A traditional product from Hrvatsko Zagorje in Croatia is the beautiful handmade wooden toys. The craft was developed in the 19th century, and the toys remain so special because of how they are made. Between when the first toy was created until the present, there were times where the toymakers were crafting up to 120 different models. Today, they now make approximately 50.
In this blog, we take a look into what types of toys are created, where you can find them and delve a little further into the process of creating a handmade wooden toy.
How a Wooden Toy in Hrvatsko Zagorje is Made
Back in the day, when toy crafting first began in Hrvatsko Zagorje, it was the men in the family that would construct the models. They would mix a combination of lime, beech, soft willow and maple wood from the region to create the material used to craft the wooden toys. Then, they would dry, hew, cut and carve using traditional tools.
The women in the family would then apply ecologically friendly paint and create a design from their imagination. They would use bright red, yellow and blue colours; this is where the symbolic floral and geometric patterns on the toys was born. The toys that are created today are almost identical to those dated back to more than a century ago!
Types of Wooden Toys in Hrvatsko Zagorje
There are a variety of different toys, including:
- Tiny furniture
- Spinning dancers
- Jumping horses
- Flapping birds
One of the most popular wooden toys was the whistle, and it soon became one of the nation’s favourite instruments. In addition to the whistle, toys that had wheels or a stick and could move were also popular.
History of Wooden Toys in Hrvatsko Zagorje
The wooden toymaking industry in Hrvatsko Zagorje first began in the 19th century. Along the pilgrimage route which leads to the Marian shrine of Our Lady of the Snow in Marija Bistrica, villagers who were based here developed an incredible technique to manufacture wooden toys.
Due to the impressive craftsmanship that goes into making these wooden toys, if they are properly cared for, it can often bring happiness and joy to several generations of children!
Where to Find the Wooden Toys of Hrvatsko Zagorje
The celebrated wooden toys of Hrvatsko Zagorje are loved by both the locals and tourists, and it is a common gift to take home from your travels to Croatia as a souvenir. You will discover a range of wooden toys when visiting local fairs, markets and shops in the area.
For a more authentic experience, you can visit the Marian shrine of Marija Bistrica; here is a centre dedicated to the toymaking craft. The toys help preserve Croatia’s cultural heritage, while also offering superior quality and timelessness to many of the alternatives found on the market today.
Something else that makes the wooden toys of Hrvatsko Zagorje so special is that they are also environmentally friendly, sustainable and well-made so that they can last a long time – sometimes so long that the same toy is passed down for generations!
Croatia is an incredible place to visit; offering breathtaking scenery, plenty of delicious food, locally sourced wine and an array of activities. Traditions have been maintained and the culture preserved in Croatia, meaning you can enjoy an authentic experience when you visit while learning about the rich history. The wooden toys of Hrvatsko Zagorje are just a small part of the wonders you can discover in Croatia!
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