In 2012, Alexander Lukashenko approved a state programme to revive the technologies and traditions of Slutsk belt production
In 2012, Alexander Lukashenko approved a state programme to revive the technologies and traditions of Slutsk belt production. Almost Br20bn was allocated to the project; this is an unusually large sum, the cost of several fine examples that could be purchased from abroad. This issue of cost has caused controversy, opinion divided as to whether the money would be wiser spent on purchasing current artefacts, copies, or establishing skills to make them from scratch. Time has proven that the decision to follow the latter path was a good one. Copies of the late 18th and early 20th century hand woven artefacts are already coveted souvenirs for tourists coming to Belarus.
The Director of the Old Belarusian Culture Museum, Boris Lazuko, believes further steps are needed. “For many years I’ve been promoting the idea of not simply producing copies, but making new stylised designs. We could manufacture dishware and fabrics with these unique patterns. I have put my ideas to our state companies but received no response as yet.”
At present, the Slutskie Poyasa (Slutsk belts) company is involved in a revival of weaving traditions, producing reproductions of artefacts that are almost indistinguishable from the originals. Mr. Lazuko hopes that these will be of interest to museums as, sadly, not every Belarusian museum can afford to buy an authentic Slutsk belt. He concludes with an appeal, “We are in great need of sponsors’ and the support of patrons’ in order to preserve our important historical heritage.”
By Yulia Leonova