Examining the Mezőkövesd embroideries known from the second half of the 19th century we find examples representing the oldest embroidery style among the pure linen sheets ornamented with cutwork and white flat stitches. This technique and the geometrical stock of motifs was widespread through the country in the 1800s and is strikingly uniform. The emergence of a local style can be observed on the sheet ends with a “shoe and bird” pattern drawn in freestyle on finer home-made linen and worked in red and blue cotton thread. The composition is reminiscent of the earlier embroideries of the nobility: bush motifs placed side by side, often with bird motifs between them, or rows of roses, buds and rosettes with supplementary motifs. From the 1870s an entirely new influence appears on the sheets, using the embroidery technique of leather embroideries where dense motifs fill the available space. The first pieces of this type were done with plain red and blue cotton thread and later yellow appears as a supplementary colour. The influence of leather ornamentation in the composition strengthens and the typical motif elements are developed: “matyó rose”, “heart-rose”, tulip, leaves, buds. Embroidered ornamentation also appears on men’s costume around this time: the wide shirtsleeves of fine linen were first ornamented with white cut-work that was gradually supplemented with red matyó roses and other embroidery elements, until the cut-work disappeared altogether.
A further stage in the development of the embroidery was the change in the quality of the threads used, the refinement of the textiles and the introduction of new colours. In the 1880s multicoloured woollen thread first appears in the embroidery on sheet ends, bringing a new range of colours to matyó embroideries. It was around this time that embroidery in coloured woollen threads appeared on blue-dyed aprons, an accessory to men’s and women’s costumes. Later this was to become the item of clothing with the most varied ornamentations in Mezőkövesd. Introduction in the 1890s of the silk thread used in leather embroideries meant a further enrichment and brought more new colours. This silk thread was used for sheet ends, shirtsleeves and aprons alike. Later the use of artificial silk embroidery thread became the general practice but it was less suitable for working finer, more detailed motifs.
Before the First World War matyó embroidery began to be produced for commercial purposes and artificial silk embroidery thread was generally adopted. These home textiles mainly went to middle-class homes and they reflected the “taste” of the client, both in the use of motifs and compositions and in the shades of the colours which differed from the matyó style (…) An interesting area where the matyó embroidery style was used was ecclesiastical textiles where the motifs appeared from the 1930s: church symbols (e.g. bunch of grapes, ear of wheat) can also be found on these among the matyó roses.