New masters comprehend old recipes

Reproductions of famous Slutsk sashes produced in Borisov, for sale as souvenirs
By Nadezhda Radivonova

The diptych Slutsk Recollection, consisting of two pictures is now on sale; one of these depicts a flower while the other one features repeats. A computer programme has been created to produce the embroidery by machine, copying the interwoven patterns of the originals.

Another souvenir — Slutsk Recollection embroidered sash — has a dark and light side, reproduced by Borisov masters to copy a photograph of a Slutsk sash from the second half of the 18th century. A third (sample copy) is woven on a hand loom, approved by the Arts Council of the Belarusian Union of Artists and the Belhudozhpromysly Association.

“We’ve tried to follow the original appearance as closely as possible, but it’s difficult to reproduce the sophisticated weaving technology of true Slutsk sashes in a short period of time. Moreover, modern equipment is not appropriate. Our products are souvenirs, honouring famous Slutsk sashes,” notes Yelena Shemit, who works at the enterprise.

Slutsk sashes were woven by hand in Belarus in the second half of the 18th and early 19th century. They are unique worldwide and are part of our national culture, inspiring other Western decorative and applied arts with their compositional harmony and refined ornamentation. They are one of the greatest achievements of world culture, made with huge skill. Even sashes made outside of the town of Slutsk became known as Slutsk sashes, manufactured in Poland, Ukraine, Russia and other cities of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Rzecz Pospolita. They were even made in Lyon (France), which was greatly influenced by Slutsk weaving.

The technology of weaving sashes was very complicated, requiring much study; apprenticeships lasted seven or more years. The secrets of the craft were well protected and have become sadly lost over time; vigorous scientific reconstruction is required.
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