Always closely linked to their native land, the Macedonian people have mostly lived through centuries of tradition transmitting it from one generation to another, and thus creating an unusually rare material and spiritual culture which bears some patriarchal characteristics
True folklore cannot be bought or sold, but has to be learned through toil, sweat, tears, and, sometimes, even blood. Contrary to some who abuse its name for self-serving interests, it is not mere entertainment to amuse the throngs or to pander to an audience. Rather, it should, as with all true art, stimulate, educate, irritate, and, hopefully, lead all who are touched by it to a new level of insight.
At the same time, by its nature folklore is also accessible, not merely to an artistic elite, but to all who pursue it with passion. It will take all of your concentration, creativity, and passionate effort to capture its essence, to add to its richness, and to transmit it undiluted to the next generation so that they, Macedonians and others may yet know its sublime beauty and glory.
Macedonian Folk Narratives
Most of Macedonia's colorful folklore consists of folktales and aphorisms (witty sayings). The following are typical aphorisms: "Falsehoods have short legs" (lies are soon found out); and "Begin a task, but always have its conclusion in mind" (finish what you start.) (Link do natinal quotes)
Macedonian Folk Embroidery
The Macedonian folk embroidery, mostly made of wool and silk, impresses with its polychrome where all the shades of red dominate. Light red is particularly characteristic of the embroidery of the Prilep, Bitola, Debar and Ohrid regions. The women's gowns from Dolen Polog and Skopska Crna Gora are decorated with black moulded embroidery which reminds us with its stylish composition of the early Christian textile decor.
Particular attention Macedonian had paid to the design and decoration of their clothes, so that national costumes and jewellery are the most expressive and the most numerous examples of the traditional creativity of the Macedonians. The national costumes in Macedonia (created over a long period of time), preserved the traces of old cultural influences, and in their way of development fit the elements of old Balkan, Slav and Oriental culture. Above all the product of domestic textile manufacture, the Macedonian national costumes are characterized by richness and ornamentation. Western Macedonia, especially divided into smaller regional units with different ethnic characteristics is a real mosaic of various beautiful national costumes, where the women's costumes are of special interest.
Decorative Macedonian embroidery, characteristic in the forms, technically complex and of picturesque colours give special expression and distinction to the national costumes. The women's gowns are especially decorative, and are the main bearer of this kind of traditional artistic creation. Embroidery is not only an artistic expression and the essential element but the most characteristic of the costumes of different regions.
All of that is an historic heritage that makes Macedonia proud.
Macedonian traditional costumes
Macedonia's traditional, intricately embroidered folk costumes include garments made of coarse, tightly woven wool yarn. Men wear vests, white linen shirts, pants resembling English riding breeches, and a pojas (pronounced PO-yahs)—a wide cloth belt. Women wear ankle-length dresses, a wide apron, a white linen shirt, a pojas, and a head scarf. Men's traditional attire is predominantly black, while women's is red and white. For footwear, both genders wear opinci (pronounced o-PIN-tsi)—leather slippers with a curved tip.
Macedonian folklore music
The ethnic Macedonian traditional music, which can be rural or urban (starogradska muzika), includes: lyric songs, epic songs, labour songs, ritual songs, humorous songs, circle dance ("oro"), the old urban style called Čalgija (not to be confused with chalga) etc.
Popular traditional songs are: Kaleš bre Angjo, Slušam kaj šumat šumite, Biljana platno beleše, Dafino vino crveno, Narode Makedonski, Zemjo Makedonska and many others. Often referenced oro dances are Teškoto from the village of Galičnik, Kalajdžiskoto, Komitskoto (The Dance of the freedom fighters) and others. An internationally acclaimed professional folklore association is the award winning “Tanec”.
Like its people Macedonia’s musical instruments have mixed origins. Many were brought to this land with the various invaders passing through over the centuries, while others are home grown. Playing traditional instruments is seeing a small revival in fusion music and in the revival of ethnic festivities.
Kaval - traditionally a shepred’s instrument, the kaval resembles a flute. It is made of piece of wood about 70 cm long, usually ash, open at both ends and ornately decorated throughout. It prodeuce a lovely warm sound, almost melancholic. You can hear the kaval frequently played in pairs, with the first leading a melody and the second one droning along.
Gajda - Macedonian’s version of the bagpie - its origins are in Macedonia’s mountain villages. Gajdas have four main parts:
-the chanter (gajdarka) - a wooden tube with seven finger holes in front and a thumb hole at the back
-the drone (brcalo) - producing the constand sound
-The duvalo - a wooden pie attached to the bag where the musician blows air init
-the bag itself (mev) - made of tanned sheep or goat skin.
The gajda usually accompanied by a kaval or two, a tambura and perhaps a percussion instrument like the tapanche, dajre or tarabuka.
Zurla - typically played at weddings, social occasions and Turkish wrestling matches, the zurla has a distinct piercing sound that is usually heard well above the drum (tapan) that accompanies. It is a wooden two-part wind instrument, the body of which is a conical pipe. A beak (slavec) is inserted into the upper, narrow part.
Shupelka - a shepherd’s instrument that looks and sounds like a recorder.
Duduk - a blocked-end flute that can be found in two lengths:70cm like the kaval and 25cm.
Tambura - brought to Macedonia in the 14th and 15th centuries via the Turks from the Middle East, the tambura is a long-necked string instrument with a pear-shaped body,made of walnut. It produces a metallic, tingling sound and is played both solo and as [art of an ensemble.
Tapan - this is a good-size drum. What sets it apart is that the musicians of Macedonia play it with two specially designed drumsticks - known as a kukuda and a prachka. The kukuda is a narrow pipe made of wood, while the prachka is more like a thin switch. Each one strikes a different side of the drum and the difference in sound is remarkable; together they produce an impression that something big is about to happen. The tapan is the traditional accompaniment for most folk bands playing at special occasions. You will find it at the Galicnik wedding.
Dajre - essentially a tambourine
Tarabuka - an hourglass-shaped drum, medium size, made of wood and animal skin. Its origins are uncertain. It is quite often used as accompaniment to the tambura.
Macedonian folk dances (ora)
Macedonian folklore bursts with rhythms, fast dancing steps, colorful costumes, vigorousness, and beautiful songs, and is always quite striking. Macedonians danced and created folk dances (ora) both in sorrow and in joy, in suffering and in pleasure. So, themagnificent folk dances (ora) are an valuable heritage to Macedonian folklore. These, adapted to present conditions and grouped into series, are danced and presented throughout the country and the world. Numerous dance ensembles study the Macedonian folklore throughout the country and the world (in the Diaspora) and promote their motherland.
These range from the slow teshkoto, or "heavy" dance, to the exuberant sitnoto, or "tiny-stepped dance."
The dances just like the costumes are colourful and vary from area to area. The list of dances from the region of Macedonia is endless.
The pottery of Macedonia developed and perfected through many centuries was only to be found in the pottery centers until recently - Resen, Veles, Struga, Skopje, Debar, Besovo and especially in the village of Vranestica, in the Kicevo district.
Macedonian pottery is characterised by the ancient forms which reflect the impressions of monumentality, as in the heavy and massive dishes from Debar, Struga, Skopje. The pottery from Resen and that belonging to the Vlasi people, looks very impressive with its long and knightly forms. The pottery dishes are made of clay mostly on a foot-worked potter's wheel and decorated by rather primitive means, colour, graphite, and applications of relief motifs. With their variageted forms and rich decoration, they bear witness to their well-developed sense of the arts and rich imagination.