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The Netherlands, or the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is a small, densely populated country located in Western Europe. It has three island territories in the Caribbean (Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius), which have their own type of traditional costumes.

In the Netherlands, themselves, regional – or traditional – costumes have long played an important role in everyday Dutch life as they reveal the wearer´s origins and the group he/she belongs to. However, around 1800, these costumes started becoming gradually more and more specific according to the region or locality. Although the term “national costume” implies an unchanging costume, such costumes in the Netherlands have changed with time, so that a variety of local traditional costumes with distinctive headwear for women came into being in the Netherlands during the nineteenth century. Other than region, professions (farmers versus fishermen) and religious backgrounds (Catholic versus Protestant) also determined elements of the costume. In addition, children had their own costumes and (un)married people, widows and widowers could be distinguished by their clothing, too.

Voledamm
Voledamm

Like so many people, I was brought up to believe there was only one type of costume for the Netherlands: that worn by the lady advertising Dutch products such as Edam cheese. This is because not only the Dutch advertising industry but also the tourist industry use costumes from a few fishing villages around the former Zuiderzee (Southern Sea) region, such as Volendam. The Zuiderzee no longer exists as it was closed off from the North Sea in the 20th century and the salt water inlet changed into a fresh water lake called the IJsselmeer (IJssel Lake).

Even nowadays, in a number of villages, such as Scheveningen, Spakenburg and Staphorst, women can still be seen wearing their traditional clothing. However, most of these women are elderly and their number is declining year by year. As a result, regional costumes are disappearing from the Dutch street scene. They are no more the “living clothing” they were in the past. Instead, such costumes are used by folklore groups or for the entertainment of tourists. Some towns have special annual events where these costumes are still worn to help maintain the tradition (e.g. Marken, Spakenburg, Urk and Volendam).

Scheveningen
Scheveningen
Spakenburg
Spakenburg
Staphorst
Staphorst

Oorijzer (ear irons)

A special metal headdress for women, the oorijzer (ear iron) covered by a lace cap is a very common part of traditional dress in many parts of the Netherlands. In the sixteenth century, the oorijzer was an iron wire that secured a cap to the head, over which another lace cap was attached. Such oorijzers then developed into ornate jewellery made of more costly metal such as silver or gold. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, its shape changed from a frame to a helmet. There are regional differences in its present-day form but it usually consists of a band of metal with knobs on the ends. The lace bonnets attached to the metal were also continually modified to keep up with fashion and to show the latest lace designs.

Dutch oorijzer 1830—1870
Dutch oorijzer 1830—1870

Kissers (head ornaments)

Square kissers typical of Zeeland
Square kissers typical of Zeeland

Kissers are metal ornaments worn at the side of the head in the Zeeland region. These pieces of jewellery are made of gold and can have a square or spring-like form (see the Staphorst ladies above). Traditionally, ornaments were attached to the kissers to indicate the wealth of the family. There are various stories about these ornaments attracting the boys to the girls — hence the name kissers — or even preventing kissing, but these are just myths.

Young Dutch girl with spiral kissers with gold and pearl ornaments and an edelkraal around her neck
Young Dutch girl with spiral kissers with gold and pearl ornaments and an edelkraal around her neck

Edelkraal (necklace/choker)

This is a special type of choker consisting of several strands of coral beads with an ornamental buckle at the front. These became popular in the 19th century as people commonly believed that coral had healing powers.

 

 

References

Condra Jill (2013) Encyclopedia of National dress. Traditional clothing around the world.

http://www.friesmuseum.nl/collection/icons/traditional-frisian-costume-gold-oorijzer?language=en

http://www.geheugenvannederland.nl/?/en/collecties/streekdrachten_in_nederland

http://www.holland.com/uk/press/story-ideas/traditional-holland/dutch-traditions.htm

http://www.pbase.com/gervan/klederdrachten

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zuiderzee

 

 

Pictures

Dutch oorijzer 1830—1870: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/
File:WLANL_-_Lumperjack_-_Oorijzers,_zilver,_goud_en_verguld,_periode_1830-1870.jpg

Kissers: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/31243791136708681/

Scheveningen: https://c2.staticflickr.com/4/3758/9998851455_3303d364db_b.jpg

Spankenburg: https://www.flickr.com/photos/26849514@N06/9361805726

Staphorst: http://www.marcellathecheesemonger.com

Vollendamm: http://folkcostume.blogspot.de/2011/11/costume-of-volendam-north-holland.html

 

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