Opanci with flat end, from North Macedonia
Opinca from Romania

Opanci[a] are traditional peasant shoes worn in Southeastern Europe (specifically Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and also Romania and Albania). The attributes of the opanci (name in plural) are a construction of leather, lack of laces, durable, and various endings on toes. In Serbia, the design of the horn-like ending on toes indicates the region of origin, though this specific design is not exclusive to Serbia. The opanci are also considered as the traditional peasant footwear for people in the Balkan region. In Bulgaria they are referred to as "tsarvuli".


Serbo-Croatian òpanak/о̀панак, as well as Bulgarian and Macedonian opinok/опинок, ultimately derive from Proto-Slavic word *opьnъkъ.[1] Proto-Slavic *opьnъkъ is composed from the following parts:[1]

So literally, òpanak would roughly mean "climbing footwear"[2] or "footwear made from stretched (animal hide)".


Trajan's Column in Rome features Dacians wearing this type of leather shoes. Archeological findings show that the local population was hunting wild game: foxes, deer, badgers, wolves, bears, whose skins were later manufactured. The nobility would wear game skin shoes, the poorer ones would wear calf or swine skin.[3][better source needed] According to Wilkes, opanci were originally a leather moccasin worn by paleo-Balkan peoples as Illyrians, Dacians, Thracians, etc., and later adopted by Slavs.[4][5] In the past the traditional shoes were handcrafted out of leather processed at home. The piece of leather had to be larger than the sole, with holes on the side so that a thin string of leather can be filled in and it wraps the piece of leather around the foot, giving it the form of some footwear. The puckered form gave it a sharp tip. They would be worn over wool stockings or white pieces of clothing. Nowadays they are often used as part of the traditional costume by folk dance groups and folk artists.[6]

Dacian moccasins as seen in a statue at Museum Capitolini

Until 50 years ago, they were usually worn in rural areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, North Macedonia, Romania and Serbia.[7] 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.[8]

Regional varieties

Bosnia and Herzegovina


Slovak musicians wearing krpce


The opanci are part of some variations of the Croatian national costume.



North Macedonia


The crafting of opinci, Romania, Maramureș, 2016


Opanci are known as national symbol of Serbia, and part of national costume of Serbia.

A pair of opanci from Šumadija with horn-like endings
Opanak in Serbia

See also


  1. ^
    It is known as Opanak (Опанак) in Serbo-Croatian, Opinok (Опинок) in Macedonian, in singular; Opanci, Opanke (Опанци, Опанкe) in Serbo-Croatian, Opinki (Опинки) in Bulgarian, Opinci (Опинци) in Macedonian, in plural. There are also other names such as Bulgarian tsarvuli (цървули), vryavchanki (връвчанки), kalevri (калеври). The word has also been adopted into Romanian as opincă and Albanian as opinga.


  1. ^ a b Skok, Petar (1972), Etimologijski rječnik hrvatskoga ili srpskoga jezika, knjiga druga: K-poni, vol. 2, Zagreb: Jugoslavenska akademija znanosti i umjetnosti, p. 651
  2. ^ V. Anić; et al. (2004). Hrvatski enciklopedijski rječnik. Vol. 7. Zagreb: Jutarnji list. ISBN 953-6045-28-1.
  3. ^ "Opinca românescă". Etnografie si folclor in zona Hârlău. 2013-08-15. Retrieved 2016-12-19.
  4. ^ Wilkes, John (1995). The Illyrians. United States of America: Blackwell Publishers. p. 22. ISBN 0631146717.
  5. ^ Ion Grumeza, Dacia: Land of Transylvania, Cornerstone of Ancient Eastern Europe, University Press of America, 2009, p. 129, ISBN 076184466X.
  6. ^ "O INVENȚIE PE ZI Opincile – AGERPRES". www.agerpres.ro. Retrieved 2016-12-19.
  7. ^ Eliznik.org.uk, South East Europe costume, peasant sandals
  8. ^ Smedia.rs, Napravio najveći opanak na svetu! (in Serbian)
  9. ^ "Alexandru Gheorghe Ilinca și opincile dacice".