Kashubian patterns delight with the beauty of colours and precision of workmanship. What is the history of Kashubian embroidery and its most characteristic motives?

Floral elements dominate in Kashubian patterns. The same motifs can be found both on Kashubian embroidery and Kashubian ceramics. What is the history of Kashubian patterns decorating embroidered tablecloths and embroidered servietts from this region? Which patterns are the most popular and characteristic for Kashubia? We invite you to read our text.

History of Kashubian patterns

Kashubian patterns – a bit of history

Kashubian design, like most folk patterns, draw inspiration from nature. However, while in most regions of Poland folk patterns were created in a natural way by simple people, the history of the creation of Kashubian patterns is a bit more formalized.

In various areas of Polish handicraft, we often observe a large freedom of design, which depends on the creativity of the artist (although of course the characteristic motifs are repeated). In Kashubian embroidery and Kashubian ceramics, we deal with specific schools of decorating, and each of them applies characteristic Kashubian embroidery motifs and principles.

This feature of Kashubian patterns is associated with the history of their creation. In the early stages of Kashubian embroidery development, female religious congregations played a very important role (primarily the Norbertine monastery in Żuków and Benedictine monastery in Żarnowiec), and in the case of Kashubian ceramics – family factories.

Kashubian embroidery – development of various schools of the Kashubian pattern at female convents

In female convents, patterns were shared among convent houses from various European countries. Handicraft schools, through which traditional Kashubian patterns were popularised, where founded by convenst. Initially schools were dedicated to girls from noble and magnate families, and only later they become open for girls from folk families. The students reflected the motives they were taught, they could only introduce their own elements with the consent of the teacher. Of course, the composition of individual elements left some freedom. Due to the fact that the Kashubian embroidery developed at the convents, objects that were decorated with this embroidery have also been preserved.

Schools of Kashubian embroidery

Żukow school of embroidery – the oldest Kashubian patterns

The oldest school of Kashubian embroidery is the Żukow School, whose traditions date back to the 13th century. This school developed at the Norbertine convent in Żuków. It was famous primarily for the original method of decorating female bonnets with Kashubian embroidery made of silver or gold thread.

In the nineteenth century, the custom of decorating bonnets disappeared, but the embroidery traditions of this region have survived to this day. Embroidered tablecloths, decorated with Kashubian patterns from the Żuków school, are characterized by the dominance of shades of blue and the delicate shading of individual motifs. 7 colors are used – 3 shades of blue, yellow, red, green and black. To this day, there are artists living in Poland who have learned this handicraft from the last students of the Norbertine nuns.

Embroidered tablecloths for collectors – Kashubian embroidery by Żukow and Bobrowiecka schools

The oldest school of Kashubian embroidery is the Żukow School, whose traditions date back to the 13th century. This school developed at the Norbertine convent in Żuków. It was famous primarily for the original method of decorating female bonnets with Kashubian embroidery made of silver or gold thread.

If you are looking for original products decorated with Kashubian embroidery, we encourage you to familiarize yourself with embroidered tablecloths from premium offer of My Poland online handicraft shop. They are made by the master of Kashubian embroidery – Mrs. Wanda. Mrs. Wanda’s works have been awarded many times in various competitions and enrich collections related to Kashubian culture in regional art museums. We recommend these products to collectors and experts on Kashubian embroidery and designers.

Kashubian embroidery made according to the Żukow school decorates our premium tablecloth in blue colors. The pattern is distinguished by a large variety of elements – it uses many floral motifs: sunflowers, forget-me-nots, tulips, cornflowers, shamrocks and plant (palettes, leaves). The embroidery adorns both the center of the tablecloth and its edges. Making such dense embroidery requires several months of work.

The second of our premium tablecloths, also made by Mrs. Wanda, is decorated with the Kashubian pattern of the Bobrowiecka school. This embroidery variant is characterized by the fact that the blue color, usually dominant in the Kashubian embroidery, has been replaced with autumn colors – gold, amber, brown, orange and yellow.

Wdzydzka school – how was the Kashubian embroidery reborn?

Kashubian embroidery and other Kashubian traditions owe their revival to the married couple – Teodora and Izydor Gulgowski, who lived in Wdzydze Kiszewskie. The Gulgowski family founded the Village Museum in Wdzydze together (photos from this museum can be found on our Original Handicraft website: https://originalhandicraft.org/pl/warto-zobaczyc/wdzydze-kiszewskie/. They collected exhibits originating from the area that they lived in – utilitarian and household items (chests, chairs, cradles, furniture, ceramics), elements of folk costumes – including an embroidered caps, as well as paintings on glass. Based on the elements of decorating these items, Mrs. Teodora – a visual artist, designed Kashubian patterns in which she gathered all the motifs she knew, adopting a traditional, vertical arrangement of the compositions. Teodora spread these patterns thanks to an embroidery course organized for local girls, contributing to the revival of embroidery traditions of this region.

Later, various Kashubian embroidery schools developed, but many of them were influenced by the Wdzydzka school. Individual Kashubian embroidery schools are sometimes difficult to distinguish. However, the common feature of most of them is the richness of colors and patterns that distinguish all the embroidered tablecloths from this region.

Kashubian patterns – the most popular motifs

Kashubian patterns – the most popular motifs of Kashubian embroidery

We have already written about selected schools of Kashubian embroidery. We would also like to present themes characteristic for this handicraft. As in any folk art, in the Kashubian embroidery, you can find a reflection of the plants found in the artists’ surroundings. In the case of Kashubian embroidery, these are usually: cornflowers, bells, clovers, pansies, carnations, forget-me-nots.

This embroidery also reflects garden plants such as margaret flower, roses and sunflowers.

Another characteristic feature of Kashubian embroidery is, that you can find here also the visualizations of plants that at the time Kashubian patterns were created were not known in Poland. Among the examples are pomegranate, asparagus, or even very popular today, but brought to Europe only in the sixteenth century tulip. We have already written about the history of the creation of Kashubian embroidery – probably the presence of these culturally foreign motifs is due to the fact that patterns were passed between branches of convents from different countries.

It is also worth noting that some motifs – e.g. tulip – are presented in various ways. There is no single applicable pattern for this flower. The creators present it with a large dose of fantasy.

Embroidered tablecloths – Kashubian designs at your home

Tablecloths decorated with Kashubian embroidery are especially recommended for people who value traditional handicrafts and the beauty of Kashubian embroidery. It is also a perfect gift for Christmass or wedding. Embroidered tablecloths offered by My Poland handicraft store are made by creators recognized in the environment. Kashubian embroidery that adorns them is distinguished by great care, precision and high quality.

It is worth paying attention to the richness of the pattern that adorns the entire tablecloth.

Kashubian ceramics

Kashubian ceramics – Kashubian designs passed down from generation to generation

When writing about Kashubian designs, one cannot fail to mention Kashubian ceramics. It developed primarily in family ceramic factories. Traditional Kashubian pottery designs have been passed down from generation to generation. Thanks to this, they have survived to this day unchanged. My Poland products come from one of such traditional family workshops in Chmielów. Kashubian embroidery and Kashubian ceramics sometimes use similar motifs that can also be found in other areas of Kashubian handicrafts – e.g. on wooden furniture.

Tulip – a pattern combining Kashubian embroidery and Kashubian ceramics

Interestingly, it is the tulip that is a common motive of both Kashubian embroidery and Kashubian ceramics. In Kashubian ceramics, 2 varieties of this pattern are used – a small tulip and a large tulip.

Other patterns characteristic of Kashubian ceramics are:

  • lilac twig, also called a bouquet of lilac – probably the oldest decorative motif of Kashubian ceramics

  • lily – creating a complicated pattern, also found in Kashubian embroidery, but less popular
  • fish scale – a popular theme, referring to the richness of lakes and fish found in this region

  • Kashubian star – a geometric pattern, unusual for this region, whose origin is not entirely clear

  • Kashubian wreath – usually used as a complementary motive.

Patterns are often combined with each other, which allows you to create interesting and diverse compositions.

We hope that in this article we have been able to introduce you to the topics related to the Kashubian handicraft patterns. Of course, in such a short text it is impossible to exhaust the topic. We encourage those of you interested in the subject of Kashubian patterns to search independently. We also invite you to visit the section devoted to Kashubian handicrafts on My Poland online handicraft store:

Kashubian embroidery – tablecloths and sets
Kashubian embroidery – kitchen textiles
Kashubian ceramics – ceramics