Lefkaritika in the news again

May 31, 2011

Last year we mentioned that the very distinctive Lefkara lace had been in the news locally.  The lace is very special, so much so that it is now UNESCO listed.

The lace has been hand made by generation after generation of local women who work from designs that are hundreds of years old.  Anyone who has been to the island of Burano in Venice and admired their lacework may recognise the style of the Lefkara lace: travelers from Venice took pieces back from Cyprus to Venice and developed their own designs in the late 15th century.  So local tradition goes Leonardo da Vinci took a particularly fine piece of lace back to Italy where it was incorporated into the alter cloth in Milan cathedral.  More verifiable is that the lacemakers of the Lefkara villages offered lace to Princess Elizabeth in honour of her coronation.

This week Etsy, a superb website that allows designers and crafters to sell their goods online to a worldwide audience, is featuring a lovely video about the lace and its future.  The video highlights two of the challenges that the lace faces: firstly that the numbers of lace makers is slowly declining, and secondly that some places sell inferior machine made or finished lace because it is significantly cheaper but don’t always make that clear.

What the video doesn’t mention is that one of the two Lefkara villages, Kato Lefkara, may have a solution to the second problem at least.  Often tourists don’t realise that they are buying second-rate or imported lace and walk away thinking that they own a true piece of Lefkara lace when that isn’t the case.  To resolve that confusion Kato Lefkara has introduced an authentication process by which a lacemaker can submit a piece of lace to a committee of master lacemakers.  They assess the quality of the work and, if it passes their criteria, the details of the lace are entered into a register of certified Lefkara lace and the lacemaker is issued with a certification to accompany the lace when it’s sold.

Certificates aside there are three quick ways to judge whether a piece of Lefkaritika is genuine:

  • If the price quoted doesn’t make the eyes water then the lace probably isn’t real Lefkaritika
  • Only certain colours are used in the traditional designs: white, ecru and brown are typical so if bright colours are present then the lace may not be true Lefkaritika
  • All Lefkaritika lace is reversible so if it doesn’t look the same front and back then it isn’t the real thing.

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