The people of the Ohrid possess a special artistic spirit, and numerous crafts have been practised here for centuries. Today these traditional skills are still performed in much the original manner.
Woodcarving dates back to the 13th century. Despite the absence of a formal school at present, master woodcarvers are still working and passing their skills to young apprentices.
In their shops in Ohrid and Struga, you can watch the masters creating beautiful works of filigree jewellery. In Resen you can observe potters using traditional methods, such as the spinning wheel. You can also visit the workshops of coppersmiths and shoemakers and watch how their skillful hands shape their products.
The world renown Ohrid pearl is created from the scales of the little fish “Plasica”. The methods are secret family traditions passed down from one generation to another. Ohrid pearl necklaces, earrings, and broaches are popular souvenirs.
You may also visit the studios of contemporary artists, who in parallel to the traditional arts, add to the already rich artistic expression of the region. For additional information please contact our travel agent.
The Ohrid pearl
A secret that has been carefully kept for almost a century. It is the brightness and the uniqueness of the one-of-a-kind Ohrid pearl, a jewel that the city is famous for far and wide. In the old bazaar in Ohrid you can hear many tangled stories about the creation of the pearl. The Talevi family is considered to be one of the rare families that fervently guard the tradition and the single recipe for the manufacturing of this beautiful and unique jewelry.
The secret story of the pearl’s origin begins with the scales of the Ohrid fish – Plasica, but the manner of elaboration and the recipe for the glazing is a family secret passed on only to the male descendants.
It is only known that the recipe was bought in the distant 1924 from a Russian soldier who was staying in Ohrid and the material was brought from Bethlehem by the Talevi family.
Undoubtedly the wonderful pearl carries the secret of its manufacturing hidden within its beauty.
The experts would tell you that this pearl lasts eternally.
Many famous people from the entire world couldn’t resist the glow of the Ohrid pearl. Elizabeth, The Queen of Britain, the former Swedish minister for foreign affairs Anna Lindh, the former Bulgarian minister for foreign affairs Nadezhda Mihailova and many other famous names.
School of Byzantine painting
Ohrid has been a city with rich medieval painting tradition for centuries. Apart from Sinai and Altos, Ohrid holds the richest collection of Byzantine icons from 11th – 19th century. The Ohrid collection displayed in the Gallery of icons in the museum complex of the church of St. Bogorodica Perivleptos consists of over thirty icons with outstanding artistic qualities. Most of the icons were composed in the Ohrid craft stores, and some were sent as presents from Constantinople or Thessaloniki during the course of centuries.
Almost all icons of the present Ohrid gallery composed until the 15th century are characterized by their superb colorful solutions and with beauty of the painter’s final touches. They seem as if they were woven with subtle combinations of golden, violet and blue color and yellow tones with no accent that might spoil the colorful unity. Some of these icons were composed for religious processions, thus being painted on both sides. The icons for the religious processions from the Ohrid collection are listed among the best pieces of art in this collection of Byzantine iconscript. The Ohrid icons are masterpieces of fresco painters from different generations and followers of all possible existing movements of the Byzantine medieval painting within a spam of several centuries. They are painted in different techniques. Most of them are painted in tempera on wood, and those that were composed in a mosaic technique, hammered as reliefs in silver or wood carved are rarity.
Most of the of the Ohrid frescoes painters at the same time did icons for the churches of Ohrid. Even though the fresco painters did not leave their signatures, today by great amount of certainty, we could follow the work of certain painters who did frescoes and icons simultaneously. Later on, the Ohrid fresco painters used the characters from the frescoes in the church St. Bogorodica Perivlepta from the 13th century to serve as models when painting icons.
Ten of the icons of the Ohrid collection are decorated with silver frames. These frames have a distinctive significance for the study of the applied art in the medieval age, especially for the study of the activity of the medieval artistic craft stores. Characters of saints and prophets and compositions of the Old and New Testament in miniature, the symbols of the gospel as well as flora and geometrical ornaments are presented on the frame covers of the Ohrid icons . The frame covers of the Ohrid icons are piece of work of the artistic craft from the 11th century and on. The high artistic values of these silver frame covers are expressed in the precise work of the reliefs in miniature. Their composers were artists with the highest creative possibilities of the time.
The present collection of the Ohrid icons is completed after the Second World War. Special merits for this belong, to the painter and conservator Zdravko Blazik. Most of the Ohrid icons that were damaged blackened or later on unprofessionally repainted were found by him in the state of irretrievable destruction. The painter Blazik, having done a detailed examination, decided that the greatest enemy of the wood on which the icons were painted was a type of a warm known as ‘Anobium’. This warm destroys the icons in such a degree that the core of the wood turns into spongy material. As a result of this, a procedure for replacing the damaged wood had to be undertaken in order to save the Ohrid icons. The blackness fro the smoke melted by the polishing cover would not allow the recognition of the real artistic qualities of some of the most significant Ohrid icons. In such condition was found the well-known icon of the apostle Mateo from the XIII century, as well as the widely-famous icon of Bogorodica Psichosotrija (Soul saver), with the opposite side presenting the composition of Blagovestenie.
Later in the time, most of the Ohrid icons vanished for ever. A considerable number of Ohrid icons are displayed in different museums and collections. However, it is very difficult to determine how many icons are part of other collections. Additionally, it is very difficult to determine how many icons there were in Ohrid in the time when the city of Kliment achieved its artistic prosperity. The iconostasis of the Ohrid churches were renovated. The old icons were replaced by icons with more recent origin.
In collaboration with the painter Vladislav Kocarev(firstname.lastname@example.org) in Ohrid, in 2005 was opened the first school for Byzantine icon painting. All medieval art lovers during a ten day beginner’s course with theoretical and practical lectures on icon painting have the opportunity to produce icons following the original Byzantine tradition and they are able to take them home as their souvenirs.
Cooper products by Marinov family
The family tradition of cooper products by Marinov family from Ohrid has lasted for nine centuries. In 1914 in Ohrid was founded the cooper workshop. Slave Marinov as a third generation and his daughter Maria Marinova as the fourth generation in this craft successfully follow the century long tradition: they manufacture cooper and brass items and jewelry by hand carving and hammering.
Workshops of the Ohrid pearl
Since 1924 the Talev family has been designing Ohrid pearls. The secret of preparations of the emulsion has been transferred from father to son, with no exception only to male successors, whilst the females are trained for assistance if necessary. The emulsion used to cover the Ohrid pearl has natural origin and it is made by taking out the silver from the skin of the plasica fish, which exists only in Lake Ohrid. Kliment Talev is the second generation who designs Ohrid pearls. His son Vane is the third and the grandchildren Kliment and Mihajlo will be the forth generation. The Talev family is especially proud of the specially designed pearls in their workshop for the English Quin Elisabeth II for her special evening occasions.
A significant place in the Ohrid pearl design belongs to the Filev family which is among the candidates for the King of Ohrid pearls with a family tradition dating from 1928. In the remote 1928 Mihajlo Filev finds out the secret of pearl production from the skin of plasica – an endemic fish species in Lake Ohrid. The Filev family begins with pearl design transferring this craft from generation to generation. More than 80 years the pearl jewelry of Filev as a leading souvenir in the city of Ohrid updated by each new generation, becomes a part of the jewelry collections of many people in Macedonia and worldwide.
The review of the holly and cultural sites in Ohrid wouldn’t be completed without mentioning Vangel Dereban, whose filigree workshop is a living museum of this traditional filigree craft in designing jewelry.
The silversmith’s craft, that is, the filigree is a centuries long tradition in Ohrid and Struga. In the Dereban family as well as in other families that are involved in silversmith’s craft this craft is transferred from father to son. Vangel Dereban cherishes this tradition with great love.
The Macedonian woodcarving achieves its culmination in the first half of the 19th century with the design of the iconostasis in the church St. Spas in Skopje and monastery St. Jovan Bigorski situated in the valley of Radika river. In that time, besides Petar Filipovski from the village Gari, the most famous woodcarving were his brother Marko and Makarie Negriev Frckovski. They worked together for a period of time.
The period of the 19th century becomes a century of Macedonian peasants – woodcarving and fresko painters (zografi).Gathered in a number of teams they would leave their villages Galicnik, Lazaropole, Gari, Osoj and Tresonce in spring time and wold work through on the Balkan in order to earn for living. Late in autumm they would come back on the slopes of the mountain Bistra and other mountains in the valley of Radika river.
The Macedonian woodcarving from Debar vicinity decorated with woodcarved iconostasis the churches of St. Bogorodica Bolnicka and St. Bogorodica Kamensko in Ohrid. They are considered among more significant accomplishments. By working on the iconostasis, the woodcarvers as unique artists in the Christian east region, pondered in the heart of the wood searching for its most melodic expression.
With their tools they revealed the magnificent forms of the massive pillars of nut tree, thus imagining and carving the scenes of the Old and New Testimony.
Records of the Macedonian peasants work coming from the slopes of Bistra mountain and the valley of Radika river are preserved till today.
In period before and after the First World War the craft of woodcarving began to decline sharplu. In 1928 in order to renew this artistic activity the academic sculptor Branislav Jovancevik founded the artistic woodcarving school in Debar. In 1930 this school was transferred to Ohrid. After the Second World War a school for woodcarving will be founded in Ohrid which later on it will be transferred to Skopje as a department of the school for applied art.
Woodcarving in Ohrid was launched again in the second period of the 20th century. Thus, in the course of many years of work in the artistic atelier for woodcarving school in Ohrid and Debar as true followers of the rich woodcarving traditions in Macedonia, created a number of pieces with an extraordinary artistic value.
The last generations of woodcarvers from the first years of the 20th century live and work in Ohrid: Ljupco and Saso Djambas, father and son, Ajri Doko, Dimce Janko, Koco Ainoski and other followers of the woodcarving traditions in Macedonia.
The “Metal Obsession” of Anastas Dudan
The craft of producing works of art on metal is more than 2,600 years old in the Ohrid region.
As early as the sixth century BC, the people of the Trebenista cultural area produced, with great inventiveness, brilliant artifacts that still excite art lovers. With his works in metal, Anastas Dudan from Ohrid revives the historical art object as reminiscence, aiming to achieve the artistic values of the old masters.
He is not the sole artist in Ohrid who expresses himself in metal, but he is the only one who has achieved excellent results `reviving’ the exceptional values of the Macedonian mediaeval icon and fresco painting environment, capturing the essence of those works through the beating and hammering of metal surfaces. Dudan has achieved enviable results using his technological knowledge and expertise in decorations adorning the mediaeval icons of the famous Ohrid Collection. He has also managed to recreate the illuminating artistic value of old Macedonian manuscripts with a rare creative devotion originating in the depths of his soul.
Manufacturing leather products
In the old Ohrid charshija there is a wellknown workshop of the brothers Gorgi and Milcho Belevi for manufacturing leather items. They are well-known in the Netherlands. Dutch visitors often visit them by recommendation and they usually buy souvenirs of leather dancing shoes or some other products.
The tradition of making a paper in Macedonia begins from the second half of 16th century in the monastery of “St. Naum”. It was used for internal needs in limited quantity.
The National Workshop for Handmade Paper “St. Kliment Ohridski”, Ohrid continues this tradition. It has started with work from 23.10.2002.
The workshop is placed in the magnificent part of the old city, next to the National Museum – Robev family house.