DELMONaS of Lithuania minor
The Living Tradition
Delmõnas - is a traditional detail of women's clothing in Klaipėda region, which served as a purse and a handbag, and is not found in other ethnographic regions of Lithuania. Based on the proposal of Klaipėda Centre of Ethnic Culture this valuable object was included in the Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Lithuania in 2019.
The authentic late 19th c.–early 20th c. handicrafts are preserved in museums and private collections as part of the legacy of Prussian Lithuanians (local residents of Lithuania Minor). The women of the region wore the delmonas constantly, it was a practical accessory of traditional clothing, tied with a multipatterned ribbon at the waist under the apron so that only its edge was visible. The delmonas worn when leaving the house for church, visiting guests or for the market was beautifully decorated. Keys, a penknife, money, a handkerchief, and a comb were placed in the delmonas.
The main way to decorate these bags is to embroider them with threads and glass beads. The embroidery is done on a dark, usually black wool or velvet fabric with threads of different types, thicknesses and colours using different embroidery techniques. The main decor motifs of Prussian Lithuanian delmonas are the depiction of plants in the form of a bouquet, a branch, a tree, a ring or a wreath, decorated with initials, date and significant text.
In 2020 – the Year of Folk Art – Klaipėda City Municipality Centre of Ethnic Culture prepared a virtual exhibition “Delmonas of Lithuania Minor. The Living Tradition”. It introduces nine embroiderers of delmonas as well as their works. These nine authors are: Aina Endružienė, Valerija Jurevičienė, Elena Matulionienė, Ieva Matulionytė, Ramunė Našlėnienė, Daiva Rekašiutė, Bronė Surdokienė, Ilona Tulabienė, and Irena Ungaro. The virtual exhibition is expected to grow in the future.
Today, the delmonas is becoming very popular and is worn not only with the national costume of Lithuania Minor, but also goes well with modern clothing as a practical, ornate accessory that often emphasises one's identity. Klaipėda Centre of Ethnic Culture actively takes care of the preservation and propagation of this valuable object: it implements the Crafts of Lithuania Minor project during which lectures are organised, delmonas-making workshops and exhibitions are held. “Delmonas of Lithuania Minor. The Living Tradition” exhibition is part of this project.
Ph.D. Elena Matulionienė,