Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Woman's costume of the central Dalmatian coast, Croatia

Hello all,

Today i will talk a bit about the women's Costume of the central Dalmatian Coast. There are several variants of this costume, but I have more information on the what is considered the daily costume of Split than any of the others, so I will cover it in more detail. The  formal 'Town Costume' which is more well known, will be the subject of my next posting.
This costume first developed in a village on the very outskirts of Split called Veli Varoš, but has been adopted by the town dwellers today as well. The photo above shows one of the festive or dress versions of the costume on the right and the 'daily' costume on the left. Here is another photo of the everyday costume. The pad on her head is so that she can carry loads on it.

Here is a rear view of both the daily and formal costume of Split.

This outfit is quite typical of the woman's costumes of the central Adriatic coast. There are similar costumes worn, among other places, on Otok Pag,

in Vrsi,

in Pakoštane,

on Otok Murter,

In Omiš,

 and even in Boka Kotorska, a Croatian enclave on the coast of Montenegro. The jacket is an optional piece of clothing with all of these costumes.

  The daily costume of Split consists of a linen chemise, long, finely pleated skirt, seperate bodice in this case, and an apron which is also pleated. The skirt and apron both have several horizontal tucks as well as being pleated. The base of the costume is the chemise, here called košuja, which has a very typical cut. In Split, the sleeves are gathered into cuffs, in contrast with some of the others shown above.

Under the influence of city dress, a petticoat, the šotana, is worn over the chemise. This is also of linen. It is long, full, and has a couple of horizontal tucks.

 In Split, again unlike Pag, Pakoštan or Murter,but like Omiš,  the bodice is seperate from the skirt. It is called korpet, has a high neckline and overlaps in front. For daily wear it is made of simple or even home-woven cloth.

 Notice the round silver buttons, typical of much of central Dalmatia. These were especially associated with Šibenik, and may be small or large, simple or very fancy. Similar buttons are found in the north of Sardinia as well.

The skirt called brnica, is ankle length, tends to be dark in color and is finely pleated. If you look closely at the skirt on the right, you will see that it is woven in narrow stripes.

The front of the skirt, which is covered by the apron, is not pleated. This is very common in Folk Dress. The skirt is quite full, about 4.5 meters or so.

An apron is always worn with this outfit. There seems to be a preference for quiet browns and dark colors, with stripes woven into the cloth, ribbons sewn on and many horizontal tucks, after which the entire apron is pleated.

  A small scarf may be worn over the shoulders.

 This costume is worn with high shoes and knit stockings

A wide array of elaborate jewelry is worn in this region, but the daily costume of Split generally has little accessorization. The formal or festive costume is another matter. 
I hope you have found this interesting. I find that most folk costumes are quite attractive.

Feel free to contact me with requests for research. I hope to eventually cover all of Europe and the Former Russian Empire/Soviet Union. I also gratefully accept tips on source materials which i may not have. I also accept commissions to research/design, sew, and/or embroider costumes or other items for groups or individuals. I also choreograph and teach folk dance.
Roman K.
Source Material:
Ilda Vidovic-Begonja, 'Narodna Nošnja Splita', Zagreb, 1988
Ivankovic & Sumenic, 'Croatian National Costumes', Zagreb, 2001
Vladimir Kirin, 'Narodne Nošnje Jugoslavije - Hrvatska', Zagreb, 1986
Ribaric/Szenczi, 'Vezak Vezla - Croatian Folk Embroidery', Zagreb, 1973
Jelka Ribaric et al, 'The Folk Costumes of Croatia', Zagreb, 1975
Walter Kolar, 'Croatians - Costumes they Wear', Pittsburgh, 1975
Nikola Pantelic, 'Traditional Arts and Crafts in Yugoslavia', Belgrade, 1984
Vladimir Salopek, 'Folk Costumes and Dances of Yugoslavia, Zagreb, 1987

Mariana Gusic, 'Traditional Femole [sic] Headgear in Croatian Folk Costume', Zagreb
Postcards in personal collection

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Costume of the Caucasian Region

Hello all,

I would like to do an overview of the costume of the Caucasian region, meaning the area immediately around the Caucuses mountains. This is an incredibly complicated area ethnically and linguistically, having over 50 nationalities living in a small area. Undoubtedly the richest such area in Europe, and having no rivals in central or north Asia either. However, the culture is remarkably uniform over this area, and the traditional costume is very similar for many of these peoples. Here is a simplified ethnolinguistic map of the area. [Believe it or not, many small groups are omitted] You will find it helpful to refer back to this map through the course of this article.

Linguistically, the ethnic groups resident in the area fall into three large families: Indo-European, which includes the Armenians and the Ossetians. Turkic, which includes the Azerbaijani, the Nogay, the Kumyk, the Balkar, and the Karachay, and the Caucasian, which includes the Georgians, the Circassians, the Chechens and many more.
This area can be divided into three areas, the 'Transcaucuses, which includes the former Russian Empire/Soviet Union south of the mountains, the North Caucuses, the area north of the mountains which form several autonomous regions which are still politically part of the Russian Federation, and Dagestan. Dagestan is an Autonomous region within the Russian Federation, north of the mountains and on the coast of the Caspian Sea. It is so complicated ethnically that I will reserve some more future postings for the subject.

The standard Caucasian costume for men consists of  black pants, long soft-soled boots, a shirt or beshmet, a cherkesska, or knee-length jacket with wide sleeves, and often cartridge holders on the chest, as well as a long dagger hanging on the belt. For women an ankle or floor length dress with a fitted waist, often an overdress or bodice with a long peplum,  a breastpiece, and a veil, often supported by a headband or hat of some sort. Extra long and/or slit false sleeves are also common. The costume very much resembles the modern 'wedding dress' worn in the west, especially as it is often made in white or pastel colors, but it is a very old tradition in the caucuses, and perhaps originally inspired the modern western wedding dress, which does not have a very long history. The costume over this region is so similar that it is not unusual to see the exact same photograph presented as being from different ethnicities in the region. I am going to do a very quick overview in this article. Each of these nations deserve more attention, but i just don't have room in this article.

In the south of this region, we have 'The Big Three', relatively speaking, the Azerbaijani, the Armenians, and the Georgians. I have to laugh sometimes when on the news, they talk about tensions in this region 'for years'. Yeah just a few years.

The Azerbaijani.

The Azerbaijani speak an Oghuz Turkic language which arrived in the area in 1030. These Turks invaded from central Asia and assimilated the local people who spoke an Iranian language called Azari. So the Azeri as a Turkic people have been in the area for roughly a thousand years. There are somewhere between 24 and 33 million of them.
They are the majority population in the independent state of Azerbaijan, as well as the northwesternmost Iranian province of the same name, which covers roughly an equivalent amount of territory.

Azerbaijani Wedding Dance with a silk canopy

 Azeri couple dance, typical of all the Caucuses

The Armenians 

The Armenians speak an Indo-European language which separated relatively early and forms an independent branch of the language family, somewhere between Greek and Persian. They arrived in this area 3 to 4 thousand years ago, from where is not clear, because there are various theories as to the genesis of the Indo-Europeans, and the issue is not settled. There are roughly 8 million of them, about half of which live in the independent nation of Armenia, and the rest are scattered in many places. They call themselves Hay, and their country Hayastan.
They have a very ancient and admirable culture [in spite of the Kardashians]. 
They are not properly a Caucasian people, as their country lies somewhat more to the south, centered around Mt. Ararat. But among their many beautiful folk costumes are some that fall into the general form of the Caucasian costume.

Armenian woman's dance

Armenian mixed dance Shalakho 

The Georgians 

The Georgians cannot be linked linguistically with any other people outside of the Caucasian region, so they must have lived in their present homeland for a very long time. They call themselves Kartvelebi and their nation Sakartvelo.  The English word Georgian is a corruption of what the Russians and other surrounding nations call them, which is Gruzyn. Their country in Russian is called Gruzia.
There are about 8 million of them. They are widely known for their polyphonic choral singing, as performed around the world by the famous Rustavi Choir. The male dancers in Georgia, as well as in the north Caucuses, are famous for dancing on the knuckles of their toes, which supposedly developed as a way to negotiate narrow mountain ledges.

Georgian dance Svanuri, from the Svan region, who have their own dialect/language. You see the women at the beginning, then the famous Rustavi choir sings, then you see the men dance. Wonderful. 

Kartuli, the national dance of the Kartvelebi, the dominant ethnic group of Georgia. The woman has a nice dance solo in the second half

 Now we shall cover the North Caucuses. Here is a map showing the current political divisions of this area, to which I will be referring. We will be covering them roughly from west to east.

The Abkhaz

The Abkhaz speak a northwest Caucasian language, much closer to Adyghe or Kabardin than to Georgian. They have declared themselves independent from the Republic of Georgia, but not many nations recognise this. They number between 1 and 6 hundred thousand.

Abaza, Abkhazian dance

 Apsuva, Abkhazian dance

Festive Abkhazian dance

The Circassians 

The Circassian homeland lies north and west of the Caucuses, The city of Sochi is in the heart of it. The Circassians were the object of Ethnic Cleansing by the Russian Empire in the lattter half of the 19th cent, at which time many were scattered around the middle east. There are currently perhaps 7 million Circassians worldwide, of which maybe one in 7 speaks their native language. They call themselves Adyghe, and their neighbors generally refer to them as Cherkess. They live today mostly in the Adyghe Autonomous Republic, or in the Karachay-Cherkess Autonomous Republic. Most of them live in diaspora. They also speak a Caucasian language, related only to other languages in the area. Depending on the dialect, their language has 50 to 60 consonants.  

Circassian dance of welcome

Leader for a Circassian dance group

The Kabardin 

  The Kabardin are closely related to the Adyghe, and are sometimes considered to speak a dialect of that language. They are the easternmost of the Circassian peoples. They share the Autonomous Republic of Kabardin-Balkaria with the Balkars. There are maybe a half million of them. Their language consists of about 50 consonants and only 2 or 3 vowels. 

Dance 'Karbardinka in two movements, the costume of the second half is spectacular

Another group performing "Kabardinka'

The Karachay 

The Karachay are a Turkic people of the Kipchak branch who share the Republic of Karachay-Cherkessk with some of the Circassian people. They are linguistically the same as the Kumyk people of Dagestan. There are about 200,000 of them. The Kipchaks arrived in the general area in the 11th century, with other Turkic tribes.  They have adopted the costume and culture of the Caucuses.

Karachay dance

The Balkar 

The Balkars are also a Turkic people who speak a Kipchak language which is very close to that of the Karachay.  There are about 110,000 of them. They share the Republic of Kabardin-Balkaria with the Kabardins. They consider themselves to share an origin with the Bulgar people who historically inhabited the mid-Volga region.  Many Balkars feel a close kinship with the Karachay, as the Kabardins do with the Cherkess and Adyghe. There seems to be somewhat of a movement to redraw the regional borders to reflect this kinship, to make the Kabardin area part of a greater Circassia, and combine the other two into Karachay-Balkaria.

Here is a video of a Balkar dance. 

The Ossetians

  The Ossetians speak a Northeast Iranian language, which belongs to the Indo-European Language family. They are descended from the Alans, who once held extensive territory north of the Caucuses. There are about 720,000 of them. Their homeland, Ossetia, is divided in two parts, North Ossetia, which is part of the Russian Federation, and South Ossetia, which lies south of the Caucuses, which is nominally part of Georgia, but is de-facto independent today. 

Two Ossetic dances, Simd and Khonga, performed by the Georgian Ensemble Rustavi

Ossetians dancing at a wedding in street clothes, and doing a great job.Very elegant untill the end when the guys start showing off, and they have something to show.

Ossetian group 'Alania' doing typical Caucasian Drumming

The Ingush 

The Ingush call themselves the Ghalghai. They speak a Northeasten Caucasian language, related to that of the Chechens, and the languages of Dagestan. The Ingush and the Chechens together are referred to as the Nakh, or Vainakh. There are about 500,000 of them. 

Ingush dance, although i think i remember this choreography from Moiseiev. The men in their floor length burkas do an impressive job.

An outdoor dance concert in Ingushetia

The Chechens 

The Chechens are closely related to the Ingush. They call themselves the Nokhchi. They are the largest of the North Caucasian peoples at about 1.5 million. They have continually resisted Russian Occupation since the Russian Empire first took over the Caucasian region in the 1860's.  

A Chechen couple dancing at a get-together somewhere in the middle east.

Chechen group 'Wainakh' performing onstage.

Dagestan has about 30 different ethnic groups. It is complicated  enough that I will cover that region in a different post.

This costume has proven to be so popular that it was picked up even by Ukrainians and Russians who lived near the area, especially by the men. The Ukrainian Kuban' Kozaks, 

the Don Cossaks [many of whom consider themselves to be neither Ukrainian nor Russian]

As well as some Russians who lived in the lowlands north of the Caucuses.

and some Russian 'Cossak' groups are famous for also wearing the same basic outfit. It is undeniable that the origin of this costume lies with the peoples of the Caucuses.

I hope you have enjoyed this 'short' introduction to the costume and [some of] the peoples of the Caucuses.

The majority of these images I have off the web, from various websites devoted to these various peoples.

Feel free to contact me with requests for research. I hope to eventually cover all of Europe and the Former Russian Empire/Soviet Union. I also gratefully accept tips on source materials which i may not have. I also accept commissions to research/design, sew, and/or embroider costumes or other items for groups or individuals. I also choreograph and teach folk dance.
Roman K.