Songs were written about Balkanska Street, and now this street is writing a love story that is nurtured and passed on to new generations. In the heart of Belgrade, there is a craft shop called “Kišobrani” (“Umbrellas“), where rare and precious knowledge is passed down to now the third generation.
While carefully observing her mother’s work since childhood, Tatjana Živković today proudly holds the title of master of umbrellas. She was the one that has helped this story to survive, passing the knowledge she inherited to her children. We spoke with Tatjana about the value that artisanal work had in the past and how it has found its place in consumer society today.
While growing up, Tatjana was always surrounded by this craft, perceiving it as something natural, but without giving it much thought that it would be something that she would do in her future. After school, she would take her friends to her mother’s tiny shop, where a dozen of them would gather and continue socializing, laughing and being joyful. She learned the trade by watching her mother, listening to her conversations with customers or when she thought aloud about how she could solve a problem.
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The biggest obstacle to crafts today is the established habit of consumer society that replacing an existing product with a new one is easier than trying to repair and maintain it. However, a segment of society still prefers quality and sentimental values. As Tatjana says, most of her customers are emotionally attached to their umbrellas, so they are less interested in the price.
“People no longer value things emotionally, but financially, and we should ask ourselves why how we became this way. An umbrella you inherited from your parents or even grandparents will serve you much longer than any umbrella you can buy in stores or online today. It always makes me happy when young people bring an umbrella they found in the attic, the basement, or some other place where we usually leave old things,” says Tatjana.
The shop tries to restore such umbrellas to their former glory and satisfy the customer. In return, they enjoy the feeling you get when you restore a forgotten thing with your hands and bring it to its purpose again. Umbrellas about a hundred years old were brought to the shop for repair, which they managed to do flawlessly. Currently, they have several umbrellas in the shop that are over 80 years old.
Prepared by: Katarina Vuinac
Read the story in the new issue of the Energy portal Magazine RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES