General description: Young unmarried Polish woman with waistcoat (see below) and headdress indicating that she may come from Krakow.
Dimensions 39 x 22 x 17 cm
Date when acquired 2000s
Original Date Unknown
Source Flea market in the Bochum area. Present from Fritz W.
Plastic doll with movable eyes, arms and legs. Her long white blonde hair is parted in the middle and tied in two plaits at the back going down to her waist.
Her costume is made up of a skirt, blouse, waistcoat, boots and headdress. The wide knee-length skirt is made of red brocade decorated with blue and white flowers. Her white cotton petticoat has lace around the edging, which peeps out from under the skirt. She also has white cotton underpants on. Her white cotton blouse has puffed sleeves down to the elbows with a wide cuff of dark cream lace. The same lace has been used to make a round collar that extends to the top of her arms. The black, armless waistcoat is decorated with embroidery and sequins and gold braid. The skirt of the waistcoat is cut into six panels (lappets). Around the edges of the neck, armholes, front and lappets is a line of red stem stitch, with a row of silver cross stitch. Gold braid runs down the front of the waistcoat, while large flowers done in red daisy stitch and white straight stitch decorate the front and back. Dark green leaves have been embroidered too. Each of the sequins is held in place with a red bead. The waistcoat is laced up the front with a peach-coloured ribbon.
Her high laced boots are made of dark tan leather.
Her headdress is formed by a triangle with a point over the middle of her forehead. The triangle is tied in place with a light brownish silk band with 5 ribbons down the back in light brown (2), white (2) and yellow (1) silk. The red material of the triangle is covered in small rosettes made of the same ribboning material, with a single rosette made of green in the centre and a two-pronged green rosette sticking out at the top with silver thread between the prongs.
Around her neck is a choker made of a double row of red beads.
The waistcoat (Gorset), is the most variable part of the Krakow costume. It is of the standard Malopolska (Southern/Lesser Poland) cut, with narrow shoulder straps, lacing or hooking closing the front, and usually finished off with lappets at the waist.
General description: Handmade doll dressed in the rich clothing of 16th century Polish/Hungarian/Lithuanian aristocracy.
Dimensions 27 x 17 x 12 cm
Date when acquired Ca. 2004
Original Date Unknown
Source Flea market in Göttingen
Papier maché hands and head. Arms, legs and body appear to be padding over wire. His features and beard are painted on. His hair is hidden under his hat.
He is standing on a round wooden base, to which he is fixed by wire staples.
His high-crowned brimless black felt hat is typical of the Hungarian-style papakha or astrakhan hat. It has narrow feathers attached to the left side and a badge made of a metal oblong surrounded gathered red material (like the buttoning on his coat).
His full-length red coat (żupan) is made of a thick red woollen material. It has a large brown fur collar lying on his shoulders, This coat has long sleeves down to the hem of the coat but his arms are inserted through armholes at the level of the shoulder so that the rich red and black brocade sleeves of his knee-length jacket are freely visible. The żupan is lined with black cotton, which is used to hem the front panels of the coat from the lower hem to the waist. There are five buttons on the coat, three still have the gathered red material around three sides (the other two have lost this decoration); however the coat is not meant to be closed at the front. The żupan is the typical male attire from the beginning of the 16th to the first half of the 18th century and was worn by almost all males of the noble social class in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. This type of coat still survives as a part of the Polish and Ukrainian national costume.
His high necked red & black brocade jacket has a high neck with a stand-up collar. The jacket is closed to the waist and then is open at the front of its skirts. The long sleeves are broad around the upper arms running down to narrow cuffs. The cuffs and collar of a white cotton shirt can be seen poking out from under the jacket.
His tight trousers are more like leggings and his painted white boots are modelled from papier maché.
Stephan Batory’s full title on his coronation (1576) was King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, Duke of Ruthenia, Prussia, Masovia, Samogitia, Kiev Land, Volhynia, Podlachia and Livonia, as well as Prince of Transylvania.
He was born September 27, 1533, in Somlyo, Transylvania, to the local branch of the ancient noble Bathory family, now extinct, but originally almost contemporary with the Hungarian monarchy. He became King of Poland through his marriage with Anna Jagiellonka, the sole heir to the Crown of Poland. He also at the same time became ruler of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the largest and one of the most populous states in Europe in the 16th century. He was buried in Krakow’s Wawel Cathedral, Saint Mary’s Crypt in 1588.
General description: Hand-made wooden doll with a high-crowned brimless (torque-like) hat reminiscent of the hats (czolka) worn by women from Kurpie, though their hats have embroidery on them and this is unadorned.
Dimensions 8 x 3 x 4 cm
Date when acquired 1985
Original Date 1985
Source Warsaw, Poland.
Present from Danuta (a friend from my German course)
The body is made of a wooden cone with a wooden ball for the head. Her features are painted on.
The doll’s costume consists of a long skirt made of red silky braid and a band of dark green velvet around the hem. The red colour indicates that she is a Northern Kurpie. The white lace apron (kitlów) is almost as long as her skirt. Her blouse is made of white cotton, stiffened to form arms. The ends of each sleeve are gathered by a red thread. The front of the blouse has an inset of white lace. The doll has a piece of black velvet at the front to form a bodice. Around her neck is a choker made of red thread.
On the dolls head is a high-crowned brimless green hat. Lace edging peeps out of the rim of the hat at the front.
The Kurpie region one of a number of ethnic regions in Poland and is located on a lowland plain called the Mazovian Region (Mazowsze), which was once covered over by two forests known as the Puszcza Zielona (the Green Wilderness) and the Puszcza Biała (the White Wilderness). This people of this region have their unique traditional customs, such as its own types of traditional costume, traditional dance, and distinctive type of architecture and livelihoods. The typical shoes made of bast fibres gave these people their name Kurpie.
Although their costumes were similar, the Kurpies in the north had a different type of costume than the Kurpies in the southern part of the region. For example, in the north, women wore red skirts with a green vest over a white linen blouse with some trim and always a necklace made of amber. The vest came down to the waist and had two lappets on the sides that came down lower, usually to the tops of the leg. The skirt often has elaborate folds at the back, but is flat along the front. If stripes were added to the skirt it was always in contrasting colours, so green stripes on a red skirt and red on a green. In the colder months a highly embroidered jacket would be worn, but the sleeves always stopped about half way down so that the embroidery on the shirt sleeves could still be seen.
For holidays, unmarried young women wore special hats which were black and rectangular with rounded corners called czolka (pronounced cholka). It was trimmed with black velvet and decorated with sequins, beads, and other haberdashery. On the side was placed a garland of flowers and down the back hung colourful ribbons. Usually when wearing this hat women would braid their hair in pigtails.
Kurpie men in the north wore long brown coats tied around the waist with a red sash. They wore white linen shirts and white trousers which were fastened at the bottom with straps from the Kurpie shoes which they wore. Men from the north can be distinguished from men in the south since men in the north wear dark brown top hats and men from the south wear small black caps.
There is some variation in the costume. For example, a man’s trousers could be grey or white, and women might wear a red or a white blouse.
General description: A young married woman from Krakow
Woman 24 x 14 x 9 cm
Unpainted oblong wooden base 9 x 6 x 1.6 cm
Date when acquired 2016
Original Date 02/1989
Source The base has the following words under it: Tradycja Spoldzielnia Pracy WYTWÓRCÓW; REKODTIELA, LUDOWEGA, I ATYSTYCZNEGO, Czechowice – Dz. O/Opole, ul. Reymonta 17. Autor C-2604, Symbol S020-117/87 Nazwa Krakowianka, gatunke I, Data prod. 02/1989 Cena umowna, 4800, wzor zatw. przez TAKK-TEKK.
It also has the Cepelia logo (see the couple from Krakow for more information)
Present from Fritz W.; found at a flea market in the Göttingen area.
Handmade doll with clay or papier maché (?) head and painted features. Her arms are made of padded wire, while the legs and most probably the body are made of clay or papier maché. Her hands seem to be carved from wood and painted white. The doll is standing on an oblong block of wood.
The woman’s fine straight blonde hair has a central parting, but is hidden under her scarf. When the back of the scarf is lifted a little pony tail can be seen.
The young woman is wearing a wide skirt down to mid-calf. It was originally red but has faded to a pink colour apart from a few places at the front, the back and on the inside of the skirt. It has flowers painted on it in blue, white, yellow and black, with green leaves. The lower edge of the skirt has a row of white sequins sewn on it. Her apron is made of white tulle, with three white zigzags sewn 2 cm above its lower hem. The three sides of the apron have a scalloped white lace edging sewn onto it. The waist of the apron is held in place by a belt made of two layers of stiffened cotton, white on top and pink underneath. The lower part of the belt is incised to give a crenelated edge. Under her skirt is a white cotton petticoat with white lace on the hem. Her white cotton underpants are knee-length and trimmed with lace and white embroidery. She has a long plain white cotton blouse on with lacy ruffs at the cuffs and around her neck.
Her beige bodice is decorated with a pattern of red and white beads with pink zigzags around the neck line, armholes, down the front and around the back in a U-form. A gold braid is sewn in place around the neck and armholes and a U-shape on the back with a white zigzag. Three pink tassels decorate each side of the front of the bodice. Around her neck is a coral necklace with two loops. On her head, she is wearing a scarf covering her hair in a light pink material similar to that of the skirt. A row of white sequins are sewn around the front of the scarf.
On her feet are (painted on) black boots reaching midway up her calves. White stocking are painted on above them
See Poland: young couple form Krakow. Her scarf is an indication that she is a married woman.
General description: Man in the traditional costume of the Szczyrzyc Lachy from Lesser Poland
Dimensions 28.5 x 11.5 x 8 cm, circular wooden base 8 x 8 x 0.8 cm
Date when acquired ca. 2004
Original Date Unknown
Source Flea market in Göttingen
Papier maché hands and head. Arms, legs and body appear to be padding over wire. His features are painted on. His straight blonde hair is cut to the level of his lower jaw.
He is standing on a round wooden base, to which he is fixed by wire staples.
The doll’s stunning attire is made up of two dark blue double waistcoats, a short waist-length one and a longer one reaching down to mid-thigh over that. The waistcoats are made of dark blue cotton and are lined with red cotton, which is used to make a border around the edges of the top waistcoat and a collar on the short one (often the waistcoats were made of woollen material). Both waistcoats are richly adored with sequins, beads, buttons and embroidered zig-zags in yellow, green and red. On the back of the top waistcoat is a small light brown appliqué heart below the neck. Its skirt is divided into four panels at the back, which have long-stalked flowers embroidered above the slits (though the one on the left is missing its red bead bud). Under his waistcoats, the doll has a long-sleeved white linen shirt with a pointed collar. The neck is tied together with a red string tied in a bow. His trousers are also made of white linen and have a codpiece embroidered with red zig-zagging. His trousers are tucked into his black high-heeled boots (made of papier maché). On his head is a round flat black felt hat, which is decorated with six artificial flowers in various colours. On the right, the hat has three upright brown feathers and five ribbons (light blue, yellow, green, red and orange) hanging down to his chest. .
Lachy: The Lachy or Lendians were a West Slavic tribe who lived in the area of East Lesser Poland and Cherven Towns (Ukraine) between the 7th and 11th centuries. Lachy is the plural of Lach, a term for ethnic Poles
There are three kinds of Lachy, the Sądeckie, Limanowa and Szczyrzyc. These groups of people are situated between Krakow, the gorals and Nowy Sącz area in Lesser Poland. Although they have borrowed some costume elements from their neighbours, they have retained their own identity.
Szczyrzyc Lachy: Szczyrzyc is a village in Lesser Poland, 36 km from Krakow. The village was founded in the 14th century.
Women’s costume: The women had linen skirts with white embroidered aprons, short green damask bodices, and white tulle or cotton kerchiefs with white work embroidery. Young maidens wore black bodices with bead work and floral printed skirts, no aprons or headdress.
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.