This is my entry for "Local Folklore" contest at
Warning: long description ahead. But pleeeeaaaase read it before commenting, yes?
This one was a challenge. One look at my gallery and you will know why. XD
I've been living in Germany for two years now, but with =JLDragonfly
's blessing, I chose to depict something from my homeland, Croatia. I love living in Germany and all, but deep inside I will forever be a little Croatian girl. ^^
At first I wanted to depict some of our slightly-horroristic legends, but the crappy weather and mood swings (lol) made me wish to draw something more positive. I thought about Zagreb, my hometown and the capital of Croatia, and tried to think of something very typical for the city. And then it hit me - RED UMBRELLAS!
The typical red umbrellas with colorful lines around the edge. You can see them at the Dolac market (an open air marketplace) as well as in all the souvenir shops and whatnot. They are called "Shestine umbrellas" because they were first created and carried by people from the neighborhood called Shestine.
Here is an amazing photo by ~Simunjak
featuring the Dolac market and the Zagreb Cathedral in the background:
There is a cute little legend about how those umbrellas came into existence, but it was difficult to find it documented somewhere online. In English, it was impossible. Finally, I was lucky enough to stumble across this blog entry: [link]
Unfortunately, it is in Croatian - AND a dialect, too, so you will probably nor understand much. But here is the entire translation in my journal: [link]
And this is the most important part:
Shestine umbrella is a part of the Shestine traditional costume, which is typical for the area surrounding Zagreb. The costume was worn until the 1960-ies, after which it slowly disappears from everyday life.
The traditional costume is nowadays usually worn during various festivities or celebrations, and most of all for folklore purposes.
The Shestine umbrella however remained a recognizable souvenir from Zagreb. And this is the truth. But that is all they write about the Shestine umbrella. Many do not even know what Shestine umbrellas look like.
Now, there are cheap, small, multi- or solid-colored umbrellas, and not many still know how beautiful the red Shestine umbrella is, with its wooden handle, like a sun surrounded by a rainbow.
Yes, that is right, a rainbow spilled across the sun to color the rain. At the beginning, it was just an ordinary umbrella, like any other. Black, dark and dull, for that is what all the umbrellas were like. They served only one purpose – to protect the people of Shestine from rain and wind, that is why the umbrellas were so large. The legend says that things remained this way, until one day young Jankic came to tell his dear Janica that he loved her. Protected from the rain under the big black umbrella, the young man swore true and eternal love to his loved one. Their lips met, and the color of their love colored the umbrella red. From that happy day on, the previously black and unsightly umbrella turned into a beautiful red one.
So, in my drawing, I depicted the moment when Jankic's and Janica's umbrella turned bright red.
Yay for mushy, romantic stories!
Jokes aside, romance always played an important part in Croatian stories, so I thought this legend was very representative.
Clothes of the couple correspond with one of the versions of the Zagreb traditional costumes.
For more pictures: [link]
The "shape" of the neighborhood in the background was inspired by the Stone Gate in Zagreb: [link]
But no image was used directly as reference.
Why are all the other figures black and stylized? Because - as the story says - all the other umbrellas were initially black. And for the couple, I feel that everyone else would have been unimportant. ^^ (Seriously, do you pay attention to anyone else when with the one you love?)
Pose reference: [link]
Other deviations by other people featuring Shestine umbrella:
- 2H pencil for sketch
- watercolors (Pelikan and Winsor & Newton)
- colored pencils (Faber Castell - Colors of Nature)
- white ink (Copic)
- scan put together and contrast in the scan fixed a tad in Photoshop --> nothing else was done digitally!
- watercolor paper 300 g/m2 (140 lbs)
Size: 30 x 40 cm (12' x 16')
Time: 18 hours
***Wanna commission me? See whether I am open for commissions: [link]
, or simply send me a note. ***