Island of Hvar

Hand holding a needle and making island of Hvar lace

The skill of making agave lace in the island of Hvar is specific for its material made from fibers extracted from fresh agave leaves. This is the only agave lace in the world.  The Benedictine Church established the first monastery in the town in 1664, after the family of the poet Hannibal Lucić donated his house to the Benedictines. The first nuns came from the island of Rab and since then the monastery has been operating continuously. At the beginning, lace was made by the monastery nuns to decorate the church and to show their devotion. From 1826 to 1886 they opened a woman’s public schools and began to provide women with education in reading, writing and lace making skills.

Today it is best known for its agave lace, which has been made since the 19th century. At that time Hvar sailors and fishermen brought agave lace from the island of Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain), which the Benedictine sisters studied to create a richer, more exquisite, and unique pattern, that became a unique Hvar lacework.

The task of preparing threads for embroidery is long and arduous. It is made from fresh agave leaves not more than three years old. The fibers in the leaves are extracted, kneaded, screened and elongated to a length of at least one meter. After treatment, they form white, stringy, tough and thin threads. Hvar’s lace is made from this thread. Because this material becomes hard and brittle in cold air, it is not conducive to weaving and embroidery at certain times of the year. The thin thread wrapped is woven and embroidered into various patterns and the resulting lace is the symbol of Hvar.

Hvar Lace, as part of Croatian lace-making, was added to the UNESCO List of Intangible World Heritage in 2009.