A Mask-Maker in Ohrid, North Macedonia

In Ohrid, North Macedonia, the Marinov family has been fashioning utilitarian and decorative objects out of copper and brass for one hundred years.

Shawn and I happened upon the third and fourth-generation artists’ small studio one afternoon, while exploring Ohrid’s UNESCO-registered Old Town, which is replete with hundreds of Eastern Orthodox churches. The Marinov shop is filled with handmade warrior’s masks and shields – said to be designed with motifs from the Ancient Kingdom of Macedonia. They also sell jewelry and home accessories.

Ever a young boy at heart, Shawn was instantly drawn to the warrior’s masks. Had our luggage not been already overflowing, I think he just might have left Ohrid with one.

A man, working in a souvenir jewelry shop in Ohrid, Macedonia, holds a reproduction warriors mask, fashioned after those worn in Ancient Macedonia.
A Marinov family member.
A man wears a copper and brass mask inside a souvenir shop in Ohrid, Macedonia.
Shawn acting as an ancient Macedonian warrior for a fleeting moment (left). Handmade shields with the Vergina Sun symbol adorn the wall behind him. On the right, a close-up of the copper mask.

Where in the World?

Planning Pointers:

  • The Marinov shop is located at Kosta Abrash 44 in Ohrid’s Old Town, not far from the lakeside.
  • Are you looking for accommodation in the heart of Ohrid’s Old Town? Shawn and I spent two weeks at the Svetlana Guesthouse (affiliate link), run by friendly and thoughtful Svetlana, along with her extended family. The location was fantastic, as it was about 100 meters to Ohrid’s Ancient Theater, and roughly 200 meters from Samoil’s Fortress. We loved having our own balcony, as well as access to a communal kitchen when we wanted to cook. Svetlana, her children, and grandchildren made our stay in Ohrid extra special – even inviting us to share an Eastern Orthodox Easter lunch with them.
  • Ohrid’s official website offers additional information about the city.
  • This link contains an index of all my posts from North Macedonia.

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Published by Tricia A. Mitchell

Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta; Heidelberg, Germany; and Split, Croatia. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene. A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia. Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.

25 thoughts on “A Mask-Maker in Ohrid, North Macedonia

  1. That whole Macedonia/FYROM is all rather confusing and petty but it must be important to Greece I guess!
    I almost bought a helmet like that in Athens one time but then realised that I wouldn’t get it on to the airline as hand luggage. Oh, and the price was a factor as well!

    1. Andrew, I agree that the naming controversy is confusing. I did some reading on the topic and chatted with locals in both countries while we were in the region, and still wasn’t able to form an opinion. There is certainly passion about the issue on both sides.

      I suppose that if you’d tried to have worn the mask, that would’ve aroused just a bit of suspicion. :) Do you recall how much the masks were in Athens? I think they were about 50 Euros in Macedonia.

    1. Juliann, Andrew (above) mentioned that he’d seen some masks similar to these in Athens, but just not as authentically made. I’m wondering if the Marinov family might ship to the U.S.? Their website that I linked to is in Macedonian, but I translated it with Google Translator.

      Thanks for sharing the link with your friends. How many masks would you say that they have in their collection? Must be great fun to look at and try on!

    1. Darlene, they sure are neat, aren’t they? Though I previously would’ve lamented that I couldn’t bring home such trinkets, I’m now happy that I can remember them through the photos I take. I must confess that I usually have a weakness for small charms for my charm bracelet though. :)

  2. Tricia, The masks are gorgeous – and Shawn is the perfect gladiator! There was a shop down the street from our apartment in Athens that sold very similar merchandise, and now I’m wondering if they may have come from the Marinov family. All the best, Terri

      1. Tricia, James and I had a good laugh over that question – because we didn’t know the answer. So over a glass (or 2) of wine we determined the answer is “well over 50” :) Whew! ~Terri

    1. I agree, Jo. Here’s hoping that the family will be able to keep up the tradition. The town in which they live (Ohrid) is a historic and atmospheric spot that’s popular with travelers, given its beautiful lake and churches. As a result, I think there are a good amount of tourists regularly coming through and discovering the Marinov shop.

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