Folk costumes

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Mini Album of Folk Costumess
In the past there were 4 types of folk costumes in Cieszyn Silesia and each of them was
specific for ethongraphic groups living in the area. People stopped using 2 of them in the 19 th
century but 2 others are still worn in the region. These costumes are: Cieszyn and
highlanders folk costumes.
Cieszyn folk costume
Cieszyn folk costume is also known as Silesian folk costume was worn in the majority of the
lowland part of Cieszyn Silesia around the towns of Cieszyn, Skoczów, Bielsko and Frysztat.
The male folk costume was worn only to the second half of the 19 th century, whereas the
female costume became more and more popular and spread even in the highland parts of
the region, e.g. Brenna, Górki, Ustroń, Wisła or Jabłonków. Previously in this area the
costumes of Silesian highlanders prevailed.
Nowadays Cieszyn folk costume, especially the women’s one, is worn by some women
during important local and church holidays.
Cieszyn women’s folk costume
This costume was rich in elements of jewellery and very elegant. There were a few elements
of the costume:
Czepiec – on her head a woman worn a lace cap with a decorative part, which covered
forehead; a headscarf was worn over czepiec – they were worn only by married women
Kabotek – a short, waist-length blouse with puffed sleeves reaching to the elbow
Żywotek – a kind of corset on straps; it was richly decorated with decorative patterns, silk
threads, sequins, beads forming a colourful mosaic. Żywotek was sewn together with an
ankle-length skirt which could be 5 metres wide.
Fortuch – an apron which repalced skirt and consisted of front and back aprons
Cieszyn women’s folk costume is also famous for its jewellery. A set of jewellery of a wealthy
woman consisted of:
Orpant – a piece of jewellery consisting of four chains attached to braces of żywotek
Pas – a belt, the most valuable part of the jewellery, usually silver. It consists of small silver
plates joined by a chain
Hoczki – metal items with small wholes, which enabled żywotek to be laced up
Cieszyn men’s folk costume
The costume was elegant and consisted of the following elements:
Kłobuk – a black stiff and tall hat with a wide brim
Koszula – a white linen shirt
Bruclek – a navy blue or black linen waistcoat worn over a shirt
Szpyncer – a kind of short coat worn on colder days over a bruclek
Galaty – a blue/dark blue linen trousers; they were usually narrow and were held up by a
leather belt which was wound around the waist several times
Poloki – elegant leather boots usually worn by rich men
Folk costume of Silesian highlanders
This costume is characteristic for highlanders living in Cieszyn Silesia in the following towns
or villages: Wisła, Istebna, Koniaków, Jaworzynka, Piosek, Bukowiec, Nydek. It is still used by
highlanders in important moments of their lives, e.g. church holidays, marriage and
outstanding local events. The specific parts ot the costume were made of linen or wool –
materials that were available for highlanders.
Women’s costume
There were a few elements of the costume which were called similarly as the elements in
Cieszyn folk costume:
Czepiec – on her head a woman worn a lace cap with a decorative part, which covered
forehead; a headscarf was worn over czepiec – they were worn only by married women
Ciasnocha – a long underskirt which served as underwear
Kabotek – a short, waist-length blouse with puffed sleeves reaching to the elbow
Fortuch – a kind of knee-lenth skirt
Modrziniec – an ankle-length blue apron worn over fortuch
Kyrpce – leather shoes
Men’s costume
Kłobuk – a black sometimes beige or greyish hat
Koszula – a white linen shirt
Bruclek – a black or red woollen waistcoat worn over a shirt
Gunia – a kind of woollen coat worn during colder days and winter
Nogawice – woollen trousers
Kyrpce – leather shoes
Czech Republic
Moravian folk costumes
Moravian folk costumes belong to folk traditions. Wealth and fertility of the region are
reflected in decorations of the costumes. Each town and village has a unique one.
Men´s traditional folk costumes
Men´s folk costumes consist of wide black hat, a vest with a row of bottons, a collar and
embriodery. The shirt is made from four upright parts and has wide sleeves. It was tied by a
lace around wrists and a neck. Lether trousers reached the knees and men wore high black
boots, blue stockings and a handkerchief which was put into the pocket.
Klobouk – a black hat
Kordula – a vest
Flór – a black collar
Koženky – leather trousers
Holínky – high black boots
Women´s traditional folk costumes
Women´s folk costumes were comprised of a bodice called kordulka which reached the
waist. The main decoration of the bodice was a pleated ribbon lining the neckline. It was red
and decorated with embroidery. Sleeves were tied with red ribbons and the collar was lined
by embroidery or lace. The skirt was pleated and ruched. It was made from canvas.
Kordulka – a bodice
Rukávce – sleeves
Pentle – ribbons
Tacle – a collar
Kanafas – canvas
The structure of Romanian traditional clothing has remained unchanged throughout history
and can be traced back to the earliest times. The basic garment for both men and women is
a shirt or chemise, which is made from hemp, linen or woollen fabric. This was tied round
the waist using a fabric belt, narrow for women and wider for men. The cut of this basic
chemise is similar for men and women. In the past those worn by women usually reached to
the ankles while men's shirts were shorter and worn over trousers or leggings made from
strips of fabric. Women always wear an apron over the chemise. This was initially a single
piece of cloth wrapped round the lower part of their bodies and secured by a belt at the
waist, as is still seen in the east and south east of Romania. In Transylvania and the south
west of Romania this became two separate aprons, one worn at the back and one at the
Men's traditional clothing throughout Romania comprises a white shirt (cămasă), white
trousers, hat, belt, waistcoat and or overcoat. Local differences are indicated by shirt length,
type of embroidery, trouser cut, hat shape, or waistcoat decoration. In most areas shirts are
worn outside trousers, which is the older style. This is a basic Balkan man's costume largely
uninfluenced by fashions from west or east. Hungarian and Saxon men living in Romania
wear trousers with a more modern cut often made of dark material rather than white. This
reflects their closer ties, and more frequent communication, with the west.
The outer garments worn by both men and women are similar, the main differences being in
cut and decoration which depend mainly on the region of provenance. These garments are
usually made of sheepskin, or felted woollen fabric, and decorated with leather appliqué and
silk embroidery.
Traditional clothing worn on workdays and festivals used to be similar, the main difference
being that the festive dress, especially those worn for weddings was more richly
embroidered. In the past the headwear worn by the bride was especially ornate with specific
local styles. In poorer areas basic clothing with little or no embroidery has always been
The various pieces of costume have gone out of use at different times during the 20th
century. The first item to disappear in many areas were leather peasant sandals (opinci),
although these could be seen in poorer villages again in the years just after the communist
regime fell. In most rural areas men's traditional trousers were replaced by modern factory
made trousers by mid century and in the post communism years jeans has become
universally common. Traditional over garments became an expensive luxury, new garments
only being purchased by people living in the very wealthy villages. More recently the
traditional jacket makers in many areas have died with few new artisans being trainer to
carry on their craft.
However if you look closely in the more remote areas some older people still wear items of
traditional clothing. This can be for women a gathered black skirt or dark wraparound with a
blouse of local cut either with or without a leather waistcoat. In Oaş and Maramureş even
young girls often wear the local fashion costume on Sundays. This is normally made from
brightly coloured material, in Oaş a dress, in Maramureş a skirt. Added to the local costume
is the latest fashion in blouses and footwear such as white lacy blouses in Maramureş and
platform shoes or stilettos, in both regions. Men usually have "western " trousers or jeans
but may have a local shirt, or local shaped hat, although unfortunately the universal trilby is
fast replacing these. Certain items of costume, specific to occupations, are still worn, for
example men working in the forestry industry wear the wide leather belts (chimir), usually
now over a T-shirt and jeans. Men's traditional fur hats (caliciulă) are still worn in winter in
rural areas, and women usually wear a printed woollen scarf, and often a traditional straw
hat over this when working in the fields in the summer.
Blouse (ie) with gathered neck (cămaşă încreţită), with a wide rectangular strip of red
woollen embroidery across the shoulder (altiţă), and vertical stripes (râuri) on the front and
Underskirt (poale) with a row of co-ordinating embroidery on hem.
Wrap round skirt (fota) made of a single width of black woven woollen material, with a wide
woven border on the front, and hem with geometric motifs in gold and silver thread, and a
narrow row of motifs above this on the back
Narrow woven fabric belt (brâu) with woven motifs in red and gold thread
Waist length sheepskin jacket (pieptar), decorated with black embroidery on front, pockets
and along seams
Straight shirt with gussets (cămaşă cu barburi), with yellow embroidery on hem, sleeve ends
and round neck, and outlining the front seams of the gussets in a characteristic 'M' shape.
Wide leather belt (chimir)
Chemise with yoke (cămaşă cu platcă) and square neck. Sleeves are gathered at the
shoulders and wrists, with frilled cuffs and frills on yoke and shoulders. They are decorated
with white embroidery and open work, with a narrow row of black, and blue embroidery on
the cuff gathers.
Sheepskin pieptar edged with appliqué leather decoration and decorated with embroidery in
red, blue, yellow and green wool and inset with small pieces of mirrors and studs.
Striped aprons (zadii) made of a single width of woven wool with horizontal red, blue, green
and black stripes.
A beaded necklace (zgardane) made of several rows of small multicoloured beads threaded
onto strings.
Like the entirety of Hungarian folk culture, Hungarian folk costume amalgamates
Eastern and Western influences, yet at the same time the results of its own
internal development make it characteristically Hungarian.
The Eastern origin of certain articles of clothing can be indicated not only by their
names but much more by their straight-lined cut. This makes the task of sewing
and piecing together easier, but almost completely eliminates waste and helps
considerably to save on the basic material, which was difficult to obtain. This
ancient method of cutting must have been reinforced by the coming and settling
of the Cumanians and Jazygians, and later on by a century and a half of Turkish
rule. Garments with this type of cut have survived almost until this day (suba,
guba, szűr, certain kinds of shirts and gatyas, etc.). At the same time the
curvilinear cut must have come from the west and became increasingly popular
along with the diffusion of manufactured and factory-made materials.
Besides their cut, Hungarian folk costumes are also characterized by their
colourful appearance. This is a relatively recent development, since a few
centuries ago the natural colours of the materials dominated (white, yellowish,
brown). The folk costumes that flourished in the last century were predominantly
red, although blue was also much worn while the older people used the darker
colours. With the spread of various types of broadcloth, darker colours became
predominant in men’s wear.
All of the above, together with the typical head and foot wear (boots), comprise
the characteristic elements of the Hungarian folk costumes of the past one
hundred years, which, though they differ by region, yet have much in common.
The specific folk costume of our region is called székely costume, as the subgroup
of the Hungarian people living in this area are the székelys.
Székely folk costumes, although similar in their basic elements, still differ in many
details. Their common feature is that they themselves produced a significant part
of the basic materials for their clothing until recently. The girls braid their two
braids from three to four strands of hair, while married women tie a bonnet with
frills (csepesz) on their hair, more recently a kerchief. Hair is pinned up in a knot.
The blouses of women, made of linen, have a frilled collar and narrow cuffs; linen
and cambric petticoats are generally worn. In the summer they wear a tight vest
over the shirt, decorated with beading or braid and edged with colourful velvet.
Their skirts were made of homespun material, with stripes of black, brown, red,
and blue. This was later replaced by a cotton skirt(rokolya). A woollen or cotton
apron of a different colour is always tied in front of it. In the winter they wore a
sheepskin vest (bundamellény) or a szokmány or kurti (short coat), made of thick
brown or gray homespun frieze. Feet were covered with soft-topped boots, later
on with shoes.
Beginning with the end of the last century, young men who had served in the
army began to wear short hair instead of the usual long hair (körhaj). A widerimmed felt hat, or in the winter a fur cap, was worn on the head. Formerly men’s
shirts were without collar and cuffs, but these were replaced by linen shirts with
collars and cuffs. Here the gatya, made of linen, became underwear at an early
stage. The most characteristic garment of the Székely costume is the broadcloth
hose (harisnya), made primarily of white wool, flapped (with the opening on the
two sides) and very tight, on which the decoration indicates social standing. The
ornamentation of the sleeveless, braided vest, worn over the shirt in the summer,
conforms to that of the hose. A sleeveless leather vest was worn during most
parts of the year. The body is protected from winter cold by a brown homespun
coat (zeke, szokmány, cedele, bámbán) or by a long leather coat. During the last
century the laced sandal was worn on weekdays, the boots for holiday footwear.
In Bavaria, there are many different traditional costumes, which differ in the
region of Bavaria. In our region which is called Lower Bavaria (Niederbayern)
but also in the Upper Palatinate (Oberpfalz) the women have a short or a long
dress with pinafore made out of feastful material. It is called “Dirndl”. And the
men wear leather trousers which are often combined with a hat. The most
valuable detail of such a traditional hat is the “Gamsbart “ - consisting out of
dark hairs of a chamois buck. You can spend out a few hundred euros for this
authentic jewelry.
It is used as an everyday dress primarily by older women in rural areas. Other
women may wear it at formal occasions (much like a Scotsman wearing a kilt)
and during certain traditional events. It is hugely popular also among young
women at the time of a Volksfest, like the very famous “Oktoberfest” in
Munich or the “Straubinger Gäubodenvolksfest”, although many women will
only wear dirndl-style dresses, called Landhausmode, which may deviate in
numerous ways and are often much cheaper.
People, who are very associated with their tradition costumes, also wear it
when they go to church service, on weddings or on religious occasions.
In popular culture it is sometimes reported that the placement of the knot on
the apron is an indicator of the woman's marital status. A knot tied on the
woman's left side indicates that she is single, a knot tied on the right means
that she is married, engaged or otherwise "taken", a knot tied in the front
centre means that she is a virgin and a knot tied at the back indicates that the
woman is widowed.
Traditional costumes from lower Bavaria
The more common Dirndls worn for the Oktoberfest, for example
Portuguese Traditional Costumes
The Alentejo
Southern Portugal
The costume consists of a skirt, a shirt, a scarf,
a hat, socks, apron and shoes.
The costume of the Alentejo woman has no special features, however, during large farm
chores, they showed up all dressed up as the work they were performing, the olive
harvesting, weeding or harvesting.
They also had the custom of wearing some kind of shorts with skirts, pinning him between
the legs with a safety pin. Wore a red and yellow alloy cord, which they did and that held
their skirts and stockings at once. The socks are usually brightly colored, leather shoes with
laces, shirt striped cotton or the flowers, scarf and hat.
Beira litoral
Northeast Portugal
Long skirt and blouse with laces on sleeves. A
colourful, fringed, long shawl drawn from left
to right. A brown woven wool apron known as
sergilha. Black varnished slippers, without
socks, and a *canastra in her hand.
The Salineira is a traditional figure in Aveiro.
She used to carry a canastra on her head (65 –
75 kg of sea salt), from boats to the
* Wicker basket.
Northeast Portugal
A shawl with a silk trimming
A black skirt of embroidered silk, with roundness until the ankle;
A silk and coloured scarf tied at the front and at the back;
A white blouse of fine cotton, with mirror and lace;
Handmade, lace-trimmed, cotton, white stockings;
Black low-heeled clogs
When the Tricana went to the Romaria (traditional party), she used to take the shawl folded
in her arm. When she went to the church, she used to wear it round her shoulders.
"Tricana" was a quality of fabric, but later, the same word
referred to the woman of the ordinary people who wore a
garment made exactly with this fabric. The "Tricana" of
1870 was a woman whose parents were wealthy farmers,
and tried to excel when she got dressed to go to any
popular feast or to the church. It was the name by which a
woman of the people in Coimbra region, but also in Aveiro,
Ílhavo and Ovar was known until the beginning of the
twentieth century.
The Azores
The Azores islands
Women wear a sober black woollen costume which
can be in dark blue. The costume consists of a cloak
and hood with a serge skirt with rich trimmings on
the lower half, a white pleated shirt with lace and
inlays, an embroidered white linen apron, a bright
headscarf of the same colour as the skirt and
Men wear a black woollen suit comprised of onepiece pants with openings on the sides, a jacket
trimmed in black, waistcoat, white linen shirt
embroidered in blue, headdress made of black wool
on the outside and red felt on the inside with flaps
covering the back and black boots with red
Background information:
The most distinguished of the Azorean costume is
unquestionably the cloak and cap, worn by rich women of
the Island of São Miguel, the closest to the European
The traditional Capote and Capelo date from the 18th
century and are now only worn at traditional festivals.
Once an important producer of tea, tobacco, pineapple
and oranges, the Azores islands have turned to livestock
and tourism as their principal means of income.
Beira baixa
Castelo Branco; Centre East Portugal.
Women wear a black apron (with some traditional drawings); a yellow skirt; a red waistcoat
and a white shirt; and some traditional clogs.
Some people wear a white lace on their neck and a golden necklace with a traditional
Portuguese heart.
“Beira Baixa” is constituted by 13 ”municipalities”.
Castelo Branco district: Belmonte, Castelo Branco, Covilhã, Fundão, Idanha-a-Nova, Oleiros,
Penamacor, Proença-a-Nova, Sertã, Vila de Rei, Vila Velha de Ródão.
Coimbra district: Pampilhosa da Serra.
Santarém district: Mação.
Estremadura, West
Small round hat made of black
velvet, and with a feather of the
same colour; a colourful scarf
placed beneath the hat; blouse
with floral themes; a flannel plaid skirt; culottes; an apron with stripes or simple; two
petticoats, one of cloth lined and the other with stripes and finally beneath the hat they
had a black veil.
“Varina” is the name given to the women who used to sell fresh fish in a “canastra”*door
to door.
* Wicker basket.
Madeira island
Archipelago of Madeira, west of Portugal
Generally speaking, women a multi-coloured
striped skirt, a white blouse, a red bodice and a
colourful head covering complete this
traditional outfit.
Men wear white suits with bright sashes and
country caps called "barrete de orelhas"
(woollen caps with ear flaps).
Both men and women wear short sheepskin
boots (botas de cano).
Background information
The origin and evolution of the Madeira traditional costume is not defined yet. It is thought
that it had various influences either national or foreign (this includes the North of Portugal,
Moors, Africa or Flanders).
Regional dances often tell stories of day-to-day activities: the harvest and transportation of
grapes (of wheat in Porto Santo) and other labours. The group dance to the sound of music
played on native instruments such as the rajão, machete, braquinha and viola. The beat is
always kept by a "brinquinho" an instrument that comprises of a stick covered with puppets
that have castanets attached to their backs.
Viana do Castelo (Minho) in the North of Portugal.
Lavradeira costume
The base layer is a linen chemise, camisa, with blue floral satin-stitch embroidery on the
front, the shoulders, upper sleeves and cuffs. There is a band of smocking at the top of the
sleeve as well.
The skirt, saia, is made of heavy wool or
linen. If of wool, it has a background
colour of either red or blue/green, with
narrow stripes of other colours widely
spaced. It may be left plain or it may have
embroidery which matches the black part
of the bodice.
A kerchief is worn on the head. A similar
scarf is worn on the shoulders for the
Lavradeira costume. They come in
various colours, but they have mostly the
The apron, avental, is hand-woven of
thick wool; designs are formed by pulling
small loops of yarn out, so that the
design stands out from the background. It is double gathered in the same way as the skirt.
There is a separate bodice, colete, which is always sewn in two parts. The upper part is of the
major colour of the outfit, red, blue, or green, and the lower part is black. There is usually an
ornament in the shape of a heart.
A separate pocket, algibeira, is worn with this costume. It is embroidered and is in the form
of a stylized heart. While this is decorative it has a practical purpose in carrying keys, wallets,
handkerchiefs, etc.
Backless slippers with a low heel, chinelas, are worn, or like many peasants all over Europe
they often go barefoot. These may be plain or embroidered. Knit stockings are worn with
the chinelas. There also exist stockings without feet, which may be worn when barefoot or
with the slippers.
The lavradeira costume is not complete without an abundance of gold jewellery.
Background information:
Bright and vivid colours are a peculiar feature of Portuguese national clothes. In Minho
region women prefer bouffant long skirts made of striped or checkered.
The red version is considered to be the 'happy' version, and is worn by younger women. The
blue or green versions are worn in times of semi-mourning or other sadness, such as the
absence of a loved one, and by older women.
The red or blue costume was indifferently used by the girls, but when they married almost
always said goodbye to red and started using only blue.
There is usually a line of embroidery, trim or braid along the seam, and varying amounts of
embroidery on the bodice. An amazing variety exists, from quite simple to very colourful and
Pauliteiro de Miranda
- Miranda; Northeast
Waistcoat in burel* (thick woollen cloth: tweed),
embroidered with needlework retail, shirt (cotton or
linen), cotton white skirts trimmed with English
embroidery. Over the skirts: 4 scarves. Woollen socks,
boots, hat trimmed with flowers and two wooden
* Burel is a very durable wool-fabric whose
production belongs to an old handicraft typical in the
Portuguese mountains Serra da Estrela
Background information
Pauliteiros de Miranda is the name given to groups of 8 men who dance traditional rhythms
of Miranda in northeast Portugal, Tras-os-Montes. One supposes that the use of these skirts
by men has Celtic or Roman origins. The shape of this skirt and hat trimmed with flowers had
also led to the analysis that this costume could have already been used in celebrations of
summer solstice with markedly pagan roots.
Nazaré, West Portugal
Nazarene woman
Working women wore several petticoats: first a
white one, above this 2 or 3 colourful flannel
petticoats, a pocket, one cashmere or terylene
petticoat, above all a dark-colour apron with
pockets, a simple blouse, headscarf, shawl and
However, it was during the feast days that the
Nazarene woman showed all her elegance as well
as the richness of her family; wearing white under
petticoat, above this, several colourful petticoats
(the famous 7 full petticoats), covered by a satin
apron artistically embroidered, a flowery blouse
with lace sleeves, headscarf, black cape, varnish
mules, and a gold chain and earrings.
Nazarene man
The men wore tartan shirts and tartan trousers with a black band wrapped around the waist
and a black wool stocking-cap. In the working costume the fishermen wore tartan breeches,
pleated and large, with wool strings on the hem, so that men could wear it loose, tight or
tucked up, according to their needs. Neither the trousers nor the shirts had pockets and the
personal objects were kept inside the stocking-cap. Usually the fishermen walked barefooted.
Background information
The feminine costume was used either for working or for festivity days, it reflects the woman’s
personality, but it is also adapted to her daily work - preparation, selling and drying of the fish.
Thus, being practical, functional and protector against the cold and the sea breeze, allowing, at
the same time, free movements but keeping the women always covered and “decent”.
The fishermen costume was adapted to the conditions of the sea, offering freedom of
movements, being simultaneously light and warm.