Đakovački vezovi (Đakovo Embroidery Festival) is a well-known event of original folklore and essential symbol of Đakovosince since 1967.
The first Đakovački vezovi Festival was on 2 and 3 July 1967, under the leadership of Dr. Zvonimir Benčević, as a specific tourist-cultural festival on the occasion of the International Tourist Year, under the title Svečane igre Slavonije i Baranje Đakovački vezovi (Folk Games of Slavonia and Baranja and Đakovo Embroidery). It was a hugely successful event that becomes a tradition.
Several thousand participants from all parts of Croatia and abroad gather each year, and visitors have the opportunity to revel in the beauty of folk customs, regional costumes, song and dance, handicrafts, and gastronomic specialties. The most attractive events of the Festival include the ceremonial procession of all participants, the opening and closing program, equestrian competitions, the cavalcade of wedding carriages and horse riders, gastronomic and music programs.
Famous Lipizzaner horses are used along with singers and dancers from many foreign lands to perform in the “Đakovački vezovi “parade. The neighing of horses is united with the joyful singing of bećarac, a traditional Slavonian musical ensemble, and clashes of sabers from a ritual dance of the Gorjani village beauties. They are also known as “ljelje “or queens and are the last carriers of age-old custom, held in spring, in which girls present themselves to prospective suitors by dancing with sabers in their hands.
An inevitable part of the parade in Đakovo is passing next to the Cathedral of Saint Peter, one of the most famous sacral buildings in Croatia. It is an essential part of the skyline of Đakovo. The building is 84 m high, built with seven million bricks, and 395 oaken pylons from Slavonia built in its foundations. The inside of this neo-Romanic building is decorated with murals and sculptures of numerous artists. In the Cathedral’s crypt is the tomb of one of the essential Croat of the 19th century –Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer.
Preserving folk heritage was always one of the cultural imperatives of Đakovo, which was evident during the time of Bishop Strossmayer, who collected “numerous artifacts of folk craftsmanship, specimens of regional costumes and various folk weavings and embroideries.”
The folk heritage in The Đakovo Cathedral
The fresco in the Đakovo Cathedral ‘Adoration of Magicians and Shepherds’ (L. Seitz, 1878) depicts a Croat in traditional costumes, a Slavonian girl in the regional costume of the embroidered village Budrovci, and peasants and shepherds dressed in regional costumes. The floor of the Cathedral was made in such a fashion as to mimic the works of folk craftsmanship, and some elements of folk handicrafts can be seen on the Cathedral’s front side.
Two features of the Festival are part of the UNESCO
“Bećarac “and the spring Parade of the “ljelja “or Queens from Gorjani is under UNESCO’s protection as a part of intangible cultural heritage. Đakovački Vezovi is known as the biggest Festival of authentic folklore in Slavonia, Baranja, and Srijem. The Festival gathers folklore dance groups from all parts of the world.