Ancient Dresses – pictures Heinola’s Kalavalan Women Ry (also, more pictures there)

Finnish Iron Age dresses. Iron Age or so called ancient dresses are reconstructions of clothes used by women – no dress for men has yet been succesfully reconstructed – in the first centuries of the second millennium. The costumes are based on the remains of fabric and metal found in tombs around Finland and while many are results of tedious research, they are still being refined.

Obviously time destroys the cloth quite quickly, but substantial findings of fabric have still been made, as the numerous metal pieces have corroded and the chemical environment has made the fabric last longer. Obviously, this means that the dresses that get reconstructed are those of the wealthy, who could afford all the complicated and fancy metalwork that went into the aprons and brooches. Really, these dresses are excellent examples of the craftsmanship of pre-Christian Finland.

The dresses became popular again in the early 1900s after the fictional Aino-dress was designed based on some findings and used in a play. After that many dresses have been made, such as the ones of Perniö, Eura and Kaarina, seen above. Out of these Kaarina’s is the most recent to be reconstructed and is one of the best researched ones, as is Eura’s.

Eura’s dress also used by the president, Tarja Halonen (pictured), in the Independence Day Ball, which made the dresses popular again, after a decline in the recent years. The decline is hardly surprising, however, considering that these dresses are not cheap. Even the cheapest ones cost well over a €1000.