Lefkara lace best-known traditional Cypriot embroidery
The Lefkara lace, which is the best known Cypriot traditional embroidery with a world-wide reputation, traces its origins from the Venetian occupation (1489-1571) of Cyprus. It has survived and flourished in almost its original form to present day.
This type of drawn and counted thread embroidery, famous all over the world, is made by the women of the village of Lefkara in the province of Larnaca in the south of the island.
This village, high in the mountains, was the principal summer resort of wealthy Venetians and the local women would have come into close daily contact with their household linen. With their keen minds, sharp eyes and deft fingers, soon copied and adapted the old Italian white needlework containing the cut-work, drawn thread-work and reticella fillings common in Italy, particularly in Venice, during the 16th century.
It is reputed that Leonardo da Vinci, on a visit to Cyprus, was so impressed by the Lefkara women’s adaptation of Venetian embroidery that he took a piece of work with the “potamos” design on its back to Italy to grace the altar in Milan Cathedral.
This design is known today as the “Leonardo da Vinci design”.