Russian costumes are not only beautiful, they are also convenient in wearing because they were created for work without restricting freedom of movement. The variety of colors for traditional costume displays love for beauty. The Russian word “beautiful” (krasivyi) comes from the word “krasny”, the Russian for “red”. Ethnic Russian clothes include kaftan, kosovorotka and ushanka for men, sarafan and kokoshnik for women. Sarafan is a traditional Russian long, trapeze-shaped jumper dress (pinafore) worn as Russian folk costume by women and girls. Chronicles first mention it under the year 1376, and since that time it was worn well until the 21st century. Plain sarafans are still designed and worn today as a summer-time light dress. Russian women from the upper and middle classes stopped wearing traditional Russian costume in the 18th century, during Peter the Great’s modernization of Russia, apart from the kokoshniks as part a court dress (although the clothing style of Russian aristocrats differed greatly from those of commoners). It is now worn as folk costume for performing Russian folk songs and folk dancing.
Russian costumes differ a lot from each other. Each province had its own traditional costume. For example, black embroidery was traditional for the Belgorod Region (southern Russia), whereas costumes of peasant women in the Ryazan Region (central Russia) were embroidered mostly with red. The Cossacks of Southern Russia have a separate brand of culture within ethnic Russian, their clothes including papakha, which they share with the peoples of the Northern Caucasus.
“Through this ring I look at you, welcome me to your heart”
Galiċnik is a small village in the mountains of Macedonia known worldwide for organizing collective weddings each year on St. Peter’s day. In its time of glory, there were as many as 30 weddings being organized on July 21. Nowadays there are less and less, but the ceremony is still gathering tourists from all over the world appealed by the amazing costumes and the intricate rite.
According to the tradition, the wedding ceremony begins Saturday evening, at the sunset, when the groom hangs on the right side of his house a flag decorated with flowers. Gunfire announces his departure towards the village, where he meets his best men for a celebration that includes music, wine and well, partying. The next is the mother-in-law’s dance and then a traditional dance, after which the groom and his party head towards the bride’s home carrying torches. All through the night, everybody dances and is enjoying a nice time.
Sunday morning, the groom and his family go to visit their ancestors at the cemetery and ask for their blessing. Later on, back at his home, while the groom gets ready (gets a shave and a haircut) the party sings a farewell song, which sounds very familiar to the Romanian lyrics sang to the bride while women put her veil on.
Meanwhile, the bride gets dressed in the traditional wedding gown of the Galiċnik village, wearing a beautiful red costume, with long sleeves and fringes at the end, white batik, silver and gold coins around her waist and a red and black skirt. Both the bride’s and the groom’s wedding costumes are traditional, being hand sewed with silk and gold strings and decorated with folkloric elements specific to the Macedonian region. The costumes get so heavy that the bride’s wedding gown gets to weigh almost 40 kilos. Later that day, the groom and his party arrive at the bride’s house riding horses. Here are welcomed by the bride who looks through her wedding band and says: “Through this ring I look at you, welcome me to your heart”. The whole wedding party heads to the village fountain, where the bride fills up pots with water, while men dance the teskoto, a celebration dance of their ancestors who faced hardships working as emigrants. Sunday after-noon, at the St. Peter and Paul church, takes place the last part of the wedding ceremony. After that, the newly-weds dance the bride’s dance and go back at the groom’s house riding their horse. (X)
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.
A thing was happening, and then I got anxious over the thing’s script, and then the thing wasn’t happening. (And for some reason I brought it back into semi-development… a year later)
The character is in her late teens, member of an important (but not necessarily wealthy) family, becomes a runaway after an “incident”, and is part of the Elder Scrolls universe (late 3rd era, Iliac Bay region)
Medium: leather, silk, metal
The extravagant fringe on these gauntlet gloves features purple silk, gold cord and gold tassels. The gloves were collected by Stewart Culin (1858-1929) during a collection expedition in 1920. Culin was the Brooklyn Museum’s first Curator of Ethnology, serving from 1903 to 1929. Possessing an insatiable curiosity and appetite for collecting objects of all kinds, Culin conducted over twenty worldwide collecting expeditions between 1901 and 1928. The trips covered American Indian territories, New England, Asia, India, Great Britain, and all of Eastern and Western Europe. The seven expeditions between 1917 and 1928 were specifically focused on collecting regional textiles and costumes from Eastern and Western Europe and, to a lesser extent, New England. Culin’s goals for these trips were not just to expand the Museum’s holdings, but also to preserve their cultural contexts. He did so through amassing photographs, notebooks, and ephemera which documented the social, commercial, and cultural circumstances surrounding their acquisition. His collecting philosophy embraced both rare and high-quality pieces as well as those which represented daily life or were of particular social or historical interest.