#25 Tugonica – traditional wooden toy making
Ivica Mesar making traditional wooden toys in the village of Tugonica, near Marija Bistrica, in the Zagorje region of northern Croatia. June 2013.
The tradition of wooden toy making in this rural part of northern Croatia (Hrvatsko Zagorje) developed in the 19th century, and survives in a few villages around Marija Bistrica such as Tugonica and Laz. Around fifty types of toy are made today – from small, brightly painted animal toys and birds with flapping wings, to whistles, miniature furniture and other objects – though at one time, this number was over a hundred. Marija Bistrica itself is the greatest pilgrimage site in Croatia, and the fact that the pilgrimage routes pass through these villages probably accounts in some measure for the development of toy making here – the toys still make popular souvenirs.
Ivica Mesar has been making these toys for over 20 years, using local willow, lime and other wood, which after drying is carved using traditional tools and hand-painted with floral and geometric patterns.
The traditional wooden toy-making of northern Croatia was inscribed on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2009.
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