Category: Cultural heritage


Šibenik Button

Over the years, the Šibenik Button decorated male national costumes, whilst over the last few decades it has been recognized as an original souvenir of Šibenik. Today, the Šibenik Button can be bought in the form of earnings, rings, charms, tie pins, brooches, necklaces and other similar items. The Button has the form of two half spheres connected in the middle and hollow inside. The outer part is decorated with thin silver threads and balls. The original Button was made in silver, with an exact size; however, today you can find it made out of gold and aluminum and a number of different sizes.

The Šibenik Button was made by the famous filigree Ljazer Čivjak according to the ideas of designer, Franka Baranović. In 2007, the Šibenik Button was named the most original Croatian souvenir by the Croatian Tourist Board. Today the Šibenik Button is a component of the costumes of Šibenik Klapas (a cappella groups).

Šibenik Bagatin

Šibenik was the first Croatian city to mint its own money.
The Council of Nine in Venice approved the creation and usage of Šibenik coins – Šibenik bagatin as a twelfth part of 30 Venetian ducats. Bagatin was a mean of payment in Šibenik for more than two centuries.
According to the Decree on Forging, one side of the coin contained a figure of St. Mark, the patron saint of Venice and the other, St. Michael, the town of Šibenik’s patron. Immediately after Šibenik other cities also started to mint their own money: Split in 1490, Zadar in 1491, Trogir in 1492 and Hvar in 1493.

Šibenik Hat

The Šibenik Hat is one of the most recognizable symbols of the town itself. Over the last century it stabilized in an orange colour with characteristic black embroided decorations. It is basically a very old popular tradition. However, the Šibenik Hat dates back to the period when Šibenik was the first Croatian city. Later the first and only cathedral was built here with regard to the means of construction. The Šibenik Hat reminds us of the recent periods when this city experienced an industrial boost constructing the first encircled production and distribution system of alternating current in the world.
The industrial potential which was, by these new possibilities from that period, positioned on the edges of the town, strongly established it until the present day. Here too Companies dealing with alluminium usually chose colour orange for their companies.
And here the story goes back to where it started, the hat and its modern colour.

The red hat is not an exclusive fashion item for Šibenik inhabitants. It can be seen in numerous popular costumes, as well as in parades or ceremonial costumes from various periods and countries. It is that part of clothing which can say something about its owner’s belongings even if his body is not seen by other people. And it is hard to find the same distinctive red colour. So we can easily remember the various red hats and Little Red Riding Hoods. We will start from the one which does not have a coloured hat. It is the hat of the Šibenik commoner from the multiple portrait chaplet in Šibenik Cathedral, chiselled in the middle of 15th century.
The older portrait from the Cathedral witnesses the status of a cute figure with a moustache. Without a moustache, it might be a young man. But, there is no young man in the cathedral. By the combination of hat and moustache we can reveal a married commoner. The semi-spherical form of the hat is a matter of the sculptor’s generalizing and simplifying the portrait. Compared to that, the hat from the medieval portrait is represented with a similar idealization of the popular hat from the Šibenik drawing from the beginning of 19th century.
The glorious husband is decorated by his moustache and the young man by his braid. Although they have been wearing them for three and a half centuries, they are actually completely round hats but have a slightly raised top. Two cuts in the “fundel” cut which made this kind of top possible gave it its recognizable profile due to which in the past it was sometimes called the “sharp hat”.
The hat has changed with the times. One of the stone portraits from the famous, lower decoration chapel on the Cathedral which was, due to its being worn, replaced during the reconstruction in 1850, also represents the lower class man with his hat. Probably the reconstructed portrait replaced the older one with the same theme. However, the details that the sculptor has not shown on this portrait with his chisels were recorded in a photograph some ten years later.
The next old monument is the figure of a local donor who helped the construction of the small church of Our Lady of Srijem in the passage from 12th to 13th century where a fresco on the apse can be seen. Here the painter of the fresco simplified the image of a decorated red hat which was used, for example, by the bride’s attendants in wedding ceremonies. Today alkars are decorated in the same way.
A woman’s scarf as a sign of a woman’s honour was respected even by the rules of the historical Šibenik community. In the same way it was considered that the hat worn by men was a sign of dignity and manhood. The hidden, black hat, the turned over hat, worn upside-down, the thrown hat, a game hat or one for repurchase each tells a special story of its owner’s habits and customs. As people used to say, “not every hat is for everyone’s head”. The images of local men from 19th century who considered their hats, together with other attributes of authoritative manhood to be an important part of the costume, have been preserved.
From this epic manhood came the narration that interprets the embroided “boule” on “teraku” as evoking of single heroes who had fallen in fights whilst defending the city. This narration motif can also be found in other areas of Croatia, sometimes also attached to the hat. What is certain is the characteristic embroided hat decoration that decorated the top and lateral sides in the past and in the end only the lateral sides in a simplified and machine attenuated version of the embroided ancient decoration.
In 1880 a craft called the “Popular embroidery industry” was opened in Šibenik that employed women subcontractors from Šibenik. These hat makers worked from home on proper sewing machines, brought by craftsmen, which by the additional handle below the working surface accelerated the embroidery works. The number of hats a woman could tailor and decorate in this way was an average of two hundred hats in a year. Craftmen were responsible for the machines, materials and suggested the simplified appearance of a hat adapted to the machine work and no longer the handywork. The quantities that he achieved in such an accelerated production made him produce a new hat shape and offer it for sale throughout western Croatia.
After World War I and Italian annexation of nearby Zadar, the hat by Šibenik women became the most recognizable symbol of Šibenik as abbastion of Slavism that was celebrated in the former kingdom. Numerous national Croatian families from the Zadar area sent their children for an education at Šibenik High School. After the War, the kingdom’s slogan of “popular and national union” was replaced by one of “brotherhood and union” that also included the Šibenik hat. Wearing the Šibenik hat with everyday clothes stopped being a custom over the years and started to be worn with ceremonial clothing and placed on numerous eminent guests’ heads.
A red hat…yes, but it is actually orange. If it is in Šibenik, it couldn’t be different, could it? When in the second half of 19th century, the houses were no longer painted with plant dyes, industrial supply was not always reliable. So it is remembered that in 1880, Zlarin’s coral hunters could not charge their catch in any way than by rolls of stout red peasant cloth which was later used to tailor the red “haljak” instead of the usual dark blue colour. According to one of the stories about the hat in Šibenik, a certain wholesale merchant was late with his purchase of stout red peasant cloth and came home with boat load of orange cloth. Anyhow, the orange was the colour of Šibenik hat as well as the well-known orange Šibenik basketball colour. Both are synthetic, completely recognizable and distinctive from the older, lighter tones of red that came from house painting and that were produced long ago in factories. Based on the tones obtained from colour baths, we can state that manganese from one of Šibenik’s factories also played a role.
The story that began in the apse of a medieval church above the Šibenik bridge and between the cathedral portraits actually ended within the casual products of one of the Šibenik factories. Without such industry and the “Popular embroidery industry” craft and without Šibenik heroes about which the Kačić-Miošić and today’s klapas sing, this kind of Šibenik hat would not exist. This is why Šibenik is considered orange city.