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Decorative Hungarian Folk Art Painting

Being of Hungarian descent I have a fascination with the folk art and culture of the Magyars. Enjoy the beauty of it with me in these hubs.

Color Everywhere


Color and Decoration is the Hungarian Way

Hungarians like to decorate things and they are quite good at it. In fact, certain areas of Hungary are particularly well known for their decorative arts. If you love folklore art and paintings, then you will love the many distinct Hungarian styles that are displayed here.

From what is probably the most famous, Kalocsa folk art, to other regions like the Matyó, the folkstyle decorative art is alive and thriving.

"Flowers and leaves, sometimes a bird or a spiral ornament, are the principal decorative themes. The most frequent ornament is a flower with a centerpiece resembling the eye of a peacock's feather." -

You can see the identifying characteristics from patterns in the ancient forms, such as the Szekely gates (kapu), to the inclusions of the flowers and swirls in the modern illustrations of Willy Pogány, who brought his Hungarian inflected design to the covers of magazines and the pages of books in the early 20th century.

Ancient Church Decoration


Make Your Own Folk Art

Like Tole painting, the folk arts of Hungary were usually practiced by the common people. Most can be accomplished with a bit of practice.

Interiors with Flowered Motifs


Try Your Own Hand At Hungarian Painting

Use Folk Art Designs To Decorate Items Artistically

Find tutorial design guides, one is here, and get your paints and brushes out.

Elements Of Magyar Style:

  • Color and intricate designs that recall nature in a stylized way.
  • Strongly cover the entire surface.
  • Use highly saturated pigments which create bright colors in primary and secondary hues.
  • Be colorful and creative like the Hungarians!

The photos and how-to videos on this page can be your inspiration.

Wall Painting, Pingálás, in Kalocsa Style

Can you name the flowers? Roses, dahlias, bellflowers are some of those included in this floral design.

Can you name the flowers? Roses, dahlias, bellflowers are some of those included in this floral design.

Szekely kapu

Szekely kapu renovated with bright painted colors.

Szekely kapu renovated with bright painted colors.

History of the Szekely Kapu - Decorated Ancestral Gates of Hungary

This entry is from the Hungarian Club site.

Origins of the ancestral carved gates of Transylvania span thousands of years before [Christ] and transcend beyond the boundaries of the Carpathian Mountains to Mesopotamia and the Far East. Similar to the ancient "Silk Route" that connected Central Europe to the Far East...

This ancient art with a system of mythical symbols and richness of form is still practiced and still inspires Hungarian Szeklers of Transylvania in creating their home environment and preserving their traditions to this day. The "Székelykapu" had symbolic meaning which separated East from West artistically as well as geographically and politically

...Runic inscriptions on front of the gate "The Lord has brought thee here" while on the other side departing guests can read "The Lord be with thee".

[Ancient decorations from Ur had similar designs to]...motifs of Hungarian but especially Transylvanian Folk Art such as the upward scrolling or spiraling lines, tree of life, sun as central motif, runic symbols, five and eight petal rose, pomegranate and cornflower.

...In the top center under the roof and pigeon loft, the traditional sign of the sun, symbol of Úr is carved and under it the ancient greeting ISTEN HOZOTT.

...the main post which separated the large wagon gate from the small walk-in gate, displayed the family history in runic writing (rovàs iràs). Each generation added its share of history and when all sides were filled, a new supporting post was hewn from oak and placed on either side of the walk-in gate.

As runic writing became obsolete, the custom of carving family history into the gateposts also faded away. Besides the inherited symbols and decorations, only the greeting, name of the homestead builder and date of completion was carved into the gate and remains as tradition in our time."

Since these gates were a part of the estates with a wealthy class of family , they were fallen into disuse during the Communist times. Many remaining gates no longer had the painted colors that are shown in this photo.

"the Székely gates are a beautiful example of folk architecture. In 1920, after the Treaty of Trianon ceded Transylvania to Romania, many Hungarians left the region as refugees. For many, the destination of choice was Debrecen: a market town near to the new border. In addition, several faculties of the university in Kolozsvár, now Cluj-Napoca, were transferred into the university at Debrecen. As refugees, they brought only their most important possessions - often-times including their gates. Hence, Debrecen has quite a few of these old gates built into 1920s-era homes.- An American in Debrecen "

Scroll to Continue

This Gate was Once Painted With Bright Color


Painted Furniture

Painted Furniture

Painted Furniture

Arts are preserved in the Kalotaszeg region.

Arts are preserved in the Kalotaszeg region.

Kalocsa Region Is Most Famous For Folk Painting Today

The word Kalocsa originates from the Latin colocae which means "made from mud".

Wallpainting is one of their most famous forms of decoration, and folk artists paint colorful flowers against the whitewashed walls of their homes. Even the outdoor mud daubed ovens do not go without decoration!

The rose and tulip are the popular favorite motifs, but pansy, forget-me-not, carnation, snapdragon, foxglove, lilac, poppy, cornflower, black locust blossom, rosemary,- and even more than that- find their portraits painted in the unique stylization of the Kalocsa artists who are mainly women.

Called "Writing Women", they draw and then embroider their designs on white and pastel fabrics or paint them on white walls. Today, these embroidered goods are highly desired. It is believed that the decorative motifs from the embroidered clothing was the basis for the painted designs that are now used on all sorts of objects in daily life.

Fine Painted Porcelain

Other Regions Of Hungary

Harta, a community consisting mainly of German inhabitants who began arriving in 1723-24 to replenish the population and farm the land, developed some very fine decorative painting skills which they applied to furniture and small household items. The key motif is a centered bowl full of flowers.

The Swabians history of dates back to the invitation to German people to repopulate Hungary after the devastating wars with the conquering Muslim powers.

The Kalocsa Folk Art Painting How-To

An interesting look at artist drawing and then painting a Kalocsa style flower motif.

Hungarian Painting How-To

Hungarian Design

Compare the painting and embroidery motifs of Hungarian Design, they are very similar.

Compare the painting and embroidery motifs of Hungarian Design, they are very similar.


From the region of Mezökövesd

A decorative style for the people of this region of Hungary. As a people they are considered of Slovakian origin.

A book on their designs says, "The Matyó people are one of the ethnographical groups that emerged relatively late. It was only in the 18th-19th centuries that the folk culture of Mezökövesd and the villages of Tard and Szentistván traditionally regarded as belonging to it became distinct from their environment, largely due to their Roman Catholic population. Their decorative art acquired its distinctive forms in this period, differing even from each other in their details. " -The Matyó Roses

After the National Exhibition in 1896, their decorative embroidery became popular.

They became famous for their rose designs, and many of their crafts have a single color, predominantly red.

Matyo Wedding Costumes

Matyo folk costume with colorful embroidery. Decorated clothing as well as painted surfaces in their homes was common in the peasant villages; each had a distinctive style.

Matyo folk costume with colorful embroidery. Decorated clothing as well as painted surfaces in their homes was common in the peasant villages; each had a distinctive style.

Drawing And Painting A Matyo Design

Willy Pogany, Hungarian Artist

Willy Pogany Art. Hungarian folk art motifs are incorporated into his painted illustration.

Willy Pogany Art. Hungarian folk art motifs are incorporated into his painted illustration.

Visit Hungarian Decorative Arts Vicariously

Even if you don't understand the language, the beauty of the designs and the land speak for themselves.

Take A Visual Tour Of Hungary

Hungarian Painted Pottery

Besides furniture and wall surfaces, the pottery is painted with the same beloved motifs in the common pottery. Fine porcelains have been made since 1826 in the Herend company.


Hungarian Artist Painting On Ceramics

Hungarians are colorful - -commentary welcome

almawad on January 05, 2014:

You will find so many different style of folk art in Hungary ! Great topic !

hysongdesigns on September 24, 2011:

beautiful folk art; thank you for sharing!

Runnn on September 06, 2011:

Beautiful arts. Thanks for sharing.

Ilona E (author) from Ohio on September 01, 2011:

@sukkran trichy: Thank you so much for saying so! I appreciate your thoughtfulness and support.

sukkran trichy from Trichy/Tamil Nadu on September 01, 2011:

awesome. thanks for sharing this beautiful hungarian decorative painting page. really enjoyed my visit.

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