Easter cards from the NUL Print Collection
Marking Easter holidays, the members of the Print Collection of the National and University Library in Zagreb put on a small exhibition of selected Easter cards preserved as part of the Collection’s holdings. The exhibited cards originate from the first four decades of the 20th century and bear witness to a very lively correspondence of that time when such and similar other cards probably served as the only means of communication between people separated by large distances. The back side of these cards very often reveals much more than their visual content on the front. The recipient’s address, as well as the message written by the sender, frequently provides us with many cultural details significant for the period in which a particular card was written and sent. Especially interesting among the cards preserved in the Collection are those sent to many prominent persons in Croatian cultural, scientific and public circles of that period, such as those addressed to Dr. Elza Kučera, the first female librarian in Croatia.
Easter, as the most significant Christian festival, represents the basis for the Christian belief in eternal life. The cycle of death and rebirth is thus yearly celebrated throughout the world, through various customs having both universal and culture or region-specific features. One of the universal elements in the celebration of Easter is the decoration and colouring of Easter eggs. Colourful Easter eggs surrounded by bunnies or chicks symbolizing rebirth and new life are frequent motifs in the majority of Easter-related handiwork and other products. Especially frequent among such products are Easter cards which are distinctly bright and cheerful and in this way highly reminiscent of the recent awakening of spring. The motifs of small children, as well as flowers, rabbits, chicks and lambs frequently represented as having human characteristics are markedly colourful almost always having a strong Sun-like shade of yellow. Such cards may seem somewhat mawkish, but at the same time they express joy – a more than suitable element in the celebration of Easter. Furthermore, Easter motifs include various Biblical scenes surrounding the resurrection of Christ. The works of numerous Croatian artists appear on the cards displayed at the exhibition. They also represent various Easter customs from different parts of Croatia showing Croatian people celebrating Easter dressed in Croatian traditional folk costumes and decorating Easter eggs, walking in ceremonious processions, or dancing. Some of the most significant works of the great names of Croatian art appearing on the cards preserved in the Print Collection of the National and University Library in Zagreb are those by Andrija Maurović, Slavko Tomerlin, Otto Antonini and many others. Motifs appearing on these cards thus vividly represent the rich heritage of Croatian folk customs and regional traditions which were passed on by greeting cards from one to the other part of our homeland or even farther, to the farthest ends of the world.