Bezdan is a place surrounded by water and can only be reached via bridges. The last remaining weaving mill for silk damask in Europe is situated in this "water settlement" near Sombor. In Bezdan, fine table cloths and bed linens with original patterns from the mid-19th century are still woven by hand on looms from that period.
- Novitet Dunav Bezdan dates back to 1871. This weaving mill is unique in the world when it comes to the method of production. No other weaving mill has such looms or knows this manner of weaving. This type of loom can only be seen as an exhibit in Lyon - Zeljko Trbojevic of Novitet Dunav says in an interview for eKapija.
Bezdan's damask is a product with the protected geographic origin, it possesses an Old Craft certificate, while the looms are under the state's protection. Novitet Dunav uses Bezdan's damask to make table cloths, napkins, bed linens...
- Damask is made of cotton (51%) and viscose silk (49%). Although it is of high quality and has a high-gloss surface, it can be washed at 90 degrees Centigrade. They come in 60 different patterns - says our interlocutor.
The products made of Bezdan's damask have already found their place in numerous residences, embassies, exclusive hotels and restaurants...
- The Embassy of Brazil to Belgrade has furnished its premises with our damask. The Embassy of Indonesia buys our products to give them away as protocol gifts. We have recently been honored by the visit of their ambassador who wanted to expand that cooperation. We have also received incentives from the Ministry of Economy to make a souvenir to enrich the souvenir offer of Serbia - says Trbojevic.
Our interlocutor points out that this damask is included in the protocol gifts of foreign embassies, but that this brand of Serbia has not yet found its place in the protocol gifts of our institutions.
- We have furnished the residences of all presidents - from Tito to Tadic. We would like our damask, as a Serbian product, to represent Serbia in protocol gifts as well. We have asked government institutions for help many times because it is hard to survive in the market without an assistance from the state. We would not like to be forced to let this product to foreign investors.
Novitet Dunav presented its products for the first time in early May this year, at the of textile companies in the Frankfurt Chamber of Industry and Commerce. As people at that company explain, visitors showed a big interest since it was the first time for them to see such product.Zeljko Trbojevic says that Novitet-Dunav now produces 1,000 square meters of damask a month and that it would be able to produce up to 5,000-6,000 square meters if all of its capacities were employed.
- We have obtained some funds from the state to spend it on the repair of our looms. We have asked the National Employment Agency to teach people how to use these looms. We cannot delegate people from our staff to do that because then there would not be enough people to produce damask and we would not be able to survive in the market - our interlocutor explains.
He mentions the increase in the price of cotton from 12 to 18 euros per kilogram last year as a problem, while another problem is lack of appropriate locally made yarn.
- We used to purchase cotton from the company Yumco and viscose from Loznica-based Viskoza. Both companies are now out of work and we are forced to import cotton and viscose silk from Italy.
Novitet Dunav is also often visited by groups of tourists because they find it interesting to see a unique old craft, buy interesting souvenirs, and tour the natural beauties of Bezdan and its surroundings.How did it all start?
Bezdan was mentioned for the first time in written documents of 1579, as a village with 10 families. By the charter of Empress Marija Terezija, it acquired the status of "free and royal town" on April 10, 1771, which is a significant privilege that cost its inhabitants 1,010 forints. That small town comprised 400 houses at the time and was inhabited by farmers, fishermen and 51 craftsmen, including 15 weavers.
That weaving tradition was improved and completely changed by Janos Schmidt, an artist weaver, who came to Bezdan in 1871. After receiving a support from the state, with the obligation to hire minimum 5 new workers, he started weaving damask using imported, specially processed flax from Czech Republic and England.
After the World War II, Bezdan's private weavers joined their funds and formed the weavers cooperative Dunav on November 1, 1951, at 2 Zrtava Fasisma street.
The name and the organizational form of the entity have been changed many times since then. It is now called Novitet-Dunav - the weaving mill for silk damask.