Traditional Serbian Opanci
Opanci with flat end

Opanak (Serbo-Croatian: Opanak, pl. Opanci/Opanke, Serbian Cyrillic: Опанак, pl. опанци/опанкe, Macedonian: Опинок, pl. опинци, opinci; Bulgarian: pl. опинци, opintsi[a]) are traditional peasant shoes worn in Southeastern Europe (Balkans: Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and Bulgaria). The attributes of the Opanci are: a construction of leather, lack of laces, durable, and various ending on toes. In Serbia, the design of the horn-like ending on toes indicates the region of origin. The concept, and the word, exists in Romania (as opincă) which is borrowed from Slavic. The opanaks are considered the traditional peasant footwear for people in the Balkan region.



Serbo-Croatian (Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian) òpanak/о̀панак and Bulgarian/Macedonian опинок all ultimately derive from Proto-Slavic *opьnъkъ, which itself is a compound of the prepositional *o(b)- "around, on, etc." with final *b assimilated and the resulting greminated consonant cluster *pp being simplified to *p, and the vrddhi-lenghthened root vowel of the verb *pęti, originally meaning "to strain, move" (cf. modern standard Serbo-Croatian verbs conveying the same notion such as nàpēti/на̀пе̄ти, pròpēti/про̀пе̄ти, ràspēti/ра̀спе̄ти, pòpēti/по̀пе̄ти..), but subsequently coming to mean "to climb" (whence the meaning of modern standard Serbo-Croatian pȇti/пе̑ти, pènjati/пѐњати). So literally, opanak would roughly mean "climbing footwear".[1]

Regional varieties

  • Šumadija (in Central Serbia)
    • Šumadijski opanak s kljunom, shoes with peak at toes.
    • Šumadijski opanak bez kljuna, shoes without peak at toes.
    • Kačerski opanak or Stariji Šumadijski opanak (Older Šumadijan opanak), with low back, curved peak at front, with woven front upper, a low back and leather ties.


Until 50 years ago, they were usually worn in rural areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania and Serbia.[2] Nowadays, they are only used in folk costume, for folkloric dance ensembles, festivals, feast days or other cultural events.

The largest Opanak in the world, in the Guinness World Book since 2006, is the 3.2m shoe, size 450, weighing 222 kg, made by opančar Slavko Strugarević, from Vrnjačka Banja, Serbia.[3]

See also

  • Opanci, settlement in Lovreć, southern Croatia


  1. ^ Spellings and variants:
    • Serbo-Croatian is a language group of the mutually intelligible Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Serbian languages; It was used as the official language of Yugoslavia 1918 - 1991. The used spellings are Opanak, pl. Opanci / Opanke (Опанак, pl. опанци / опанкe).
    • Bulgarian variants include Цървул, pl. Цървулите / опинки / връвчанки / калеври.
    • Adaptations into other language: Romanian language: opincă, Albanian language: opinga.


  1. ^ V. Anić et al. (2004). Hrvatski enciklopedijski rječnik. 7. Zagreb: Jutarnji list. ISBN 953-6045-28-1. 
  2. ^ Eliznik.org.uk, South East Europe costume, peasant sandals
  3. ^ Smedia.rs, Napravio najveći opanak na svetu! (Serbo-Croatian)

External links

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