Today I will talk about the costume of Friesland in the Netherlands. Europe is, in general, the most uniform part of the world, Ethnically and Linguistically speaking, which is the result of the tradition of Nation-States. Many small ethnic groups have been assimilated at a greater rate compared to Asia or Africa. Nevertheless, there are still about 100 languages spoken on the continent. Even in western Europe there are minority languages still extant. One of these small ethnicities are the Frisians. Here is a map of Historical Friesland, which consisted of the north sea coastal area from the Netherlands to Denmark. Today, most Frisians have been assimilated by the Danish, German, and Dutch peoples.
The Frisians are divided into three groups, the West Frisians, the East Frisians and the North Frisians. They speak a language, or three closely related languages of their own, which are closely related to English, and very distinct from Dutch, German, and Danish. Here is a map showing the current extant of the Frisian Language(s). There are currently about 500,000 speakers of Frisian, the vast majority of which speak West Frisian.
I will be focusing on the West Frisians and their costume today. West Frisian is recognized as a language in the Netherlands, and the Frisians have their own Province, which is officially called Fryslân in the Frisian Language, and simply Friesland in Dutch. I should mention that in the Netherlands, there is another region called West Friesland, which is part of North Holland. Here is a map of Friesland and its position in the Netherlands.
And here is the flag of Fryslân. There is a flag which has been designed to represent all the Frisian People, but it has not been officially adopted by the InterFrisian Council.
Fryslân is an area with very rich farmland, and so the farmers in this area are historically quite well off. The costume of this area reflects this, being based on the Burgher's costumes of a couple of centuries ago. The basic parts of the woman's costume is a full skirt, the rok, and a blouse/jacket, the jak, with a skirt gathered into the waist which reaches to between hip and mid thigh.
There is a chemise, the sleeves of which sometimes show, a petticoat, or more than one, and most likely bloomers underneath. This is essential to keeping the line of the skirt. A regrettable tendency among some modern dance groups, especially in America is the omission of the petticoat. This results in the skirt sticking to the legs, and hanging limply in too narrow a fashion, as in this photograph. The other mistake is that the hair should not be visible. Other than that, they did a reasonable job, but i will only present this one photograph from America, the others are all from Fryslân.
The jak en rok are made in many colors, with many differences in detail in cut, especially of the sleeves. There is some resemblance to the traditional Welsh costume, but the overall effect is quite different. Here are some examples of the jak en rok. Less costly materials are used for everyday wear.
Here are a couple of women dressed in everyday attire. The one on the left is wearing a plaid jak en rok and an apron of solid cloth. The lace sleeves of the chemise are visible. Her accessories, which are usual, consist of a pin holding the fichu closed, as well as a purse and chatelaine hanging from the waist.
The woman on the right is wearing jak en rok of plain black and a fichu of calico. She also gives us a good look at the headress which is specific to this region. When a woman is grown, her hair is cut short. She then wears a cap of white eyelet linen and over that, a black cap. These are both visible in this photo above. Over the caps is worn the Oorijzer, the 'ear iron'. Here is an old painting showing a young woman about to have her hair cut short so as to put on the adult headdress [and apparently not very happy about it]. The woman on the left is holding a large pair of scissors, and the lace overcap and Oorijzer are sitting on the chair at left.
The Oorijzer is is not unique to this area, it is very common in many parts of the Netherlands, but in Fryslân it is unusually large. Where it is usually a band of metal with knobs on the ends, here the Oorijzer has become widened almost to helmet proportions. It is usually made of gold, but sometimes of silver. It is made to fit an individual woman, and always has a v shaped opening in front.
Over the Oorijzer, a lace cap is worn, which covers the black undercap and the Oorijzer. The cap is always made of lace, so that the gold of the Oorijzer shows through. There is a frill in back over the nape of the neck.
The 'knobs' are left uncovered, and pins hold the cap in place. The knobs are highly ornamented and sometimes set with stones.
In the 1800's, the frill hung down to the shoulders.
More recently, the frill has gotten shorter, sometimes being reduced to a mere ruffle, which i personally find much less attractive. Here are some examples from different time periods.
Over the cap with the frill, a straw hat or top hat were sometimes worn.
James Snowden, 'The Folk Dress of Europe', 1979, New York, London
LIlla Fox, 'Folk Costumes of Western Europe', 1969, London