Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Arts n' crafts

We were downtown again today, making the rounds of the travel agencies trying to get our weekend/vacation plans firmed up. Then I saw it..right there on the street...in plain view...a SOUVENIR STAND. The first one I've seen since we've been here. For such an ancient culture and for a people with such a strong ethnic identity there is a shocking lack of evidence of their cultural heritage here in Pristina. Other than the Kosovo Art Gallery (more like a History of the War) there is very little local artwork, and no handicrafts, tchochkes, memorabilia, not even a T-Shirt shop. I asked someone more familiar with the area what the Kosovars were known for before the war, and the answer was a very vague non-answer about embroidery. But there seems to be nothing that is made here (anymore). So it was a shock to see the souvenir stand. Sadly, on closer inspection it was selling the cast offs of other countries' souvenirs. Things like a figurine made of out dried coconuts that said "no worries"; an assortment of plastic bead jewelry straight out of the Oriental Trader catalog; carved wooden pots that screamed "made in China" - and not one thing reflected anything about Pristina or Kosovo (other than the coating of dust on everything). Looks like we're only taking pictures back with us.

Come to think of it, even when we were in Prizren we didn't see anything that was representative of the culture. Where did all the artifacts go? Why aren't there shops on every corner selling local native handicrafts to the huge international population here? The only things you see on the corner are the omnipresent cigarette-and-prepaid-cell-phone-card vendors.

My new mission is to find something representative of traditional craftsmanship.

Something made locally, besides bread.

1 comment:

Debbie said...

Hey TT! I just caught up on all your blogs. Wow. I'm also amazed that it's already June 13th. It's hard for me to keep track of the date when I am on a seriously long vacation. I hope to Skype with you soon. I had a friend visiting the past few days, and after she left today I was going to "call," but then realized you would probably already be asleep.

Good luck on finding the crafts!