Czech Republic: General information

According to the results of a 2011 census, there are 7 ethnicities living in the Czech Republic. The majority of the inhabitants are Czechs (63.7%), followed by Moravians (4.9%), Slovaks (1.4%), Poles (0.4%), Germans (0.2%) and Silesians (0.1%). However, as ‘nationality’ was an optional item in the census, a substantial number of people left this field blank (26.0%).According to some estimates, there are about 250,000 Romani people in the Czech Republic.

1) Ornate Czech clothing made from hemp (Vlčnov, Slovacko)

History

Archaeologists have found evidence of prehistoric human settlements in the area, dating back to the Palaeolithic era (before 10,000 BCE). In the classical era, from the 3rd century BCE Celtic migrations, the Boii and later in the 1st century CE, Germanic tribes of Marcomanni and Quadi settled there. Their king Maroboduus is the first documented ruler of Bohemia. During the Migration Period around the 5th century CE, many Germanic tribes moved westwards and southwards out of Central Europe. In addition, Slavic people from the Black Sea–Carpathian region settled in the area (a movement that was also stimulated by the onslaught of peoples from Siberia and Eastern Europe: Avars, Bulgars, Huns and Magyars). In the 6th century, the Slavs moved westwards into Bohemia, Moravia and some of present-day Austria and Germany.

During the 7th century, first known Slav state was set up in Central Europe, Samo’s Empire. The principality Great Moravia, controlled by the Moymir dynasty, arose in the 8th century and reached its zenith in the 9th when it held off the influence of the Franks. Great Moravia was then Christianized, with a crucial role played by the Byzantine mission of Cyril and Methodius. They created the artificial language Old Church Slavonic, the first literary and liturgical language of the Slavs, and the Glagolitic alphabet.

The Czech state was first formed in the late 9th century as the Duchy of Bohemia under the Great Moravian Empire. After the fall of the Empire in 907, the centre of power was transferred from Moravia to Bohemia under the Přemyslid dynasty. In 1002, the duchy was formally recognized as part of the Holy Roman Empire, becoming the Kingdom of Bohemia in 1198 and reaching its greatest territorial extent in the 14th century. Besides Bohemia itself, the king of Bohemia ruled the lands of the Bohemian Crown, he had a vote in the election of the Holy Roman Emperor. Prague was the imperial seat in the period between the 14th and 17th century. In the Hussite wars of the 15th century driven by the Protestant Bohemian Reformation, the kingdom faced economic embargoes and defeated five consecutive crusades proclaimed by the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church.

2) Taborsko man and woman

Following the Battle of Mohács in 1526, the whole Crown of Bohemia was gradually integrated into the Habsburg Monarchy alongside the Archduchy of Austria and the Kingdom of Hungary. The Protestant Bohemian Revolt (1618–20) against the Catholic Habsburgs led to the Thirty Years’ War. After the Battle of the White Mountain, the Habsburgs consolidated their rule, eradicated Protestantism and re-imposed Roman Catholicism, and also adopted a policy of gradual Germanization. With the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, the Bohemian Kingdom became part of the Austrian Empire and the Czech language experienced a revival as a consequence of widespread romantic nationalism. In the 19th century, the Czech lands became the industrial powerhouse of the monarchy and were subsequently the core of the Republic of Czechoslovakia, which was formed in 1918 following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I.

The Czech part of Czechoslovakia was occupied by Germany in World War II, and was liberated in 1945 by the armies of the Soviet Union and the United States. The Czech country lost the majority of its German-speaking inhabitants after they were expelled following the war. The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia won the 1946 elections. Following the 1948 coup d’état, Czechoslovakia became a one-party communist state under Soviet influence. In 1968, increasing dissatisfaction with the regime culminated in a reform movement known as the Prague Spring, which ended in a Soviet-led invasion.

The first separate Czech republic was created on January 1, 1969, under the name Czech Socialistic Republic within federalization of Czechoslovakia, however the federalization was implemented only incompletely. Czechoslovakia remained occupied until the 1989 Velvet Revolution, when the communist regime collapsed and a democracy and federalization was deepened. On 6 March 1990, the Czech Socialistic Republic was renamed the Czech Republic. On 1 January 1993, Czechoslovakia peacefully dissolved, with its constituent states becoming the independent states of the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.

3) Hanak

Traditional clothing

The national clothing of the Czech Republic is very bright. It consists of a mix of different eras and styles. Shawls and kerchiefs on the head came from Gothic period when people began to wear various kinds of cloths that covered the hair. Pleats and lace collars came from Renaissance era. Bell-shaped skirts and large puff sleeves came from Baroque era. The beautiful Slavic embroidery found on the Czech costumes is typical for all Slavic countries. The clothes were made from wool and homespun linen (good for winter), while during the summer, Czechs wore lightweight fabrics such as silk. However, serfs were prohibited from using valuable materials (such as silk and velvet) and farmers wore simple clothing.

The traditions in clothing in the Czech Republic are different for its various regions, although the styles can be divided into two groups: the Western style in Bohemia and mid-Moravia, and the Eastern style in Moravia and Silesia. In general, women’s traditional clothing consisted of two aprons, tied in the front and back, and a white blouse. For men, a typical outfit included long breeches and a loose jacket.

Nowadays, people in the Czech Republic do not use traditional costumes in everyday life, but they wear such clothes at ethnic festivals, carnivals and other national events. In the eastern part of the country this tradition is much stronger than in the west.

4) Chodsko (South-West Bohemia)

Bohemia

Residents of Plzeň wore traditional clothing until the late 19th century. Women in the city wore several layers of thin skirts, a distinguishing feature. The primary fabric was cotton, decorated with ribbons and a silk scarf tied across the chest.

Dress in the Prácheňsko region differed by generation. The typical dress for a teenaged boy would include a short jacket, narrow trousers and high boots. Older men wore long coats instead of jackets. Women’s clothing had a number of differences between the young and old, too. Married woman wore long skirts (indicating their status), and a white scarf was tied around the head. The caftan consisted of a skirt and bodice.

5) Nové Paky, Northeast Bohemia

Bohemian-Moravian Highlands

Residents of the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands dressed more simply. Young boys wore short undershirts, and the most elaborate element of traditional male clothing was a fur coat.

6) Moravian and Bohemian costumes

Moravia

In Haná, folk dress was traditional and indicated occupation; dark, simple colours were worn by working people. Women wore a long dress or a high-belted skirt (oplicko) with a short bolero jacket with a stand-up collar. Hanakian women wore a coloured scarf (uvodnice) on special occasions. Like many areas of the Czech Republic, white (sometimes black or yellow) wool coats were popular. Men wore narrow breeches (cervenice), made of yellow leather in the rural districts near Brno. In cool weather a long, white coat was worn, followed by a dark cloth coat in cold weather. For holidays and festivals, coats with wide, gathered collars were worn. Fine clothing featured yellow, white or black embroidery.

7) Moravia

Moravian Slovakia

Compared to other Czech traditional costumes, clothing in the Moravian Slovak highlands was simple.

8) Man and woman from Moravské Knínice, a village and municipality (obec) in Brno-Country

References

http://nationalclothing.org/24-nationalclothing/europe/czech-republic/22-traditional-costume-of-the-czech-republic-every-region-has-its-folk-attire.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Czech_Republic#Demographics

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

Pictures

1) Ornate Czech clothing made from hemp (Vlčnov, Slovacko) – https://sensiseeds.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/5.-Cannabis-in-Czech-Republic-1.jpg

2) Taborsko man and woman – http://nationalclothing.org/images/2015/01/Taborsko-folk-costume.jpg

3) Hanak – http://folkcostume.blogspot.de/2014/08/overview-of-folk-costumes-of-europe.html

4) Chodsko (South-West Bohemia) – https://www.pinterest.de/alenamelicharov/our-country/?lp=true (white coat)

5) Nové Paky, Northeast Bohemia – http://folkcostume.blogspot.de/2014/08/overview-of-folk-costumes-of-europe.html

6) Moravian and Bohemian costumes – http://thelovelyplanet.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/by-donald-judge-5.jpg (womwn)

7) Moravia – http://www.czechheritage.net/graphics/ht22.gif

8) Man and woman from Moravské Knínice, a village and municipality (obec) in Brno-Country – https://www.pinterest.de/Suzishowers/czech-costumes-more/?lp=true

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