Today i will talk about one example from the third major costume region of Croatia. This is the Adriatic or Littoral region, This region covers the entire Adriatic coast between the Italian and Albanian borders, the vast majority of which is in Croatia, along with the small coastal regions of Slovenia and Montenegro. Here is a general map of the Croatian part of this region.
I will be talking specifically about the costume of Otok Krk, the island of Krk. [This is not an abbreviation, this is the complete word]. I know that sometimes Anglos complain that slavic languages don't have enough vowels; i guess that this would be a good example. You can see Krk located on the map above, it is the northernmost, and generally considered to be the largest of the Adriatic Islands of Croatia. Here is a closeup map of the Island.
The island is traditionally considered to have 7 citadels, each dedicated to one of the 7 deadly sins. One unique distinction of the island is that this is one of the few places to retain the original slavic alphabet, the Glagolithic, which was developed by St. Cyril. Because the shapes of the letters are rather complicated, it was superceded in most places by the Cyrillic alphabet, which is based on the Greek, and to some extent, the Hebrew Alphabets, and was most likely introduced by one of Cyril's students. Here is more information on the Glagolithic.
On Krk, the Glagolithic was used to write the Roman Mass and other Church books in the Old Slavonic Language. Here is one example from a recent book cover from Krk. At the top is the author's name, followed by the title of the book in the Latin Croatian alphabet, followed by the same title in Glagolithic, and on the bottom an expanded translation in English. There is a one to one correspondence between the Glagolithic and Croatian letters. This is also evidence of the close connection that the people of the island feel with this alphabet.
There is basically one costume on the island, which has minor local variations. The skirt is shorter than in most of the Adriatic region, but shows many of the typically Mediterranean features characteristic of the region. Here are a few images of the costume from different sources.
This first is a photo taken in the market place in 1936 of people from Kornić.
The dress costume from the town of Baška.
There is lace attached around the cuff and neck openings. The linen is gathered in a sort of 'smocking' which shows designs upon close examination.
The first, or narrow underskit was originally just the lower part of the chemise. It may have been seperated when there was a desire to make the 'blouse' part fuller. It is not possible to widen the lower part, because it provides necessary modesty when dancing. The first underskirt is closed on a waistband with a hook, but may also have shoulder straps. Here you can see what i mean. The hem is finished with lace or eyelet.
Over this is worn a second, fuller underskirt, and sometimes a third, each one fuller than the one underneath, but still less full than the top skirt, so that a tiered effect is made when spinning. Each successive petticoat has a wider band of commercial eyelet on the hem.
The ribbon seen here is a traditional part of the wedding costume.
A jacket, called haljica, may be worn with the costume.
Jewelry consists of hoop earrings with pendants, crosses and religious pendants and medallions. Elaborate jewelry is a hallmark of this region, but not much is known from this particular island. Of course, this depends on the economic status of the particular woman.
I will continue with the description of the men's costume in the next posting. I will close with one more image of this costume.
Here is a link to the Croatian National Ensemble doing the Tanac folk dance of this island. Unfortunately this is a 'professional' video. 'Professional' videos feel that they have to have at least 6 camera angles, change shots every 3 seconds or so, include useless views like that from the back of the hall and closeups of the musicians and the dancer's faces, and in general hide more of the dance than they show. Speaking for all who are interested in Folk Dance: Put ONE camera where it can view the dancers from head to foot, and where they fill the view and LEAVE IT THERE. When we watch a video of a dance performance, we want to SEE THE DANCE, not the audience, and not fancy camera work. Oh well. In any case, this is a wonderful performance, even if the editor denies us the opportunity to see much of it. You get a good view of the costumes as well.
Here is a very old archival video of the dance from this island, made in the 1930's, i believe. It suffers from some of the same problems as the first one, and the sound is not in synch with the video, as you do not hear the singing at the same time as you see it. But it is still a valuable piece of historical testimony.
Here is a video made by a local group from this island performing at the International Folk Festival in Zagreb, which takes place once every 4 years. I need to figure out how to get back there, I attended once in the 1980's, and enjoyed it immensely.
Thank you for reading, I hope that you have found this interesting.
An appeal to my readers:, i am always looking for good source material for my blog. Right now i am looking to find good material on Greek costumes. If anyone knows of a place to obtain the second volume of 'Greek Folk Costume' by Angeliki Hatzimichali please let me know. [Is there a third volume?]
I have recently returned from Kansas City where i taught a Greek Folk Dance workshop, which went quite well. I thank Betsy and Chris for the opportunity.
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
Zorislava Culic, 'Narodne Nosnje u Bosni i Hercegovini', Sarajevo, 1963
Postcards in personal collection