Monday, October 24, 2011

Woman's Costume of South Dubrovnik County, Konavlje, Čilipi, Dalmatia, Croatia

Hello all,

Today I will talk about the southernmost costume of Croatia. This is worn on the Dalmatian coast in Dubrovnik-Neretva county, from the city of Dubrovnik south to the Montenegrin border, especially in the municipality of Konavlje [Konavle], and the village of Čilipi. This costume is still worn for holidays and if you go there, you will be able to see the local folk dance group perform. I tried to go when i was in Dubrovnik, but the travel agent failed to give me a receipt, so i was unable to get on the bus the next day. Dubrovnik is a very beautiful city, by the way, so go see it if you get a chance.

For more information on this region and its history, see this article.
The costume is a variant of the Dinaric costume type, adapted to life on the coast with the loss of the sadak/zubun. I have found no trace of such a garment worn by the women of this area.
The costume consists of an embroidered chemise, with a shift and petticoat worn underneath, which is most unusual and shows Adriatic influence, an apron, two sashes, a highly decorated vest, a wool dress in the winter, and either a small red cap or a large linen winged headdress for the women. The man's costume is the typical Dinaric/Balkan one, wide pants, vest over jacket over vest, red fez type hat and gaiters over long socks. The man's costume as currently worn is much simplified. Here are some images from various sources, depicting various eras.

The first garment put on is a type of shift, which is quite unusual, and represents a doubling of the chemise, perhaps as a result of western influence, as the cut of this undergarment seems to be that of western Europe. This garment is called privlačak, it is made of white linen and here is the cut.

Over this is put the petticoat, which is also made of white linen and is called skutici. Here is that cut.

Over this, finally is put the chemise, the košulja. This is made fuller on the bottom, being gathered in the back. This is also made of white linen, as normal.

There are narrow embroidered strips sewed onto the sleeve ends. The narrow standing collar is similarly embroidered, as are two wider pieces on either side of the front opening. This is done in darning stitch or counted satin stitch in slightly modified darning stitch designs. The embroidery is basically done in red and black with some addition of yellow, blue and green as accents. Yellow braid is sewn around the embroidery panels on the front, a yellow tassel sewn onto the back of each cuff, and three yellow tassels sewn onto the lower part of the front. All of these are embroidered seperatly and then sewn onto the chemise.

A white linen apron is worn over the košulja. This is stored folded in four lengthwise, and the folds show when it is worn. There is a woven panel on the bottom edge, and braid sewn around the edges which match the weaving in the panel.

Nowadays sometimes the traditional apron is replaced by one in cotton with a small blue print, as in the woman above standing in front of the chair or as in this postcard.

A wide, very stiff sash is wrapped around the waist over the apron and  chemise. This is so stiff that it cannot be tied or tucked in. A narrow silk ribbon is therefore tied over the sash to hold it in place. This is also done in the Horodenka region of Ukraine. This gives the costume a distinctive silhouette.

A short vest is worn over this, the jačerma. Previously it was decorated with applique of gold or yellow cording. Today the cording or trim is more likely to be black.

You will notice some of the women in the images dressed in black. Similar to the Vrlika costume, this one also features a winter garment in wool which has a cut similar to that of the chemise. This garment in this region is called modrina.

This garment is sewn of black wool, and is worn over the chemise, but under the apron, sashes and vest. There is red applique on the front openings and around the sleeve ends, trimmed with braid, topstitching and buttonhole stitch around the edges. The narrow collar is often red or yellow.

The costume is completed for both men and women with long white knitted stockings and red slipper-shoes.

The women dress their hair in two braids which are then wound up onto the back of the head.

Unmarried girls wear a short flat red cap with gold braid appliqued around the edges.

A white kerchief was sometimes worn over this, as you can see in the very first image at the beginning of this posting. Sometimes this was pleated very finely, as shown here.

Married women stopped wearing the cap after WWI. Instead they wear a small starched kerchief which you may have noticed in some of the images above.

On top of this may be pinned another white kerchief of commercial fabric, which is starched and then folded to make a winged headdress, which also makes a good sunshade. 

Thank you for reading. I hope that you have found this interesting and perhaps inspiring. The embroidery used on this costume is quite beautiful, as is the Balkan braid couching.

I will continue with the men's costume and more examples of the embroidery in future postings.

Here is a link to a website from Čilipi with many photos of this costume.
Here is a video of one of the dances of this region, Potkolo.

Here is a video put out by the local tourist bureau, which shows the costume and some close ups of the embroidery. The song is not what the dance is being done to.

Here are some more videos of dances done in this area. The quality of these videos is not as good.

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:
Katica Benc-Boškovic, 'Narodna Nošnja Konavala', Zagreb, 1986
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

1 comment:

  1. Do you, by any chance, have an embroidery scheme for Konavle's shirt? I have been trying to find something that explains the embroidery technique or at least what it is done as, the stitch etc., and was unable to. so I decided to just look for a scheme or a close-up which will make it easier to know how to make the shirt... and also nothing...