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The First Croation Female Ethnographer Mara Čop Marlet

Ethnographic Museum Split; [email protected]
Publication Date
  • Mara Čop (Marlet
  • Berks)
  • Académie Internationale Des Palmiers
  • Magyar Néprajzi Társaság
  • Gypsy Lore Society
  • South Slav Women
  • African Women
  • Romanies Women
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Law
  • Literature
  • Musicology
  • Political Science


Mara Čop was born in Livorno, Italy, on August 10th 1858. She used to sign her literary works and other publications either as "Mara Čop Marlet" or "Marie von Berks". To her father Anton Tschopp, an Austrian offices and an engineer later on, originating from a well known merchant family in Karlovac, are being attributed certain contributions in the economic and cultural development of Croatia. Mara' s mother, German by origin, born in Mainz, was first met by her father in Ferrara. In 1886 Mara Čop got married to a French lawyer Charles Lenger Marlet, son of a French senator. With her husband Mara moved to Bruselles, then to North Africa, Algeria. Their marriage lasted for a short time, even their daughter died soon. Mara Čop returned to Croatia. In 1894 she got married again, this time to Hugo Berks, a Slovene landowner und member of the Austrian Imperial council. Thereafter Mara Čop, her husband and their son mainly lived at their two landed properties, either in the South Styria (near Celje) or in Vienna. After her husband's death Mara Čop herself was in poor health and she moved to Gorizia where she died in 1910. She entered the world of literature with her short stories on Croatian themes. As she was less proficient in Croatian she wrote in German. Also she translated her German texts into French. In 1892 she translated and adapted "Psyche" by Ivo Vojnović for the theatre in Graz. At the end of the same year her "Lugoška svatovska pjesma" ("Wedding song from Lugos") was put on the stage in Zagreb. Unfortunately Vienac was not in favour of the play, but her plays were well received in Vienna, Prague, Brno, Olomouc, Stuttgart, Munchen, Ljubljana and elsewhere. Being interested in other writers' works Mara Čop dramatized "Pierre et Jean" by G. De Mauppasant and "A Rebours" by Joris-Karl Huysmanns. While dealing with the loss of power of aristocracy, coruption and conflicts between the old and new in her dramas, in her novels, written in her closing years, she wrote about false morality, inadequate education of the Ethnologica Dalmatica Vol. 12. Split. 2003. 21 youth and alienation of the nature. Mara Čop wrote abouth Hungarian society showing her interest and comprehension for the political issues. She was equally well as a writer and ethnographer being the member of several ethnographis societies such as: Acadéémie Internationale des Palmiers (founded in Paris in 1880), Gypsy Lore Society (founded in London in 1888) and Magyar Néprajzi Társaság (founded in Budapest in 1889). Numerous literary lexicons pointed out Mara Čop's talent for the ethnographis description. She was particularly interested in the south Slav women, the African ones and the Romanies, writing about them in her ethnografic studies. Even her litarary works reflect the folkloristic and ethnographic elements giving the author herself, among those writing in German, such general features. With due respect she described in details the national costumes of those women, the wedding customes and ceremonies, as well as their married lives. While dealing with women Mara Čop also spoke about men, and of course about those peoples in general. Concerning the Muslim nuptial customs she tried to be well informed and build up her own attitudes. This Croatian femme savante represented a well bred, informed and accepted lady in various circles where she could meet professionales of her time such as scientists, politicians, writers, musicians, painters, theatre artists, journalists,and others. Among the domicile names there are J.J. Strossmayer, J.E. Tomić, F. Bučar, V. Bukovac, V. Jagić, while among the foreign ones we find E. Zola, Leconte de Lille, Sully Prudhome, Karl Bleibtreu, Leopold Sacher-Masoch, Juliette Adam, French presindent Grevy, Belgian foreign affairs minister Chimay, Brasilian Imperor, Austrain Grand Duke Joseph an many more.

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