Kvarner newsletter / no 23

Kvarner's best souvenir
Worldwide recognition of Rijeka's Morčić

Do you know what a Morčić is? It's quite possible you have already encountered it, without knowing that this figure of a Moor with white turban is Rijeka's best-known symbol and souvenir, recognised across the world for its attractiveness and historical importance.

Small head of a Moor with white turban, locally known as the Morčić, is Rijeka's most famous souvenir. This year the Morčić has got several awards and a promotional leaflet. The story about Morčić, which has been translated into as many as 30 languages, shortly describes the historical importance of this figure, which is a popular souvenir and recognisable symbol of the town of Rijeka and the Kvarner area. Morčić was declared the best souvenir of the Kvarner County within the traditional Blue Flower competition, organised by the Kvarner County Tourism Office.

Morčić mostly appears as jewellery – mainly earrings, but it can also be bought as brooch, or a decoration for ring or pin. It is also produced as figure in various sizes, offering visitors a wide range of choice when deciding what to buy.

Local seafarers and fishermen once used to wear the Morčić earring as a protection against evil. Two legends make mention of Morčić. The first legend dates back to the 16th century and tells about a glorious victory of Croats against Turks on the plain of Grobničko polje. The legend has it that after the battle, only white turbans were left of the defeated Turks lying in the plain. To celebrate the victory, men had earrings with black heads and white turbans made for their wives. The second legend comes from the Pelješac peninsula in the south of the Croatian coast, which only proves how widespread this figure is. The legend tells about an Italian contessa who gave freedom to her black maid, and had earrings made in memory of her.

Today it is not known which of the two legends is based on true events. Maybe neither, however it is only important that over time, the figure of the Morčić has become an indispensable part and a symbol of Rijeka and the surrounding areas. Since this is a really beautiful souvenir, which many Rijeka's visitors buy for themselves or as a present for a dear person.