Matyó Heritage – living traditions of embroidery, dress and folklore

Matyó Heritage – living traditions of embroidery, dress and folklore (2010)

Matyó or Matyóság is the collective term for the ethnographic group that emerged in the 18th-19th centuries in the historic market-town of Mezőkövesd at the juncture of the lowland Great Plain and the mountainous highlands in east-central Hungary.

Locally the inhabitants of neighbouring Tard and Szentistván villages as well as settlements at the foot of the Bükk mountains are also considered Matyós, however there are considerable differences culturally and the true Matyó cultural identity was always associated with Mezőkövesd. The residents of all three communities identify with the Matyó heritage and incorporate numerous elements of it in their daily lives and celebrations.

The unique folk art of the Matyó people developed as a result of the traditional folk culture, social structure and way of life - also reflected in the layout of the settlement. These were borne of an intellectual refinement rooted in a fervent Catholicism leading to centuries of economic, social and cultural development. At the time of the formulation of the Hungarian national cultural identity (turn of the 19th-20th  century) Matyó folk art gained widespread popularity as the emblematic expression of ‘Hungarian-ness’.

The expressions of Matyó folk heritage: folk art, religious traditions, celebrations and rituals, traditional handicrafts and trades, folk dance, songs and music, poetry and language dialect are all as yet living elements of community life and culture. The Matyó culture is not a static heritage, but one that is in constant flux, ever recreated in content by the community that lives it. This vibrance reinforces the sense of identity of successive generations.

Hungarian National Commission for UNESCO
Elemér Muharay Folk Art Assosiation
Assosiation of Hungarian Folk Artists
Institute of Ethnology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Kriza János Ethnographic Society
Hungarian Ethnographic Society
Museum of Ethnography
Hungarian Heritage House
National Cultural Institute