. Grandma also told us an interesting story from her life. Namely, whenever she leaves the house she carries a traditional handmade bag with her. On one occasion in the city, she was approached by a man who offered a large sum of money to buy her bag. Grandma turned him down, to which he offered even more money. Grandma told us that they had been negotiating for some time and the man was willing to give her an incredible amount of money to buy the bag, but she still could not give it up because the bag was always part of her identity.

Folk costume of Konavle
Folk costume of Konavle

After spending time with their grandmother, we went to Mass, which did not last very long. Since we were sitting outside and the Mass was held in front of the Church of St. Nikola in Čilipi, it was a wonderful experience. As it is a smaller place, there were not too many people at the mass and everyone had a place to sit, so everything was more than comfortable.

Folk dance
Folk dance

Mass was followed by dances. As this was our first time at an event like this, we watched closely everything that was happening in the square in front of the church. We were soon able to see people in traditional costumes same as ones we had the opportunity to see when we talked to our friends ’grandmother. Before the start of any of the dances, the host in folk costume greets the audience and announces the dances. First Potkolo is danced, then Poskočica, Čičak and finally Namiguša and Linđo. Čičak and Namiguša are two dances that especially entertained us because during Čičak, young men approach girls in an interesting way to ask them for dance, after which it is time to present the wedding customs of Konavle and toast for the newlyweds. During this, the bride throws zahari (special candies) that the children in the audience collect. After the mentioned toast, it is time for the Namiguša dance, during which the dance partners wink at each other (hence the name of the dance; cro.namignuti = eng.to wink). In addition to dancing, we also enjoyed the songs of the klapa Čilipi, and the performers eventually invited us to dance with them. If some of us had shoes with lower heels, we might have danced…

In any case, this was a wonderful experience. We then wanted to continue in the same traditional tone so we visited Konavle County Museum.

A visit to the Konavle County Museum broadened our horizons

After the folklore, we went to the Konavle County Museum to find out additional interesting things about their culture. The museum we visited was founded in 1974 at the instigation of the Čilipi Tourist Association precisely for the tourists that want to learn something more about what they had just seen. The house in which the museum is located in the center of Čilipi was built in 1909 for the needs of the village savings bank and cultural center. Until the Homeland War in 1991, the museum was arranged as a typical Konavle house with exhibits of men’s and women’s costumes and embroidered items. The museum material was collected through the kindness of the inhabitants and repurchase under the expert guidance of Katica Benc Bošković.

Konavle County Museum
Konavle County Museum

The permanent exhibition of the museum includes women’s and men’s folk costumes of Konavle from different periods, other textile handicrafts and jewelry, weapons, musical instruments, paintings, photographs and various other useful items.

Textile
Textile

In addition to the ethnographic collection, the Konavle County Museum preserves the legacy of the Cavtat Embroidery Association, which operated in Cavtat until the Second World War. The exceptional value of this collection consists of samples of  embroidery patterns from our and neighboring countries that Ms. Jelka Miš collected during her lifetime, it is written on the official website of the Museum. Although the space of the museum is relatively small, there is a lot on display in it, so we stayed here longer than we planned. In addition to the exhibited items, we had the opportunity to read interesting facts about each of them. After that we came to the souvenir shop where everyone bought a little souvenir for today.

Folk costumes and music instruments in Konavle County Museum
Folk costumes and music instruments

Of course, as always, we do not want to show you everything we have seen so that you would want to go to the beautiful Konavle and get to know their cultural tradition.

Your CTC Team, A. M.

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