Čipka is a style of lace that is created with fine thread against a firm backing, usually on a round, square, or cylindrical hard-stuffed pillow. Pins or stitches are inserted to hold the threads as the patterns develop. Lacemaking was first practiced around the Mediterranean and Western Europe during the Renaissance. Today, the three main lacemaking centers in Croatia are on the island of Pag, Lepoglava in Northern Croatia, and the island of Hvar. Each area has its own styles, designs, and methods for making the lace.
Pag lace is a “needle lace” and is famous around the world. A circle with tiny holes is defined, and thread is pulled through the holes with a needle using eight threaded sticks which diagonally cross the circle. Then small circles, triangles, rosettes, and stripes are formed from the center. This delicate work is called teg.
Lepoglava lace is a “bobbin lace,” made by twisting and braiding thread on multiple hanging bobbins. The designs are geometric, floral, or even of animals. Lacemaking in Lepoglava dates from the 19th century. Today an annual festival celebrates this beautiful artwork.
Hvar lace, also called “agave lace,” has been made in the Benedictine Convent on Hvar since it was first brought there by local sailors returning from Tenerife in the 19th century; the nuns studied the complex work, and perfected it. The process of making agave lace includes specially preparing threads taken from fresh leaves of agave plants which grow on the island.
All of these laces are created without a printed pattern, making each piece an individual creation, unique to the artist who creates it. Pag, Lepoglava, and Hvar lace are all inscribed in UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.