Complete Shaman costumes of this age are very seldom found. The assumption that the world is separated into various levels populated by spirits and mixed beings form the basis for the work of shamans as mediators between the various levels. Their most important task was the spiritual journey into the lower and upper worlds. While exercising their functions, shamans usually wore a special kind of dress. In the case shown here, it consists of boots, leggings, a coat, and a metal headdress covered with a feathered fringe cape. Every piece of clothing is trimmed with figures made of sheet iron, each of those symbolizing spirits. Belts with metal bells also belonged to the equipment, in order to create loud rhythmic sounds with every movement, particularly during dances. The most substantial tool of a shaman, at the same time his spiritual “mount” during otherworldly journeys in trance, is the drum beaten with a drumstick. The origin and the date when the collector Klemm bought the costume are not known. Therefore it is determined by early 19th century as the latest possible date of manufacture. Experts specified the costume as Evenk from Stony Tunguska River. It is the highlight of the Siberian Collection and therefore shown in every permanent exhibition of the museum.
The denomination of “regional” clothing is based in the notion of diversity according to social and geographic conditions, and other elements such as materials and practices, in way it contributes the comprehension of these specific types of clothing.
They are officiating clothes, linked to specific days or events and intractably connected to the idea of celebration. They bear a symbolism that walks hand-in-hand with religious practices, reflecting the culture of said region in a combination of elements that become easily distinguished between regions.
These costumes present themselves as a mythos, or a profound mythology, with its relation to a praxis connected to Catholicism. But they bear roots from the immense diversity of Portuguese history, from Muslim art forms that survived, and strived, through centuries, to ancient beliefs or superstitions, rooted in ancient pre-roman cultures, still alive today in many villages. They can be divided (1) in two great zones based on its polychromatic characteristics: as we get closer to the sea, women «enhance its polychromatic characteristics and complicate their clothing», as opposed to serranas, women from the ridges of the interior, that bear a more monochromatic way of dressing. This is evidenced through the wearing of the scarf, connected to the role of women in society: in serrana societies, of the interior, or the hillside of the country, women cover their forehead, whereas the coastline and south regions, where the sea is in direct relation toin the way of living, the forehead is released, evidencing more liberties of the role of women in its society.
Traditional costumes from Serra da Estrela, a type of serrana.
Costumes for romaria, male and female, from Póvoa de Vazim, a fishing town.
Five great elements can be pointed in Portuguese costuming overall (2):
1. The representation of affection, often a symbol crafted in some decorative element of the costume or adornment to be worn with the costume itself3. This affection doesn’t limit to representations of love, but also of grief in a much demarcated tradition of mourning, rooted in catholic liturgy (4).
A lovers’ handkerchief, or lenço dos namorados.
2) The proliferation of the usage of gold. Two elements play a part here, the first considering the financial security gold represented for lower-class people, since it could be pawned in a more desperate situation. It also secured the gold-bearer, usually the women being the most ostentatious ones, as the matron of the household, in a competitive spirit between neighbors. The usage of gold is so popular and traditional it maintains today, despite social class. The second element is of an intricate catholic inheritance, which we can trace back to the baroque era: the need to “distort” the body, which is to eliminate the sensual curves of the female body. As in the Iberian fashion of the 17th century women (5) found heavy gold and jewel decoration to cover parts of the body usually defined as sensual, such as the chest, this tradition passed on to popular costuming. A fine example of this gold usage is the minhota costume, where a certain “iconography” reads in a certain symbolism that traces back to the rocaille, particularly to queen D. Maria I, whose promise of raising a basilica if she bore a baron to the kingdom, resulted in Basílica da Estrela, a church to Sagrado Coração de Jesus, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a symbol today popularized in minhota golden earrings with an asymmetrical heart. Many of these golden adornments can be traced back to interpretations or direct importations of jewelry wore by queens for different periods.
Example of heart-shaped arrecadas. Arrecadas are known of a few dominant shapes, mainly in gold (silver became popular only later, in a touristic fashion), of which the most beautiful in craft and better known are the Brincos à Rainha, the queen-style earrings.
3) Preference for linen and wool. Both materials are a strong symbol of a working class people, who both seek the best materials to guard them from the cold and find more accessible. Although silk was popular to a degree, it prevailed in nobility and aristocracy.
Two examples of a minhota costume: on the left, a bride and groom; on the right, a lavadeira (washerwoman). Notice the heavy gold wore by the bride on her chest.
4) The afore mentioned chromatic division between coastline and interior. While the colorful costuming of coastline societies reflected the festive spirit, the darker colors of the men and women living in the ridges translated the hardship of the work and lifestyle, as well the colder and aggravated climate.
A nazarene widdow costume, with the embuçada, the mourning veil.
5) Religiousness in costume ornamentation. Conceived mostly in accordance to the liturgical calendar, in a society where there is a saint for every day of the week and where birth, baptism, marriage and death were the most important moments of someone’s life, competition was vivid in festive costumes. During romaria (6), one dressed themselves to be seen.
The study of these costuming have only recently been more focused on from a scientific and anthropologic perspective. Through the eye romanticism, from Almeida Garret’s Viagens na Minha Terra (7) to the first naturalist and realist painter’s perspective, these costumes appear as a nationalistic embodiment of a people that withdraws its original intentions and usages from their context and gives them new ones. With the New Estate and the dictatorship, they were held as the prime example of the true Portuguese soul. But despite their interpretations, with new eyes on their study, they are cherished in their uniqueness and beauty, within the context of their creation, which translates the diversity of a festive spirit that is very different from region to region.
(1) According to Luís Chaves. (2) As proposed by Madalena Brás Teixeira. (3) As an example, in Minho exists a great tradition of adding hearts to one’s costume, particularly of bride and groom, of which the better known are the heart-shaped arrecadas, or heavy golden earrings made of filigrana, as well as the lenços de namorados, or “lovers’ handkerchiefs”, a white handkerchief with love declarations written in colorful embroidery (notable for being written with spelling mistakes, since they were made by illiterate people). Some of these elements even represent a sexualized tone, such algibeira de minhota, the “minhota pocket”. (4) As the costumes typical from Nazaré are an example of. These mourning practices, taken with extreme seriousness, were common in fishing communities, where often the man of the household would travel for months for fishing and their house depended on such. As a demonstration of perpetual grief, the embuçadas appear in this region, a covering of the face up until the eyes, of evident Islamic influence. (5) An example of such is the portrait of Queen Catherine of Braganza’s mother, queen Luíza de Gusmán. It was predominant in both Spain and Portugal. (6) Romaria is a devotional procession to a church or parish. Time, however, gave the word a connotation of “religious festivity”. (7) Published in 1846, the book travels along the deep Portuguese regions such as Santarém, exploring with a romanticized eye the peoples and their costumes in a realist tone, as, similarly, Eça de Queiroz will later do.
Some new rules from CLRG, the Irish Dance Commission
• That all personal initials and any other name form which leads to personal identification be banned from solo costumes. Failure to comply may result in a dancer being denied the opportunity to compete at any event. Effective 1st January 2015. • New rule 4.2.7. For heavy rounds in competitions, dancers may not wear soft shoes that have been altered with the addition of heels and tips in an attempt to turn them into hard shoes. Dancers found to be wearing such altered shoes for heavy rounds may be denied access to that round of the competition. Effective 1st January 2015. • CLRG adopts the costume Infraction (Tick Box) program. The Costume committee is mandated to implement this program in all CLRG regions around the world. • Costumes should have traditional themes and cartoon characters should not be permitted. Effective 1st January 2015.
The “tick box” on adjudicators’ score sheets is where they can check to indicate that they think a dress is too short etc.