Today I will talk about the costume of Szamotuły [Shah-mo-too-wih]. This district lies in the macroregion of Wielkopolska, in west central Poland, north of Silesia and south of Pomerania. Wielkopolska was the heart of the original Polish Kingdom of Mieszko in the 10th cent, with its capitol at Gniezno. It eventually became part of the Prussian Empire. While there were some German colonists in this region, the countryside remained strongly Polish. The folk costume of Szamotuły was retained as a symbol of Polish identity. Here is a map which shows Wielkopolska within the borders of present day Poland, in red.
The major city of Wielkopolska today is Poznań. Szamotuły lies to the northwest of this city. According to historical sources, the costume was once more widespread to the south and east, as shown in the inset below.
In my opinion, this would be a good choice for dance groups who make their own costumes. The men's costume in particular is very sharp looking, stages well, and makes a good contrast to the women's pastel attire. The entire outfit can be made from bought materials, in a way that some of the costumes from central Poland cannot, as they rely on very specific woven cloth.
The women's base garment, is of course, a chemise. It is full length, and traditionally made of linen, although later it sometimes came to be made of cotton. Here are two possible cuts. The first is an older, more traditional cut. The second cut has been modified under the influence of city fashion.
In relatively recent times bloomers were worn under the chemise, this likely came from German influence.
The first petticoat, piekielnica, was red, and made of flannel or wool, depending on the time of year.It should reach to 10 cm above the ankle and have 2 cm pleats around the waist. It could have satin stitch floral designs in black, or other ornamentation. Here is an example.
For festive occasions, a second petticoat was worn over this. This one was of percale or batiste, and decorated with white embroidery. lace, and tucks.
The skirt itself, spódnica, was relatively full, with gathers on the sides and back, and relatively flat on the front. It might have a flounce on the hem. In summer the skirt was made of light material, white or pastel colors, often with a pattern of dots or small flowers. This was considered especially appropriate for unmarried girls, and is the type of skirt most commonly seen on stage today.
In cooler weather, and for older women, the skirt could be of many different colors, and was heavier, usually of wool. it could be dark red, dark blue, brown, with vertical stripes, usually red and blue, or even plaid.
This first image is actually from Grodzisk Wielkopolski in the neighboring Koscian costume region that has a similar costume.
The white linen aprons were adorned with embroidery, lace, and sometimes tulle applique, as we see here shown off by a married woman.
For less dressy occasions the aprons were of a solid color, most often deep blue for work days, or a color which harmonized with the skirt. White embroidery on a colored background, along the bottom edge and the ends of the apron ties, was known, similar to that done in Kujawy.
The bodice was lined with linen and had a stuffed roll at the bottom, called 'kishka', which was worn under the skirt, and helped hold it in place. The bodice was made in a variety of materials, depending on the occasion. It summer it was most commonly sky blue, blue, rose, aquamarine [celadon], sometimes with a design, but never a floral one. In colder weather it was made in darker colors. The festive bodice was of the same cut but of finer materials, and often had ruched ribbon as an ornament.
Over the bodice, and for married women, over the jacket, a separate collar was worn, called gorsik. This consisted of a length of linen 2 cm wide which went around the neck, closed with a button, and a wide length of embroidered linen, lace, or tulle which was heavily gathered into it.
Sometimes an intermediate length of cloth enabled the collar to be gathered so tightly. This collar was apparently sewn to the chemise until about 1890. Red coral beads were worn over this, at least by unmarried girls.
A cap, czepek, was worn by both girls and married women. These were originally of fine linen and lace, but later came to be made in embroidered tulle. They were edged in goffered lace, and later, tulle.
Married women wore a very similar cap. It was, however, larger, and they wrapped a rolled silk kerchief, jedwabnica, around the edge of it.
As in Kujawy and other parts of Wielkopolska, the ties and back of this cap were a major focus of embroidery.
Married women wore a jacket called rurok. It was waist length, but had a heavily gathered peplum. The front was closed with hooks, but it had decorative buttons and buttonholes down the front.
The most traditional piece of outerwear is called pstrucha. It is a piece of home woven wool cloth with stripes, which is sewn like an apron and worn over the shoulders, or carried over the arms. Various kerchiefs were also worn over the head for warmth.
For everyday, village girls often went barefoot, or in clogs. For festive dress, they wore short, black lace up boots, szadronowe trzewiki, over commercially knitted stockings, or more recently, black leather shoes. A folded handkerchief was often carried in the hand as an accessory.
Men wore a white linen shirt, koszula, with a stand up collar. The everyday shirts were made of thick, strong, linen. Festive shirts were made of finer linen, had fuller sleeves, and white embroidery on the collars and cuffs.
Sometimes the shirts were made without collars, and a dickey or shirtfront of exceptionally fine linen was worn over the regular shirt.This had a standing collar of about 4 cm. tall. This closed in front with a button.
Three different types of neckwear were known. The first, worn by courting young men, is known as podszyjnik, or fartuszek. These are sewn from black cloth with linen linings, and are colorfully embroidered by girls who give them to boys in whom they are interested, and also to others. The embroidery often features a heart. Most young men had at least two. These were narrower than the collar, which stood up above it.
The second option was called welnianka. This was a ribbon of wool or cotton, of a plain dark red color, about 3 cm wide and a meter long. It was tied around the neck with the bow in front. This was worn by married men.
The most formal, and perhaps most typical, was the jedwabnica. This is the same type of silk kerchief which married women tied around their caps, and called by the same name. It was rolled up and then wrapped around the collar, which was often folded over and pinned in order to hold it. Then it was tied into a bow in front.
At the beginning of the 20th cent., white pants were worn by unmarried men, and black pants by married men. Earlier, leather and gray pants made of heavy industrial cloth were also worn for work. The shirt was always worn tucked into the pants.
Sometimes a vest, kamizelka, was worn over the shirt and under the jaka. This was a late development, and has since been abandoned in this area, although it is common further south.
Much more commonly, the jaka was worn directly on top of the shirt. The jaka had brass buttons in two rows on the front and was usually worn closed. It was usually red, although it could be dark red/amaranth in color, or green, or 'marynusowe', red with black ribbon designs.
The jaka was commonly ornamented with topstitching.
Over the jaka was worn a garment called kaftan, which resembles a knee-length overcoat, but has no sleeves. It was black with a red lining, and had 24 brass buttons and red stitched buttonholes, but was almost always worn open. The skirt was very full in back.
Married men, besides wearing black pants, wore another coat over the kaftan called katana. It differed from the kaftan only in having sleeves, being longer, and often fuller in the back. The kaftan reached the knees, the katana was at least boot top length, and sometimes ankle length.
Unmarried young men wore fancy boots called kropusy, these had many pleats along their length and had scalloped tops.
Married men wore simpler boots with only a couple of pleats and which were cut straight across the tops.
In winter, men often wore sheepskin coats, called kożuch. A young man who could afford one of these was considered by the girls to be desirable, because that meant that he was well off.
Hats. In Szamotuły men wore the rogatywka,
or a felt hat,
or, in summer a straw hat,
or in winter a sheepskin hat.
As an accessory, the men of Szamotuły would carry a bentwood cane, called lola, which it was expected that they made for themselves.
Sometimes these were elaborately carved.
And, as in other parts of Wielkopolska, the men would often carry a whip when dancing. Check out the dance videos below.
Thank you for reading, I hope that you have found this to be interesting and informative.
Just a few more images.
Here are a series of images from a wedding in Szamotuły
Here are people of Szamotuły taking part in a harvest festival. Some Green Kurpie dancers make an appearance in the second half. The blue and gold flags are those of the city of Szamotuly.
Here is a collection of videos showing actual village dancers from around Wielkopolska. The groups from Szamotuły show up at about the 6:40 mark. This group has one couple in the single people's costume and the other in the married.
Here is a video of a stage performance by a small local group. In my opinion, the skirts are too short, compare with the village performers in the first video. At the beginning and end you can see one of the musicians at left is wearing the married women's costume.
Another small group doing dances from this region. They do a reasonably good job, and you can see the red petticoats flashing, even though they put them over the linen ones, which is not what it says in my sources is correct.
This last video is of the Polish National Ensemble Masowsze. they do a reasonably good job with the costumes, but they are all alike. Notice the progression in choreography from the first video to the last.
Iwona Rosinska, 'Suknia Wydaje Ludzkie Obyczaje, Folk Dress from Wielkopolska', Poznan, 2005
Adam Glapa, 'APSL Stroj Szamotulski', Lublin, 1951
Elzbieta Piskorz-Branekowa, 'Polskie Stroje Ludowe, vol 1', Warsaw, 2013
Elzbieta Krolikowa, 'Polski Stroj Ludowy', Warsaw, 2000
Stanislaw Gadomski, 'Stroj Ludowe w Polsce', Warsaw,
Aleksander Blachowski et al, 'Haft Ludowy',Torun', 1979
M Ataman et al, 'Rekodzielo Ludowe i Artystyczne Cepelii', Warsaw, 1988