Golden embroidery reloaded | WeBalkans | EU Projects in the Western Balkans

Golden embroidery reloaded

Modern female entrepreneurship and an ancient Montenegrin craft are being interwoven with the support of the EU.


Montenegro’s golden embroidery has been used on traditional costumes for more than three centuries, but was at risk of being totally forgotten because of shifts in taste and a break in the transmission of the craft from older to younger generations. Another reason was that even where people wanted items made with golden embroidery, applying gold on already costly national costume or silk shirts was very expensive. However, the craft has recently been given a boost with an initiative from a local Montenegrin civil society organisation and the support of the European Union.

Biserka Raičević is in her 60s, and comes from a Montenegrin family that nurtures tradition, particularly in relation to handcrafts. Although she worked as an economist for most of her life, she also continued to practising as a hobby the traditional handcrafts that she learned as a young woman. However, until recently she had never tried golden embroidery, the peak of the Montenegrin handcraft tradition. That changed when she joined the workshop organised with the support of the EU-funded ReLoAD project.

“The work on golden embroidery requires lots of patience and very specific and demanding crafting skills.”

Biserka Raičević, RB Ethno Fashion Hand Made

Reviving forgotten techniques

Biserka explains that she heard about the workshop from her husband who saw the call on social media and drew her attention to the opportunity, knowing her love for handcrafts. She wasn’t sure about applying as the work on golden embroidery is very demanding, as well as being expensive because of the gold thread used on the embroidery. However, she went ahead, driven by the feeling of respect and great love for tradition though the experience taught her that “work on golden embroidery requires what she describes as “lots of patience and very specific and demanding crafting skills”.

The training was organised through the EU-funded “Preservation and development of the traditional Montenegrin craft – gold embroidery” project and included women of different ages and social backgrounds. Older experts at the craft worked as trainers to pass their knowledge on. Alongside the training, the project also included support for communications and creating a marketing plan for promoting golden embroidery, as well as the launch of a publication that details the history and importance of the craft.

“This training was a huge inspiration for me. “

Biserka Raičević, RB Ethno Fashion Hand Made

“This training was a huge inspiration for me,” says Biserka, and with the skills she’d gained from the project, she decided to start a small business with the aim of presenting and providing access to these beautiful creations to more people. Designs that include golden embroidery are central to most of the products in her business, RB Ethno Fashion Hand Made, including designs of modern items for everyday use such as bags, scarves, or masks.

Apart from her production and sales activities, Biserka has also organised free workshops where she contributes to passing this skill on to other women from her community. “I believe that this tradition should live, so I am interested in as many young people as possible learning this technique,” she says.

About the project

The “Preservation and development of the traditional Montenegrin craft – gold embroidery” project is implemented by the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development in cooperation with the Association of arts and crafts NIT. The project was supported by the Regional Programme for Local Democracy (ReLOaD), funded by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme.

The project aims to promote Montenegrin gold embroidery through the development of a marketing plan, improving the economic and social status of women through sharing gold embroidery skills, and popularising gold embroidery through cooperation with fashion designers.

Find out more

Photo credits: ReLOaD

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