General description: A young unmarried couple from Krakow
Man 15 (with feather) x 8 x 4.5 cm
Woman 12 x 7 x 5 cm
Unpainted circular wooden base 8 x 8 x 0.3 cm
Date when acquired 2010s
Original Date Unknown but in internet similar dolls are given as “vintage”
Source The base has the following words under it: Spoldzielnia Pracy R.L. I A. im. St. Wyspianskiego w Krakowie. Laki Regionale Sww 2826-121-064-905-W, Lalka pary h-12, Cena umowna, Hnad made, wzor zatwierdzony przez EKK. It also has the Cepelia logo (see below).
Present from Fritz W.; found at a flea market in the Bochum region.
Handmade dolls with clay or papier maché (?) heads and painted features. The rigid arms and legs and most probably the body are made of plastic. The dolls are standing together on a circle of wood
The woman’s long blonde hair has a central parting and is woven into two long plaits reaching down to her waist. The man’s hair is brown and straight and is cut to be level with his chin.
The young woman or girl is wearing a stiffened wide red skirt down to below her knees. It has roses painted on it in pink, white and yellow, with green leaves. Her apron is made of white lace, with a pattern of flowers woven into it. Under her skirt is a stiffened white petticoat and white underpants. She has a long plain white cotton blouse on with ruffs at the cuffs and around her neck. The back of the ruff is decorated with two ribbons tied in bows and hanging down to the hem of her skirt. One is pink and the other a golden yellow. Her black bodice is decorated with a pattern of red and gold circles and lines. Around her neck are three loops, possibly mimicking coral necklaces. She has a floral headdress around her head. On her feet are (painted on) boots reaching midway up her calves.
Her companion is wearing the typical four-cornered red krakuska hat, with a band of black around its edge. On its left side, it is decorated with a feather and two long tassels (red and yellow) that hang down to his waist. His costume consists of red and white striped trousers tucked into his boots (like those of the girl) and a long-sleeved white cotton shirt. The collar is closed by a red tassel. His sleeveless waistcoat is made of black felt with red trimming around its edges. It is held in place by a reddish brown leather-like belt with a gold buckle and decorated with a loop of leather with a row of metal rings attached to it. There is a row of five French knots embroidered in orange thread on each side of the front, with three dark green tassels. The bottom of the waistcoat is split into four flaps, two at the front and two at the back.
Krakow is considered to be the genuine cultural hub of Poland with its culture dating back to 900 BCE. The men from the Krakow region traditionally wear a blue waistcoat with stunning embroidery and tassels, striped trousers made of fine linen or cotton (tucked into the boots) and a belt with metal rings attached to it. The shirts are usually sewn from white linen. Very rarely were they adorned with white embroidery. The shirt’s only adornment was a red ribbon or a silver pin with coral. The adult men wore various types of hats, the most decorative being the krakuska, a cap ornamented with long red or colourful ribbons tied so the ends hung down over the shoulder and peacock feathers. Another type of hat, the calendr, was made of black felt and yet another was made of white wool.
The female attire worn in the vicinity of Krakow had many variations and options. The woman’s costume included a white blouse, a vest that was embroidered and beaded on both the front and back, a full skirt, an apron, a red coral bead necklace, and lace-up boots. The top summer skirts were made of silk, linen, or batiste, while the winter skirts were woollen. At the turn of the 19th/20th century, the skirts tended to be factory made. The long and wide skirts were either floral or plain green, blue, red or white. On special occasions, the outer skirt was made of richly embroidered white satin. The shawls were mainly red and made of tulle, silk or wool. They were decorated with floral motifs. The most commonly worn shoes were laced black boots with a high heel.
The type and embellishment of the women’s headdress depended upon the season and marital status. Unmarried women and girls sometimes wore a flower wreath with ribbons on their heads, while married women wore a white kerchief. The most important and yet most valuable headwear — bonnets or scarves —were first worn by women once their bride’s veil was removed.
Cepelia Foundation: The aim of this foundation is to protect, organise, develop and spread the folk and artistic handicraft, art, and artistic industry. The Cepelia Foundation undertakes actions aimed at safeguarding the conditions for creating new and cultivating traditional values of the material culture of the Polish nation, preserving the cultural identity of the nation, and taking part in the creation of the contemporary Polish culture. In 2009, it celebrated its 60th birthday.
With a population of over 38.5 million people, Poland is the 34th most populous country in the world and it is one of the most populous countries in Europe. Poland is geographically diverse and is split into nine historic regions: Greater Poland, Lesser Poland, Kujawy, Masuria, Mazovia, Podlasie, Pomerania, Silesia and Warmia. Due to its diverse history, many ethnicities have lived and are living in the country. According to a 2002 census, ca. 97% of the population consider themselves Polish, while ~1% declared another nationality (~2% did not declare any nationality). The largest minority nationality and ethnic group in Poland is the Silesians, the others include Belarusians, Czechs, Germans, Jews, Lemkos, Lipka Tatars, Lithuanians, Roma, Russians, Slovaks and Ukrainians. The Gorals, an ethnicity living in the mountainous regions, have a distinct culture but consider themselves Polish (see 1.15.a Goral: General Information).
The area that would become Poland has been colonised by humans since early times. The most famous prehistoric archaeological find is the Biskupin fortified settlement (now reconstructed as an open-air museum), dating from the Lusatian culture of the early Iron Age, around 700 BCE.
Throughout Late Antiquity (2nd and 8th centuries CE), many distinct ethnic groups populated the region though the ethnicity and linguistic affiliation of these groups have been hotly debated; the time and route of the original settlement of Slavic peoples in these regions lacks written records and can only be defined as fragmented. Poland’s first documented ruler, Mieszko (of the Piast dynasty), converted to Christianity in 966 CE, and so set up Poland as a state. The Kingdom of Poland was founded in 1025. Polish society flourished during the rule of the Jagiellon dynasty in the late Middle Ages. During the Renaissance, the Polish people emerged as an idiosyncratic cultural nation having its own features embellished with Germanic, Latinate and Byzantine influences. In 1569, Poland cemented a longstanding political association with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by signing the Union of Lublin. This union formed the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, one of the largest and most populous countries of 16th and 17th century Europe. Once a leading European power, the Commonwealth ceased to exist as an independent state, following several territorial partitions among Prussia, the Russian Empire and Austria from 1772 to 1795. Poland regained its independence in 1918 at the end of World War I, reconstituting much of its historical territory as the Second Polish Republic.
In September 1939, World War II started with the invasions of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. After the war, Poland’s borders were shifted westwards under the terms of the Potsdam Conference. With the backing of the Soviet Union, a communist puppet government was formed, and after a falsified referendum in 1946, the People’s Republic of Poland was established as a Soviet satellite state. During the Revolutions of 1989, Poland’s Communist government was overthrown and Poland adopted a new constitution establishing itself as a democracy. Despite the large number of casualties and destruction the country experienced during World War II, Poland has managed to preserve much of its rich cultural wealth, including 14 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and 54 Historical Monuments, in addition to many other objects of cultural heritage.
The design and the appearance of a costume depend on the region of Poland it comes from and especially the historical background of the region, climatic conditions, type of industry, socio-economic relationships and marital status. Accordingly, there is an enormous range in the traditional and folk costumes of Poland. The main characteristics of the traditional costumes found in Poland nowadays are typical of the country’s former peasant culture. All of the costumes involve a high level of craftsmanship (especially embroidery), bright colours and symbolic aesthetics.
The biggest bloom of Polish traditional clothing was in second part of the 19th century. Between the World Wars, the costumes started to be treated as festive clothes not as casual, everyday garments. Although modern Poles no longer wear their traditional costumes in their daily lives, the Polish clothing heritage is often showcased at cultural events, traditional festivals [e.g. the Harvest Festival (Dozhinki) which has been celebrated after the harvest since the time of the feudal system in Poland] and special occasions such as weddings.
Due to the great diversity, I will only provide information about a few of the costumes.
The archaic Polish costume is typified by the Biłgoraj outfit found in the south-east of Poland. It is made of linen. The hats originally worn by women are called chamełka or rańtuchem. Archaic embroidery motifs decorating the dress’s curve and ogee. The leather shoes, tyszowiaki, are rather peculiar as there is no distinction between the right and left shoe.
The ethnic Polish community of southern Lesser Poland is known as Lachy Sądeckie. The dresses for women are decorated with superb floral patterns and beadwork with typical Lachy Sądeckie motifs (see Lachy Sądeckie doll). They also wear embroidered aprons and kerchiefs. Men’s folk costume has ciosek under the collar and beautiful embroidery on the shirt and vest. They also sometimes wear Kaftan-shaped coats decorated with metal buttons, silk tassels, red wool appliqué and embroidery.
Krakow, the second largest and one of Poland’s oldest cities, dates back to the 7th century. It is considered to be the genuine cultural hub of Poland and has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish academic, cultural, and artistic life. Nowadays, it is one of Poland’s most important economic hubs. Its traditional costume is used to typify Polish culture (see the three Krakow dolls).
Opoczno lies on the Wąglanka River, in the north-western corner of historic Lesser Poland. Opoczno costumes are characterized by the thick, woven, striped material used for the dresses, capes and aprons. The material was traditionally coloured using natural dyes and hand-woven on wooden looms. The fabric is tightly gathered at the top so that the cape displays nicely over the shoulders. Capes were worn during the colder months instead of coats in many regions of Poland.
The Krzczonów folk costume of Poland is the best known traditional dress. It comes from a village in the Lublin Province. In the women’s dress, the chemise is embroidered on the cuffs, collar, shoulder pieces, and sometimes around the front opening with special Krzczonów embroidery; this was later replaced by cross stitch. The apron is unique, in that it is basically a short version of the skirt, gathered into a waistband and wrapped completely around the body. The bodice is the typical Polish lace-up type, known as a gorsetka. The men’s costume is based on a shirt which has a cut identical to the women’s, except the collar is smaller, and the shirt itself is shorter. It is worn outside the pants. It has embroidery like the women’s, but with no or less extensive embroidery on the shoulders.
In Lesser Poland is an ethnic group called the Lemkos (aka Ruthenian), which have Ukranian affiliations. The basic garment for Lemko women in Poland is a chemise, sometimes separated into two garments, the shirt and the underskirt. Traditionally, the dress was adorned with minimal embroidery or hemstitching on the collar and cuffs. The skirt was originally made of linen, from flax for dress occasions and hemp for every-day wear. The aprons often had ribbons sewn on and a panel of contrasting material. The waistcoat is called the leibek and was usually made of wool. The most delicate part was a broad collar-shaped necklace strung of seed-beads. Men also wore a leibek though simpler in design. Short sheepskin vests (kozhushok), similar to those worn all through the Carpathians were also worn. The fleece is worn on the inside, the edges trimmed in lamb’s wool, the suede coloured yellow, and a floral motif was embroidered on the two front panels. The men’s costume tends to be quite plain, the summer outfit consisting of plain white linen pants and shirt. Wool pants, either light or dark were worn in cold weather.
The most distinctive Lemko garment is the chuhania, a coat-shaped mantle, with a flap on the back in place of a hood, and short sleeve-shaped pockets attached at the shoulders. This resembles nothing worn by either the Ukrainians or Poles. It is reminiscent of the Hungarian szűr. Similar garments are also worn by Slovaks and Croatians.
The Biskupian outfit, also called dzierżacki, it is the most iconic symbol of the Biskupian, a regional group who are the residents of several villages in the south of county Gostyń. The costume was most commonly used in the period between the two world wars, mainly for church and festivals. The women wear peasant skirts with a white apron, which has beautiful embroidery on it. The hat that most woman wear is very similar to the bonnets worn by peasant women in olden times. The men’s attire is very similar to the horse riding gear, with Jodhpur-style trousers, short jackets, a hat and leather boots.
The costume from the mountainous region, Świętokrzyski also has its specialities. The men wear a brown russet coat with the left lapel turned inside out. On their heads, they wear a cornered, navy blue hat with a hatband made of black lamb fur. The footwear consists of high-heeled leather boots, sewn on the sides. The women wear a basque-style embroidered bodice ornamented with colourful crossing ribbons. Unmarried women wore headscarves, while married women wore bonnets. Stockings (mainly white) were sometimes worn.
The Lowicki outfits are worn in the villages in central Poland. The outfits for women consist of wide colourful skirts, aprons tied at waist, white blouses with wide embroidered sleeves, and black leather shoes. The headgear is different for married and single woman. The men wear white shirts, colourful wide trousers tucked in leather boots, colourful belts around the waist, and round caps. The Lowicki outfit has evolved over the years, the biggest changes has affected the young women’s costumes as they wanted to enrich their clothing range. The most common materials used are the striped cloths, which became famous in the 1820s and 1830s. Not everyone could afford to buy this costumes, so the owner of a costume had to take care of it for many years. Sometimes the clothes that a woman received as a dowry had to last her for the greater part of her life
The Leczyca outfit also belongs to a region in the central Poland. The most striking feature in the dress here is the use of striped fabric. Both men and women use striped fabric to make their skirts, aprons, jackets and trousers. Men and women both wore black leather shoes, though women also wore laced heeled boots. The headgear was different for married and single women, while the men wore round caps.
This Southern Polish region was and is inhabited by several ethnic groups. The costumes therefore show very great variation.
The basic element of the female costume in Silesia was the oplecek, a back cloth with a dress and a bra with a skirt sewn to it. The other parts of the costume included an apron, a white plain waist-length shirt (kabotek), a bonnet and a scarf. The costume was made of silk and wool. Skirts and aprons were long and broad. On festive occasions, girls wore wreaths made of artificial flowers, decorated with long, wide patterned ribbons. The men’s costume includes a characteristic coat with a cloak, which has been popular since the early 20th century. The costume included a thin shirt (usually embroidered), trousers and shoes, so-called Polish zgrzyboki. In summer, the head was covered with a hand-made straw hat that was worn about the house and in the fields. In contrast, in winter, a cap made of lamb fur with a cylindrical base but cone shaped up to its top (baranica) was worn. On festive occasions men wore czopki, wide-brimmed hats made of black or less frequently grey felt.
The costumes from Cieszyn, a border town, are very elegant and rich in bewitching patterns and sophisticated colours. The women’s skirts were sewn with fabric panels 6-8 m long and 5-6 m wide. Traditionally, the female folk costume featured silver jewellery.
General description: Young man dressed in the flamboyant clothes of a character in one of the epic Hindu myths (possibly Vishnu due to the five-pointed star around his neck).
It is possible that this figurine is a golu, a doll made especially for Bommai Kolu (aka Bomma Golu or Bombe Habba) a doll and figurine display festival celebrated during the festival of Navratri in Southern India (in the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh). However, it could also come from any of the SE Asian countries with a Hindu population.
Dimensions 22.5 x 13 x 8.5 cm
Date when acquired 2015
Original Date Unknown
Source Flea market in Göttingen, Germany.
His rigid body made of papier maché is formed in a classical dance pose and stands on a wooden block (9.3 x 8.5 x 0.9 cm) painted black. His fine features are painted on. His black hair and moustache are also painted on. On his forehead is a representation of the third eye (ajna chakra), which refers to the gate that leads to inner realms and spaces of higher consciousness.
His body is in a classical dance posture, the tribanga (see below).
His right hand is in a hasta or mudra (classical Indian hand gesture typical of statues and dancing) where the index finger (air or the planet Jupiter) and the thumb (fire or human consciousness) form a circle. The other fingers are bent. The circle formed by the thumb and index finger mean apparently union. The meaning of the whole single-hand gesture (asamyuta hasta) I am not certain about but it could be a representation of the Chin Mudra (a symbol of unity which also grounds the person).
In his left hand he is holding a white flower, possibly a lotus. The lotus is the foremost Hindu symbol of beauty, prosperity and fertility. It represents eternity, purity, divinity, and is widely used as a symbol of life, fertility, and ever-renewing youth.
His toe and finger nails are painted red. Red in Indian mythology denotes bravery, protection and strength.
The doll is bare-chested and bare-footed. He is wearing tight velvet short trousers to just below the knees. Gold zig-zag braid hems the legs and a pattern made of red beads and gold sequins has been sewn on each knee. Around his waist is a sarong in a fine starched cotton in a cream and light brown pattern. The sarong is folded at the front to hang down to the floor.
Around his waist is a cummerbund made of gold and black shiny braid, held in place by a woven black belt with a gold oblong at the front with a circular design in gold beads with a red bead in the centre. Hanging down from the cummerbund at the front is a semi-oval piece of black velvet covering the stomach. It has narrow gold braid along its edge and forming a U shape in the middle. Around its edge are long fringes made of pinkish orange fibres. Five sequins held in place by red beads decorate the front. Two of such sequins are also on each of the black velvet oblongs hanging down over the hip bones to mid-thigh. Above each sequin is a design of three short rows of green and gold beads. Golden tassels hang down from the oblongs.
At the front of the cummerbund is a piece of golden material hanging from two chains of golden beads. The material is cut in a curve with narrow gold braid around its edge and three gold sequins with red beads decorating the front. Two rows of three beads (2 gold, 1 red) are to the right and left of the central sequin. Hanging down on each side of this decoration to the knees are large tassels made of the same pinkish orange fibres as around the stomach-piece, bound by gold braid and hanging on chains of gold beads.
A fine turquoise tulle shawl with long fringes is tucked into the belt to form a loop over the front of the body to mid-thigh and long side lengths down to the floor. Holding the fringe in place on each are three golden sequins each with a gold bead in the middle. Tucked into the back of the belt is a similar shawl but in a golden tulle. The loop goes to just below the buttocks.
On his head is a headdress made of black velvet in a dome-like shape with a top knot on top. Around the base is a gold band with a pattern made of gold sequins and red, green and gold beads. Five narrow strips of gold braid form a five-star pattern at the crown and then run down to the headband. At the back of the headdress is a gold wing-like structure again decorated in variously coloured beads and gold sequins.
Over his arms and down his back is a piece of thick paper delicately cut out to give an intricate form. From the front it is golden but on the back the red, green, black and gold design seems to show a mythical creature. The creature has a yellow and red eye. The creature is possibly Garuda, the humanoid bird that acts as the mount for the god Vishnu.
Tucked in the back of his belt is a short sword whose cross guard has one long curved side and one shorter one. If the doll is a representation of Vishnu, then this sword is Nandaka, which is a symbol of knowledge in Hindu scriptures.
Around his neck is a long necklace made of white beads that is tucked in under his belt. It is held together at the middle of his chest by a five-pointed star in gold with a red sequin and a white bead. This type of pentagram is a sign of Vishnu, one of the principal deities in Hinduism and the god of preservation and protection.
A copper bracelet is around each of his wrists and ankles. Around his upper arms is a gold armband with a small wing-like design decorated with red and gold beads.
Classical Indian dance postures: There are 4 types of postures (bhangas), where the body deviates from the central erect position. These four bhangas are: abhanga (off-center, a slightly askew standing position), samabhanga (equal distribution of the body limbs on a central line, whether standing or sitting), atibhanga (the great bend with the torso diagonally inclined and the knees bent) and tribhanga (the triple bend with one hip raised, the torso curved to the opposite side and the head tilted at an angle). The last version is the one shown by this doll.
General description: A woman in traditional costume possibly from Småland due to her style of headdress.
Dimensions 21 x 16 x 9 cm
Date when acquired 1985
Original Date 1985
Source A shop in Stockholm, Sweden
Made of plastic with movable limbs and eyes. Her shoulder-length white blonde hair is brushed back off her forehead and is rolled up at the ends.
Her wide long skirt is made of a lilac silk. The lower half of the skirt is stiffened with a light brownish facing material which is hemmed with white lace. Her striped apron (forklade) in orange, pink and green has two stripes of dark blue braid sewn onto the front dividing it into three panels. Her belt holding up both the skirt and apron is white braid with a zig-zag in brown. Her long-sleeved blouse is made of lace with a collar and breast insert and cuffs made of white ribbon with a design of embroidered blue dots (this is now despoiled by brown blotches). Over the blouse is a green woollen bodice, though its colour has paled with age. At the front is a piece of golden braiding. Her underpants are made of the same material as her blouse but with golden fringing around the leg holes.
On her head is a loosely fitting headdress (huvudduk or klut) made of white tulle that loosely holds in her hair. The top of the cap is decorated with a piece of folded ribbon made of the same material as the cuffs and collar of the blouse.
Her low shoes are painted on.
Småland (Small Lands) is a historical province in southern Sweden. Its name comes from the fact that it was a combination of several independent lands, Kinda (today a part of East Gotland), Tveta, Vista, Vedbo, Tjust, Sevede, Aspeland, Handbörd, Möre, Värend, Finnveden and Njudung. Every small land had its own law in the Viking age and early Middle Ages and could declare themselves neutral in wars.
General description: Unmarried girl from Skedevi, a village in East Gotland, Sweden
Dimensions 16 x 9 x 6 cm
Date when acquired 1987
Original Date 1987
Source A shop in Falun, Dalarna, Sweden. Her label says “Östergötland, Skedevi”. She was made by Billy Jacobson, Dockatelje AB, Sweden.
Her body and (rigid) limbs are made of plastic. Her head is made of a form of plaster and has painted on features. Her long blonde hair has a central parting and is formed into two plaits. Because her plaits can be seen, she is obviously unmarried.
Her skirt and apron are made of homespun woollen materials. The skirt is three-quarter length and is basically red with patterned stripes of yellow, black green and white. The apron (forklade) covers the front of the skirt and is almost the same length. It is made of a white woven material with stripes of red, yellow, light blue, and dark blue. She is also wearing a white long-sleeved linen blouse with a red felt bodice. The lower edge of the bodice is scalloped and hemmed in blue silk. Around her throat she has a cotton scarf (sjan) which covers her shoulders and forms two points at the front and a single point at the back. Smocking stitches in white, pink and blue has been embroidered in a panel along the outer edge of the scarf. The scarf is held in place by a silver brooch in the form of a strawberry with three leaves.
Under her skirt she has white linen panties and knitted red socks that go over her knees. Her shoes are made of black plastic.
Not only her hairstyle but also her silk cap (bindmossa) indicates that she is unmarried. Her cap is made of black silk (slightly greyed nowadays) silk cap with white lace around the front rim.
East Gothland (Östergötland) is one of the traditional provinces of Sweden in the south of Sweden.
Sweden is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. It is the third-largest country in the European Union by area, but with a total population of over 9.8 million it has a low population density of 21 inhabitants per square kilometre, with the highest concentration in the southern half of the country. Approximately 85% of the population lives in urban areas. Southern Sweden is predominantly agricultural, while the north is heavily forested. There is apparently no official data with respect to minorities in the country but Finnish, Meänkieli (a form of Finnish), Romani and Yiddish are recognised as minority languages.
Germanic peoples have inhabited Sweden since prehistoric times, emerging into history as the Geats/Götar and Swedes/Svear and constituting the sea peoples known as the Norsemen. Sweden emerged as an independent and unified country during the Middle Ages. In the 17th century, it expanded its territories to form the Swedish Empire, which became one of the great powers of Europe until the early 18th century. Swedish territories outside the Scandinavian Peninsula were gradually lost during the 18th and 19th centuries, ending with the annexation of present-day Finland by Russia in 1809. The last war in which Sweden was directly involved was in 1814, when Norway was militarily forced into personal union. Since then, Sweden has been at peace, maintaining an official policy of neutrality in foreign affairs. The union with Norway was peacefully dissolved in 1905, leading to Sweden’s current borders.
The 25 provinces (landskap) of Sweden, which early in their histories had poor intercommunication, each have a distinct culture and as such they each have their brightly coloured national costumes. These are called various names nowadays: Folkdräkt (folk dress), Landskapsdräkt (national costume), Sockendräkt (provincial costume), Bygde– or Hembygdsdräkt (district or home district costume), Häradsdräkt (the costume of a Härad, an old jurisdictional county, which is common in the province of Skåne and the south of Sweden.) or Folkdanskostymer (folk-dance costumes). As the Swedish proverb says “”A dear child has many names”.
The provinces long ago lost their importance as administrative and political regions, but are still seen as cultural ones, and the modern population of Sweden identifies with them. Each province has a specific history and some of them even constituted separated parts of Sweden with their own laws. Other regions have been independent or a part of another country, such as (Denmark or Norway), etc. They have different indigenous dialects of North Germanic and some have ethnic minorities.
The present-day Swedish national folk dress, the Sverigedräkten, was designed and promoted by Marta Palme in 1903 to help promote a feeling of national pride. The colours, blue and yellow, are taken from the Swedish flag. The response of the Swedes was luke-warm until Nation Day, June 6, 1983 when the dress was worn by the Swedish Queen Silvia; since then it has been the established national costume and is worn by the Swedish royalty on certain official occasions. A man’s costume was first designed in 1982 by Bo Skräddare’s (Bo ‘the Tailor’) to would agree in both style and period with the woman’s costume.
What is called Folkdräkt in Swedish was the daily dress of the commoners – the peasants – until about 1850: the clothing they used in their work in the fields and meadows, in the kitchen and barns, in winter as well as summer, when they went to church and on festive occasions. After this date, in certain areas such as the province of Dalarna, famous for its preserving old traditions which have disappeared in other areas of Sweden, this form of dress was in use far into the 20th century. Nowadays, the traditional Swedish national costumes are sometimes still worn on special occasions, such as Midsummer.
In Swedish culture, garments and the rules of protocol developed for creating and wearing them reflected a person’s place in society. The garments identified each person by gender, occupation, social class, marital status and geographic location. The fabrics and garments were home/hand made. Each district had its own tailor. Both the producer (the shoemaker and the tailor) as well as the customer could be fined by the parish if the ‘wrong’ model of clothing was produced. Sometime the customer who ordered some new version instead of a traditional one, could be punished by being placed in the stocks outside the church, several Sundays in a row, as a warning to others. The form of dress used in such a district became, in the course of time, quite similar but never become exactly identical. Small differences could be tolerated.
After about 1850, the Swedish peasants began to imitate the fashions used by the ‘upper classes’ and ironically, during this national romantic era, the “upper classes” began to dress up as peasants (just like in Germany), recreating and reconstructing costumes from areas in which they were living, if there was not any locally distinctive costume available. Sometimes several pieces of clothing were found which could be used to reconstruct a costume, at other times perhaps only a piece of headgear was used. A ‘Frame-cap’, a traditional piece of headgear, used in both the peasant ‘Folkdräkt’ as well as the clothing worn by the burghers in the towns, could set the tone for all the other pieces of clothing used in the newly created folk dress. This led to the creation of a district (Bygdedräkt) or home district (Hembygdsdräkt) costume was born. These creations are valuable as a symbol of the strong local feeling of identity within an area, and express something about the cultural history of the time. But it is seldom that they reflect the older style of Swedish dress.
During the national romantic period, around the turn of the 19th to 20th century, Nationaldräkter (national costumes) became popular. This is the name which was given to the Folkdräkt (and even to newly created folk costumes) that the upper classes amused themselves by wearing. The term is incorrect as it would mean that all in Sweden had a uniform dress. National costumes became a collective name for all the picturesque costumes that the upper classes appeared in. Even Landskapsdräkt (provincial costume) is an absurd term which was often used at the time. Both terms are more romantic than correct.
The main garments for both men and women (skirt, blouse, waistcoat, breeches, jackets, coats, etc.) were made of animal skin (elk) or leather or homespun materials (linen, wool and then later cotton). Wooden clogs (trätofflor) are a traditional article of Swedish clothing that remains common even today. Nowadays, however, there is leather on top for added comfort, but they used to be made entirely from wood, because of the availability of the resource, and because people were too poor to afford leather shoes. Waist bags (kjolvaska) made of linen, wool or leather were worn by both men and women outside the skirt or trousers. The design announces the parish or province of the wearer, with some of the designs dating back to the medieval ages.
Although each of the provinces have their own costumes, certain articles of women’s clothing are found throughout Sweden. The apron (forklade) is the focal point of a woman’s costume. The aprons were originally made of linen or wool and later, cotton, crepe or silk. The neck scarf (sjan) is made from a square piece of material that is folded on the diagonal and worn on top of the blouse and vest and either tied or secured with a pin. Again they are made of linen, wool and cotton or silk and are decorated with a variety of designs or embroidery.
Swedish women wore various types of headdresses (huvudbonad) ranging from white linen scarves folded or draped in elaborate forms (huvudduk or klut) to formed hats made of silk or satin (bindmossa). The hats often have a ruffled lace edge/lining to protect the fabric from hair oil.
Encyclopaedia of National Dress: Traditional Clothing around the World, by Jill Condra
General description: Large painted wooden peg dolls in traditional costume
Dimensions Both 23.5 x 7 x 7 cm
Date when acquired 2010
Original Date Unknown
Source Flea market in the Bochum region. Present from Fritz W.
The body and the neck of both dolls seems to have been lathed in one piece. The heads are made of wooden balls with the growth rings starting in the middle of the nose. The wood is stained brown where the skin can be seen, being slightly darker for the man. The stylised facial features are painted on. The short hair is also painted on, black for the man and a beige-colour for the woman. The heads appear to have been milled separately and are stuck on the necks.
The woman has a long dress on, but the man has two round legs, which have been tooled separately and stuck on the body.
The painted-on clothing is in the colours of Italy — green, red and white (il tricolore: the tricolour) — with black, which makes me think they are Italian in origin but I have seen nothing like them before.
Woman: she is wearing a long skirt in red and black stripes. The black stripes have geometric patterns in yellow and green running down them. Over this she has a long-sleeved, high-necked blouse with a black bodice. The bodice has a red zig-zag at the front. There appears to be a golden brooch painted on the front of the blouse. Over her skirt, she has a green apron with a small bag painted on the right held in place by a painted chain (I think). On the crown of her head is a small round black cap. It is decorated with a red diamond shape with a green open diamond painted on top. A red bow is painted at the back of the cap.
Man: He is wearing an interesting white jacket painted in stripes of red and green. A collar and string-like tie are painted on the neck in a bronze colour. Two black panels are painted on the right and left of the chest, each with three yellow buttons. He is wearing black knee trousers with white stockings and black shoes. The stockings have a red lattice painted on the outside of each leg with a bow on the bottom of the trouser leg.
I would be happy to get some information as I have found nothing so far.
General description: The doll is wearing the traditional costume of a married Matyó woman with the special pompom headdress and highly embroidered apron.
Dimensions 34.5 x 24 x 19 cm
Date when acquired October, 2016
Original Date Unknown
Source Village flea market Niedernjesa, Lower Saxony, Germany
The body is made of padded material over wire. The head appears to be ceramic with material stretched over it. Her features are painted on. She is sitting upright on a roughly hewn wooden stool made of some type of light wood.
Her blouse/jacket is made of yellow figured silk. It is high-necked, has short very puffed sleeves and has a short gathered skirt. There is white lace around the cuffs, neck line and over the skirt of the jacket. A piece of wide white braid (3 cm wide) is sewn around the body of the jacket forming a bodice. It is decorated in and red flowers with green leaves. Along the top edge of this braid is a piece of 1-cm-wide, scalloped-edged white braid which is embroidered with dark blue silk: blanket stitch along the edging and with a design of flowers and leaves. A piece of narrow dark brown braid hems the lace around the neck and the skirt of the bodice.
The basic material of her skirt is red cotton with an intricate pattern of geometric designs, hearts and flowers in green, white, light blue, black and yellow. The wide long skirt is gathered tightly around the waist and pleated to roughly half its length. It then falls bell-like to the ankles. Roughly one third down the skirt is a double circle of white braid (0.7 cm wide) embroidered with red and green flowers and leaves. Around the hem are three stripes of braid (each 0.5 cm wide) in red, white and green silk, respectively, topped by a strip of a thick yellow cotton braid. Then just above these four strips of braid is a layer of tatted cream lace (2.5 cm wide). The skirt is lined with white cotton and is held in form by a thin cord sewn in a circle inside the skirt.
Underneath the skirt are two plain white cotton petticoats: one short to above the knee and one long almost as long as the skirt. Her white cotton knickers have lace around the legs.
A typical fringed black Matyó apron covers the front of her skirt. It is tied at the back with white braid embroidered with a green fruit pattern. The front of the apron is decorated with rich embroidery consisting of flowers in reds with dark blue and yellow features, green stems and leaves with white buds and a single pink and yellow bud at he top. Above the fringe is a geometric design consisting of two lines of stem stitch in blue (top) and pink (bottom) with a yellow cross-stitch pattern lying between them.
Her ankle boots are made of black plastic with black felt soles.
Her crowning glory is the typical married woman’s headdress, the csavarintós kendo, made of a scarf in brown cotton with a floral design in light blue, orange, light grey and green. The scarf is tied tightly over her forehead. It has two round pompoms attached at the front, and two elongated pompoms attached behind these: a smaller one on the top of the head and a longer one going around the back and covering the woman’s ears. The basic colour of the woollen pompoms is bright red. The round pompoms have each an oval of yellow wool in the middle, surrounded by green and then white wool. The elongated pompoms each have three ovals of different coloured wool. The neck pompom’s ovals have a green centre and a white edge; the crown pompom’s ovals are in light blue with a yellow edge.
In Northeastern Hungary live the most colourfully dressed Hungarian ethnographic group, the Matyós. There are three main centres of Matyó culture: Mezökövesd the main town and the villages, Szentistván and Tard. The fame of this region is founded on the rich and fabulously patterned embroidery of their embroiderers. Apparently, these patterns were developed by a local artist, Bori Kisjankó. The sarmentose (branched) patterns, feature brilliantly coloured, harmonious mixes of various types of flowers (e.g. roses, tulips), leaves, birds, hearts and stars. It is one of the most beautiful and well-known folk arts in Hungary. It became part of the UNESCO World Heritage in December 2012.
According to legend, there is a special symbolism in the colours used in Matyó decorative work. The only colour found in the oldest embroideries and hand-woven fabrics is red, which was primarily used to express joy, passion and high spirits (decorative folk art only started to become multi-coloured in the middle of the 19th century). In the old days, red was considered to have a protective power: it was associated with life and blood, fire (which gives or takes life) and light. It was believed to protect infants from witches and their evil eye. The red bonnet or headdress worn by brides and young women as part of their folk costume expressed health and youth. Red is also considered to be the colour of summer – representing light and joy. White was generally used to express clarity and innocence. Blue and green were also often associated with ageing, and most young women did not wear these colours. In addition to old age, dark blue represented wisdom, sensibleness, love of peace and reconciliation with the world. Green is the colour of mourning and was used to embroider the sides of aprons to mourn the dead of the world wars. In contrast, black represents the soil from which life springs. Yellow stands for the sun.
According to another legend, the Matyó motif world with its colourful garden originated when a young groom was kidnapped by the Devil. The young man’s fiancée begged the Devil to give her beloved back to her but the Devil said: “You will get your love back only if you bring me the most beautiful flowers of the summer in your apron”. This seemed to be impossible as it was winter. Finally, the girl figured out how to accomplish the Devil’s demand: she embroidered beautiful roses on her apron. She gave the apron to the Devil, who then gave her back her lover.
Nowadays, elderly women in the Matyó region still produce this wonderful embroidery but the area is being affected by the young people leaving for life in the cities and there is a danger of this artistic work being lost.
General description: Traditional hand-made female doll used for protecting the home.
Dimensions 15.5 x 13 x 8 cm
Date when acquired 2016
Original Date 2016
Present from Victoriia W.
The body is made of looped light brown woollen yarn like a traditional yarn doll (see http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Yarn-Doll). The large head and stiff arms are covered by tightly wrapped very thin yellow yarn. The lower part of the body’s loops are cut to make a skirt. The chest area has been tightly wound with narrow red threads. A magnet has been placed in the centre of the back.
Light brown and cream coloured woollen yarn has been plaited to form two long side plaits.
Like all Motankas, the doll does not have a face but a cross made of narrow gold braid over the front of the head. This is one of the three traditional crosses included in a Motanka; the cross-like shape of the doll forms the second one. The third cross, the one on the chest, is missing in this doll.
The doll is dressed with a form of blouse consisting of just a front and arms made of woven material in white, black, red and yellow. There is no back so that the crossing of the red threads over the back of the doll can be seen.
She has a long apron made of similar woven material to the blouse, tied at the front with the red threads used for wrapping the body.
On her head is a scarf, again of the woven material. It is tied straight across the forehead and falls in a point down the back.
The Ukrainian Motanka (a form of rag doll) is a descendent of the Rozhanytsa (the one giving birth) goddess doll made by the ancient Slavic and Trypillya (Kyiv region) cultures. Such dolls have been found in copper epoch villages (4th– 3rd millennium BCE) in these regions. They were in every peasant house and had a protective function, protecting the house, household, children and sleep. The Ukrainians believed that the Motanka would bring them wealth and good fortune. Before the wedding, a mother made a Motanka for her daughter to act as an amulet for the house of the newly married couple. When a child was ill, it was given a Motanka to play with. The Motanka was then destroyed and it was believe it would take the disease away with it. When a child was grown, a Motanka was placed in his/her cradle to protect it from evil until the birth of a new child.
An important feature of these dolls is that they do not have a face as it was considered that a face inspired a soul in the doll, which could be either good or evil. However, people also believed that ancestral spirits were contained in such dolls and that they could pass on secrets from generation to generation.
Motankas were made of various plant materials (e.g. hay, straw, wood, herbs, dry leaves, grains or seeds). They were decorated with national ornaments and embroidery. The secrets of making the dolls were passed on from mother to daughter.
In contrast to other rag or yarn dolls, Motankas have important symbols. No needles are used in making them as this would sew up good and evil thoughts in the dolls. Spiral rolling in the process of making the Motanka is associated with eternity and the cycle of birth — growth — death — rebirth. In addition, each doll has three crosses. The image of the doll itself is a cross: a symbol of life and fertility and the succession and protection of the generations. The face has the second cross (usually in two colours) lying in a circle — an ancient solar sign. This is supposed to keep positive energy in the doll. The third cross is on the chest and represents life and the unity of man and woman. All vertical lines are considered to be masculine and all horizontal lines are feminine.
When I was given this doll, it brought back my early childhood when my mother taught me how to make yarn dolls. I had not realised that these easily made dolls were a global phenomenon. I remember having a family made of father, mother, son and daughter. The male dolls with legs and the females with skirts. Each was of a different coloured wool (leftovers from my mother’s knitting) and I played with them for many, many hours.