A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE TRADITONAL OHRID WOODCARVING
The treatment and decoration of wood are one of the oldest professions in which man feels the connection with nature in the best way. Due to the brittleness and the easy inflammability of the wood, it is impossible to speak with certainty of the first works of art and monuments of woodcarving. The oldest preserved artifacts from woodcarving in Ohrid are the prominent icon of St. Clement of Ohrid from the end of the 13th century, the single door of the St. Nikola Bolnicki Church, and the iconostasis in St Vraci Mali from the 16th century.
In the period from the 15th to the 19th century, woodcarvers made wood-carved iconostasis, doors, bishop thrones, and other furniture elements for the churches of Ohrid. In the 17th and 19th centuries, the Ohrid woodcarving craftsmen work for the private and social building, making their interior parts - ceilings, wardrobes, built-in wardrobes, doors, and other pieces of furniture. The masters work in gangs and have a secret language. In the 19th century, woodcarvers from the region called Miacka worked for Dzeladin Beg, Osman Beg lodgings, in the homes of the Robevci family. At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, expensive crafts have no place in the market, so there was a significant decline in woodcarving art. But very soon will begin a new chapter in the art of wood carving in Ohrid.
The recovery of the woodcarving tradition
In the first decades of the 20th century, the government was interested in cultural heritage and ancient artistic crafts. Under the guidance of the sculptor from Kragujevac Branislav Jovanchevikj in 1928, (with the help of the bishop of that time Nikolaj), in the dining room of the church of St Holy Mother Of God Of Peribleptos, was opened the Ohrid Woodcarving school. That was the first attempt to save a craft and the art of the old woodcarvers from oblivion. In 1932 the school was reorganized and received the status of State School of Men's Trades, where were learned two professions: woodcarving art and carpentry. At the end of the school year, they regularly exhibit, with their works participating in numerous exhibitions in Belgrade and also in New York. In that time in the Ohrid woodcarving school graduated 26 carvers. After the liberation, the school continues with the work, but then in 1949, it is closed. In that period, was formed the studio of the woodcarving art Andon Dukov, which worked until 1962 and allowed 30 students to learn and work in the woodcarving and carpentry plant. There they discover their talent, the sense of beautiful things, the patience with the work - the most valuable characteristics that every woodcarver-artist must possess.
Ohrid woodcarvers have made many masterpieces together - ceilings, interiors, workrooms; Assembly Libraries in Belgrade, Skopje, Montenegro, and Macedonian Academy Of Sciences And Arts; Cabinet of Former President of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; the cabinet of The House of Culture in Ohrid, Palas Hotel, the City Library; the ceiling and library of the Ohrid Museum and many different works sent to many countries around the world. Old woodcarvers from Ohrid say they worked hard and could fulfill every customer's wish. Between 1962-1964, some of the woodcarvers work under the protection of the National Museum, which in 1975 opened a woodcarving studio. Studies with different masters - woodcarvers existed in Ohrid also within the companies Bistra Produkt and Sloboda. In 1984 in the EMO factory was also opened the woodcarving department, where a large number of young pupils learned the craft of carving for more than twenty years.
In Ohrid today, there are about 30 carvers, which discovered this craft from the old masters. Only a few of them live from this profession, but for most of them, the woodcarving is a type of hobby or as additional income. Although there is no school of woodcarving, the tradition of woodcarving art is continuously passing to the younger generations.