Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Introduction to the costumes of Savouè, Savoy, or Savoie




Hello all, today I will do an introduction to some of the costumes of Savouè, as it is called in the local language, a region which is called Savoy in English, Savoie in French, and Savoia in Italian. 

This is the territory that was held by the independent House of Savoy. The House of Savoy was established in 1003. It existed as a County [A region ruled by a Count] until 1416, then as an independent Duchy until 1714. The northern part, Vaud, became part of Switzerland in 1564, and the southern part was disputed between France and Italy between the years of 1714 and 1860 until the present borders were established. The Departements of Savoie and Haute Savoie are now in France, The Cantons of Vaud, Fribourg and Valais are now in Switzerland, and the Paese of Aosta, Piedmonte and Liguria are now in Italy.
 For more on the Realm and region of Savoy, see these articles.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savoy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/County_of_Savoy


Prior to the big push in the early 20th cent. from Paris to make all of the Nation of France speak the language of their own northern region, which we now call simply French, this area, Savoie, Haut-Savoie, Vaud, Aosta and some neighboring regions, especially to the west spoke the language known as Arpitan or Franco-Provençal. This still survives to some extent, especially outside France in Vaud, Fribourg, Valais, Aosta and the northwest corner of Piedmonte.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franco-Proven%C3%A7al_language




Here is a map showing the traditional regions of the French part of Savoy. I will be following these as the modern administrative departements do not reflect the traditional cultural regions. The three northern regions of Chablès, Fôcegni and Genevês are known as Upper Savoy, The three southern regions simply as Savoy. The labels on this map are in Arpitan or Franco-Provençal. In this and the next two postings I will be focusing on the three southern regions of Savouè prôpra, Tarentèsa and Môrièna [in French, Savoie Propre,  Tarentaise and Maurienne ]. I will address Savoie Propre in this posting, and dedicate a future posting to each of the other two.




This region is at the Western end of the Alps, and much of it is mountainous. In such territory, regions are defined by the river valleys, and separated by the mountains. Here is one map to help understand the different regions, and one that shows the river valleys.



SAVOIE PROPRE


Chambery


The region in the northwest, around Chambery, shown in light yellow, is a well populated fertile lowland, and like many such regions, the folk costume either never developed, or was lost early. Here is a couple of the very few photos which I have found of the costume from this area. Even the folkloric groups from this area wear costumes from the highlands.




Bauges


To the east of Chambery, there is a highland region known as the Bauges, shown in dark gold in the map above. I have  found  little from this region.


This woman is from Gresy sur Isere.




This woman is from le Chatelarde.




Val d'Arly


East of this area is the valley of Arly, on the border with Upper Savoy, north of the town of Ugine.
This valley still has a living costume tradition. One distinctive feature of the costume is the patterned knitted jacket worn by the men. The particular coif worn by the women in this region is called the beguine.






Beaufortin


This region is south and east of the Arly valley, and forms the last part of Savoie Propre which I will cover. This area also has a costume tradition which is being kept alive by various groups in the area. The coif of this region is called the Berres.




Thank you for reading. I will cover the costumes of Tarantaise and Maurienne in two other postings.  I hope you have found this interesting and inspiring.



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.

Rkozakand@aol.com

Source Material:
G. Collomb, 'Les Costumes de Savoie', Chambery, 1972
Fabian et Anne da Costa, 'Costumes Traditionels de Savoie', Lyons, 2000
Daniel Dequier & Francois Isler, 'Costumes de Fete en Savoie', Seyssinet, 2002
R. Feuillie, 'Quelques Costumes de Savoie', Annecy,
Andre Sainsard, 'Costumes Folkloriques Provinces Françaises', Paris, 1972
Royere, Gardilanne, Moffat et al, 'Les Costumes Regionaux de la France', New York, 1929
Charles-Brun, 'Costumes des Provinces Françaises', Paris, 1937
P. Leroux, 'Costumes Regionaux', Paris, 1940
Caroline Brancq, 'Les Costumes regioneaux d'Autrefois', Paris, 2003




Sunday, March 18, 2012

Kreuzdecke of Austria or Österreich


Hello all,

I am looking at so many things these days, busy working, embroidering and sewing, and yet I want to add new material to my blog. Today will be a quick and easy posting. 
Austria is a country which is very rich in living costume and embroidery. Cross-stitch has been done here since at least the 1500's. We have copies of pattern books which were published in that era, and many of the designs are still used today.
In Austria, as in most places in Europe, Many household linens were embroidered, and many people still carry on this tradition. Decorative pillows [polster], runners [lauefer], and scarves for furniture, covers for breadbaskets [korbdecke], tablecloths [tischdecke], etc. Many of these are done in cross-stitch, often with portions of the design executed in Holbein or outline stitch.  I will focus today on one particular composition which is popular in Austria and rare otherwise, the Kreuzdecke, or 'cross-cover'.
Many people embroider tablecloths, and usually they embroider a border around the outside edge. The Austrians also do this. Here is a typical example with eagles and flowers.


 Center and corner designs are often added in the middle, as many other people also do. Here is a small tablecloth with a multitude of designs along the outside border and one in the center.


This image is in black and white, but the embroidery is in red. Black, Maroon or dark Blue may also be used.
 What seems to be unique to Austria is embroidering a cross-shaped design covering the center. At the top of the article is a closeup of the center of one of these tablecloths. Here is a view of the whole thing.




 This piece was embroidered in 1876 and forms part of the collection of the Museum Joanneum in Trautenfels Castle in Steiermark. This design features the very typical motifs of hops, carnations, hearts and acorns in a striking composition.
Such cloths are still in use in many Austrian households. Here is a family on an 'Ausflug', a sort of formal Picnic, just outside Vienna. This picture was taken in the 1960's. They have laid a tablecloth on the grass which was embroidered in 1905. 




 It is not uncommon to see Dirndles and Lederhosen worn in Austria. There are department stores where you can buy them off the rack. You can see that this design is similar to the one shown above, with eagles and flowers. Here is the design used on this tablecloth, although I believe that the outside motifs  are not on the cloth. You will notice that there is no outside border on this particular tablecloth.


Any border design can be used to make a Kreuzdecke. Here is an example in which a border design with corners was repeated four times on a tablecloth to make a Kreuzdecke.


You will notice that on the cross, the border design is doubled. The center of the cloth was elaborated using motifs from the design. You will also notice that the outside corners differ from the corners where the border enters the cross. This is a very good example of someone taking a relatively simple design and elaborating a larger composition from it.


Note that when doing cross-stitch, the thread used should be heavy enough that each stitch makes a square. This then acts as a pixel which can be used to build up a design. The thread should not be thin enough that the stitch resembles an X. The stitches should also not have any space between them. 
This concept of the Kreuzdecke may possibly have come from the habit of embroidering covers for Easter Baskets. In Central and Eastern Europe it is the custom to take some of the food which is prepared for Easter Breakfast to Church to have it blessed after the Easter Morning service. This is done in Russia, Greece, Poland and everyplace in between and is also done in Austria. Included in the basket are lamb or ham, sausages, cheese, rich breads, eggs, butter, and other foods which were abstained from during Lent. This is what goes into a proper Easter Basket.  These baskets are covered with an embroidered cloth. Sometimes it is just a cloth as would be used for a breadbasket. This example uses a geometric design which could have been done almost anywhere in Europe.

 
But sometimes explicitly religious symbols are included, as in this example of a 'Weihkorbdecke'. There is a central cross design, the Lamb of God, IHS incorporating a cross and a crown, hearts, and as is typical of Western Europe, the year of embroidering and the initials of the embroiderer.


It is easy to imagine this basic composition expanded for a tablecloth. 
Here are a few more examples of Austrian Kreuzdecke and their designs. Here is a playful design with crayfish.


Here we have chickens, I remember I once copied this design, but I changed half the Roosters into Hens.


Here is a variant of the same design. Someone took the same basic concept and elaborated their own version of it.


Here is an example of a fad which has been common for a few years now, of replacing a design of black and red or blue and red with light and dark blue. I admit that I don't like it, but it is popular. Here we have the cross, and corner designs, but again there is no outer border.


This tablecloth is not a kreuzdecke, but can arguably be considered a variant. In any case, it is a beautiful piece.


 
Any border design can be used to make a Kreuzdecke. You may have to use some imagination and rearrange motifs to make a center or corner, or double the design, or do a mirror image of it. Feel free to do so. An easy way to design a corner is to use a hand-held mirror, and move it around to different parts of the border design until you find an effect that you like.


 A very good source for designs, mostly from Central and Western Europe is this book. This is a reprint of a book which originally came out in 1878, but many of the designs go back to the 15th cent or earlier.


 It consists of a short introduction and page after page of graphed designs. No space is wasted on step-by-step explanations of other people's projects. The provenance of the individual designs is not given, which is unfortunate, but I still highly recommend this book as a source of designs.
Take motifs or designs from here or elsewhere, plan, design, and execute your own project.
Make something of beauty to use in your life, or to give to someone else to beautify their lives.
Thank you for reading, I hope you have found this interesting and inspiring.



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.

Rkozakand@aol.com

Source Material:

Carola Förg, 'Traditional Motifs for Needlework and Knitting', Asheville, NC, USA, 1985

Maria Erlbacher,'Kreuzstichmuster' Teil 3, Trautenfels, Austria, 2003

Maria Erlbacher, 'Kreuzstichmuster' Teil 4, Trautenfels, Austria, 2007

Maria and Andreas Foris, ';Charted Folk Designs for Cross-stitch Embroidery', Dover Publications, New York, 1975

Joseph Wechsberg, 'The Cooking of Vienna's Empire', Time-Life Books, New York, 1974


Friday, March 9, 2012

Overview of the Costumes and Embroidery of Breizh, Brittany or Bretagne



Hello all,

I received a request to do an overview of the costumes of Brittany [Breizh, Bretagne]. I do not know if this will be in time to help her with her class project, but I had been planning on doing this for a while in any case.
I have already done one in-depth article on the costume called Giz-Fouen from Rosparden. 
Brittany is traditionally divided into two parts, Lower Brittany and Upper Brittany. The lower and upper defined by altitude. Lower Brittany is the western half, where the people speak the Breton Language, which derives from the same root as Welsh and Cornish. Upper Brittany is the eastern half, where the people speak French, and traditionally used the Gallo Language, which is also derived from Latin. The Breton Language has been retreating to the west for some  centuries now. Here is a map showing upper and lower Brittany against the traditional provinces. The second map gives the names of the provinces in the Breton Language as well as in French.




In France, as in many places, the traditional provinces or regions no longer have  any legal standing, purely administrative districts have taken their place for legal and governmental purposes. Some maps that you will see show these administrative regions rather than the traditional cultural regions.
Brittany, or Little Britain, was settled by people from the Island of Great Britain who fled their homes during the Anglo-Saxon invasion.
For more information about the History, Language and Culture of Brittany, see this article.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brittany 

There are many costumes in Brittanny, by some counts up to 66, but I will not be able to show them all, in fact I have not found images for all of them. They are also not evenly distributed, there being more costumes and more elaborate and colorful ones in the west. 

LOWER BRITTANY

The four best known and most elaborate costumes are all from the western part of the province of Gernew [Cornouialle]. I will start with these.

Giz-Fouen costume from the region of Rosporden and Pont-Aven.

I have already done an in depth posting on this costume. Here is the region and the costume itself.


Bigouden Costume of Pont l'Abbe.

This is perhaps the most famous costume and embroidery of Brittany. Here is the location of the region.


The photograph at the top of the article is of a professional embroiderer's shop in this region.
You can see the masses of embroidery on the garments they are working on. I find it interesting to see men also engaged in the embroidery. The costumes they are wearing are those of the end of the 19th cent. Here are a couple of photographs, even today some people prefer the old form of the costume.





 During the early part of the 20th century, the coif continued to grow until it reached monumental proportions. This continued until the advent of automobiles made it inconvenient. The skirts shortened, and the aprons became white with free-form embroidery.



The Glazik costume of Kemper [Quimper]

This is another well-known costume of Brittany, often featured on the famous pottery of the area. Here is the location of the region.


 Here is a group performing at a festival in Poznan', Poland.


[This photograph is taken from the book 'Ethnic Dress' by Frances Kennett, In the book she implies that this is a Polish dance group, which it clearly is not. Most general books on folk costume, even good ones, have at least one such glaring error. Make sure you check multiple sources.]
The exact form of the embroidery, especially on the men's vests, varies by the town.



This costume has several variations, some of which are quite reserved.


 A jacket for the men is part of the costume as well.


Alternatively, some versions of the costume are very colorful indeed, as this example from Kerfeunteun.



The Costume of Plougastel-Daoulas

This is one of the most colorful of all the costumes of Brittany. It is only found in the one city.

Here is an older form of the costume. Notice the rich lace and embroidery.


Here is a more recent form.
 


The province of Leon.


This costume is found in the regions of Brignogan and Plounéour-Trez on the mid-northern coast.



Kerlouan, just to the west of the above region, is famous for the cone-shaped coif.


Saint-Pol-de-Léon in the northeast corner.


Inland Leon


The Province of Tregor


Tregor is characterized by a small coif with two narrow wings, called the touken.


 There is also a larger coif called the katiole.



The Province of Gwened or Vannes. 

This province is named after Gwynedd in Wales, another remembrance of the roots of the people of Brittany. 


The costumes of Gwened or Vannes are characterized by a coif in which the front has developed a flat shield-like shape. Here is an example from Auray.


The costume of the Island of Groix, in the Lorient region.



Sometimes the entire coif is made of lace which covers the side of the head. Here is the costume of Baud.




 Sometimes the pinafore apron is highly embroidered.



 The dances here are just as active and spectacular as in other parts of Brittany.


UPPER BRITTANY
 There is much less costume material available from Upper Brittany. There is also much less variety in the costumes.  I here present what I have  been able to find by province.


The Province of Sant Brieg [in French, Saint Brieuc or Penthievre].




This is an example of the Burgher's or Town Costume, widespread among the various folklorique groups of Upper Brittany.



Province of Sant Malou [Saint Malo]






Province of Roazhon [Rennes]
   


 Notice the coif has the side lappets folded over the top and pinned in place. Also notice the triskelion on her neckband. This is a very Celtic symbol and one of the National symbols of Breizh [Brittany].

Province of Guerande 

This is a small province with a very colorful and unique costume. This is known as the costume of the Marsh-Dwellers.


Province of Naonaid [Nantes]


When the French Government instituted the Departements [administrative regions] to replace the old traditional Provinces, they removed the Bro-Naonaid [pays de Nantes] from Brittany and made it administratively part of the Departement of Loire-Atlantique. The people of Brittany still consider it to be an integral part of their land, however.

Historically, the women of Nantes wore a very high coif, somewhat reminiscent of those of Normandy. Here is an image of a couple of girls from Pornic, mid 1800's.


Here is the costume of a folkloric group in Vertou. They did a very good job of researching their local materials to make this outfit. You can see many details on their website.
 http://cercleceltiquevertou.free.fr/dossiercostume.htm


A children's perfoming group from Jans. As in many children's groups from many countries, the skirts have been shortened far beyond what any adult would wear. A simple bonnet is worn instead of the adult coif, which is common in many areas.
http://filetsbleus.free.fr/groupe/jans.htm 


Coif and costume from the area of Clisson.


Town costume of Nantes itself as presented by the performing group Bleuniadur.
http://bleuniadur.over-blog.com/article-2268231.html


I would like to emphasize that this is not a comprehensive listing. There are yet other costumes which I have not covered.
 Thank you for reading, I hope you have found this interesting and informative.


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.

Rkozakand@aol.com

Source Material:
Joseph Jigourel - Yanna Fournier, 'Costumes de Bretagne', Brest, 2000
Pierre Jakez Helias, 'Coiffes et Costumes de Bretagne', 1983
Bruno Helias, 'Breton Costumes', Florence, Italy, 1997
V. Hetet-Roudaut et al, 'La Broderie en Bretagne', Morlaix, 1989
Andre Sainsard, 'Costumes Folkloriques Provinces Françaises', Paris, 1972
Royere, Gardilanne, Moffat et al, 'Les Costumes Regionaux de la France', New York, 1929
Charles-Brun, 'Costumes des Provinces Françaises', Paris, 1937
P. Leroux, 'Costumes Regionaux', Paris, 1940