Credit: Moravští Chorvati

Exhibition Maps Past and Present of Moravian Croats in Breclav Area

An exhibition mapping the history and present-day lives of the Moravian Croats since their arrival in the Breclav area in the 16th-century was opened in Jevisovka on Saturday by the local branch of the Association of Croatian Citizens in the Czech Republic, its Vice-President Lenka Koprivova told CTK.

The premises hosting the exhibition are the first completed part of the Croatian House, which the association has been building in the village. Tours of the exhibition will be available by appointment, Koprivova said.

In the 16th century, 2,000-3,000 Croats fled their homeland in fear of Turkish raids. They settled in the southernmost parts of Moravia, the then-sparsely populated areas of Breclav and Hodonin. Gradually they assimilated, but in Jevisovka, Novy Prerov and Dobre Polje, they retained their identity, including customs, language and culture, until the end of the 1940s.

After World War II, the communists removed them from the borderland and moved them to various places throughout Moravia.

“The exhibition will guide visitors through the story of the Moravian Croats – including their arrival in Moravia, an outline of what life was like in their original villages, how they differed from the surrounding population, and to help them understand why they were displaced,” Koprivova said.

One interesting feature of the exhibition is the original recordings of Moravian Croatian from 1910, made by Brno ethnographer Frantisek Pospisil. They are among the oldest surviving sound recordings in the world and are part of UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage. There are also contemporary documents, photographs and folk costumes, which the Croats wore as ordinary clothes, not only on festive occasions.

An estimated 800 Moravian Croats still live in the Czech Republic. The Association of Citizens of Croatian Nationality in the Czech Republic also organises a traditional Croatian feast, called kiritof, every year in early September in Jevisovka. It is a festival full of dancing, singing and wine, among other things.

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