Hungary: Matyó bridal couple

Front view
Front view

General description: The woman is wearing the traditional costume of a Matyó Mary girl, while the man is wearing the typical Sunday attire of a Matyó man.

Dimensions Man: 19 x 12 x 6 cm; woman: 19 x 12 x 8 cm

Date when acquired 2015

Original Date 1978

Source Bought over EBay by Gisela H. as a present. The original owners said they had bought the couple in 1978.

The dolls are hand embroidered using original Hungarian folk art motives and were made by the Hungarian Cooperative Foreign Trading Company. The product has a certification of acceptance by the Hungarian Council of Folk Arts and Crafts


Back view
Back view


The heads of both dolls are made of material drawn over a plastic base. The features are painted on. Their bodies are made of padded material. The woman’s hair is hidden under her headdress at the front but it gathered in a short plait at the back tied with white braid embroidered with red and blue flowers in the same style as her skirt.


Side view
Bride: Side view


The woman is wearing an ensemble made of a white brocade jacket with short puffed sleeves with white lace around the cuffs. She has a bodice made of two types of braid. The upper white one with scalloped edges and embroidered in light blue and a lower braid embroidered with red and dark blue flowers and green leaves. The bodice has a quilted skirt reaching from the waist to the hips, which is covered with white lace. She has a long white brocade skirt that is highly pleated. Just above the hem is an inset made of medium blue silk braid. Another piece of braid is sewn onto the skirt at the level just below her buttocks. This is again embroidered with red and dark blue flowers and leaves though the design is slightly different form that of the bodice. Under her skirt is a midi-length plain white cotton petticoat and a pair of short drawers. Over the front of the skirt is a highly pleated apron made of white brocade with light blue ribbon sewn just above the hems which have lace around the edges. Her black shoes have a point of leather at the front going up the front of the leg.

Top of floral headdress
Top of floral headdress

On her head is a floral headdress (blue, pink and white flowers) with a veil made of white net hanging down to the level of her hips. Silver tinsel-like ribbons are attached to the headdress.

Bridegroom: side view
Bridegroom: side view

The man is wearing a very long- and wide-sleeved shirt. The front of the shirt and around the arms of the sleeves is typical Hungarian floral embroidery in red, blue, green, pink and orange. Around the neck is a piece of white braid embroidered with red.  Over the shirt, he is wearing a black felt waistcoat that is open at the front and is embroidered with yellow wool to form three oblongs on each side of the chest. On the lower part of his body are highly pleated gatya with white fringing along the bottom of the legs. Over these he is wearing the typical Matyó black fringed apron, embroidered with a floral and cross stitch design in red, yellow, brown, pink and white. He is wearing a pair of black boots with the typical curved top.

Top of man's hat
Top of man’s hat

He has the typical Matyó high-crowned Bowler hat on his head with a piece of black braid around the crown embroidered with a floral design in white, pink and green.





Background information

Matyó Land is situated at the feet of the Bükk Mountains in Upper Hungary. Mezőkövesd is its capital. Matyó embroidery and folk costume are certified “Hungaricums”, i.e. they are typical Hungarian treasures of the Carpathian basin. Matyó folk art became part of the UNESCO World Heritage in December 2012.

World_Heritage_Logo_global.svgUntil the 1860s, the clothing of the Matyó was simple and reserved; their embroidery used only the colours red and blue.

From the 1870s on, the clothing rioted with colours and Mezőkövesd became the leading inspiration of peasant style for Hungarians everywhere, including even items which worn by men. The colours and patterns were fully developed in the early 20th century, especially by one artist, Bori Kis Janko.

1) Matyó girls at a wedding
1) Matyó girls at a wedding

The Matyó are Roman Catholics and the woman’s costume is typical of girls who belong to the Society of Mary. Matyó women otherwise wear a different style of costume, whose silhouette is tall and slender rather than the full-skirted costume of other Hungarian regions. This effect is achieved by the headdress ending in a peak and by a skirt which is narrow at the waist and widening out only at the ankle. The bodice and shoulder shawl are worn over a shirt with wide silk sleeves. Various types of blouses then came into use and turned the shirt into underwear. The material of the skirts was cashmere, silk or satin, or later artificial silk. Under the top skirt is a shorter petticoat often made out of one hundred metres of material. The lower part of the long, narrow apron is richly embroidered, which further emphasizes the vertical line of the costume.

2) Matyó womens’ costumes
2) Matyó womens’ costumes

The Matyó women’s costumes were so expensive that girls of poor social standing had to work very hard for many years as day labourers and as seasonal workers to earn the price. They did this because the poor people did not want to be outdone by the rich, shown by the proverb: “Let it grumble, so long as it’ll sparkle,” meaning, they often had to starve in order to buy the extravagant outfit.

The basic outfit for the Matyó men consists of the shirt, waistcoat, necktie, hat, apron and culotte-style trousers. This style of trousers, known as gatya, are worn over most of Hungary, especially in the summer. They are made of plain white linen or cotton and are very full. In fact, in the Matyó region they are actually fuller than the skirts of the women. They are usually worn slightly longer than boot-top length, and are generally fringed at the bottom of the trouser legs. Such gatya are often mistaken for skirts.

There is extensive embroidery on the collar, shoulders, front, and on the very long and full sleeves of the festive shirts. The shirt’s sleeves are nearly a yard wide and are edged with lace. A sleeves of a young man’s shirt worn on his wedding day were sued to make his shroud when he was buried.

The man’s apron consists of one panel, is black, and nowadays usually has a fringe on the bottom, a row of patterned ribbon and embroidery in the same style as on the man’s festive shirt.

The waistcoat is made of black wool, has lapels, and is ornamented with a varying amount of buttons and black soutache braid.  On formal occasions, a narrow silk embroidered tie was tied around the neck, and a round topped felt hat with ribbons and feathers completed the ensemble.

Source(s) of information


1) Matyo girls at a wedding –

2) Matyo womens’ costumes –

(1.9.3 & 1.9.4)


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