Sunday, December 4, 2011

Gradska Nošnja, Town Costume of Split and the central Dalmatian Coast, Croatia

Hello all,
Today i am going to continue my last article by talking about 'Gradska Nošnja', that is, the 'Town Costume', of central Dalmatia in general, and Split in particular. Again i am focusing on Split because I have more information from there. You can see one version of the formal Town Costume from Split above. This costume is used by the Croatian National Folk Ensemble Lado for a suite of dances from that city. This resulted in the costume being widely known and copied. The 'Town Costume' of the Dalmatian Coast is rooted in the indigenous clothing tradition of the area, but also owes a great deal to foreign influences, especially from Italy and Spain. It relies on imported and expensive commercially made fabric, as well as lace, ribbons, beadwork, elaborate jewelry, etc. This was never worn day-to-day, but was put on for special occasions. Split was not the only city to develop such a 'Town Costume'. Similar but distinct outfits were also worn in Novigrad,

in Zadar,

  in Kaštela,

 in Trogir,

on Šolta

on Brač

in Omiš

in Potomje,

in Orebić,

As well as other places. To return to Split, here are a couple more views of the outfit, front and back.

 For the formal costume, the chemise is not worn, although the petticoat is, see my previous posting on the everyday costume. The pleated skirt of fine material, Brnica may be worn, as you saw in the previous posting, but another option, as you see here, is a gathered and flared skirt of black silk damask. Plain black satin is often used today.

One variation of this costume includes the bodice, korpet, as in the everyday costume, but made of brocade, and with larger and more numerous silver buttons. The cut of the korpet may be found in my previous posting.

Over the korpet is worn a black silk jacket called kurtina, which ties around the waist.

The cuffs of the kurtina are decorated in various ways with black lace, braid, ribbon and/or beadwork.

In place of the bodice, korpet , a plastron with attached collar, the peturin may be worn.

In this case, the jacket has a piece which closes all the way in front to hold it in place.

 The formal apron is not pleated, but is sewn of three flared pieces from colored satin, silk or brocade which may be of various colors.

 These are always made of very ornate materials, and then trimmed with lace, ribbons, trim, fringe, bows, rosettes, ruched ribbon, and other furbelows, so that no two are alike. Sometimes the bottom hem makes a smooth curve, as above, but sometimes the side pieces are made longer than the center one, to make an interesting line, like these. See also the image at the head of this article.

A large bow, called Fjok, is tied so that it hangs down in back. This always matches the apron, and is meant to look like the apron ties in back. This exact garment is also found in Spain. The bottom edge may have beadwork or embroidery, if the material is a solid color. It may have fringe, it may end in a straight line or a point.

The fjok should hang almost to the hem of the skirt.

A white silk triangular scarf with gold embroidery and fringe, the zlatni sudar, may be worn over the shoulders, as in the everyday costume.

More commonly, however, a shaped fichu, called Berta, is worn. This may also be of white satin with gold embroidery and lace.

Or it may be made to match the apron and fjok, with similar trim and furbelows. The exact outline, especially in back, varies.

The outfit, is of course incomplete without the appropriate accessories. Rich filigree jewelry, rings, brooches, necklaces, earrings and hairpins.

As well as a folding fan, the ventula.

Thank you for reading. I hope you have found this interesting and perhaps inspiring.

Here is the Croatian National Ensemble, Lado, performing a suite of very elegant dances from Split in this costume. The women's aprons, while of various colors all have the same shape.

Here is another group performing another version of this suite. This group has a wider range of both ages and costume variations.

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:
Ilda Vidovic-Begonja, 'Narodna Nošnja Splita', Zagreb, 1988
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. This is the most AMAZING blog. I found it by accident. Who are you?

  2. Hello Fiber Arts.
    Im not sure i understand what you are asking.
    I got interested in Folk Music, dance and costume when i joined a performing group in college in 1976. I have continued with this interest since then, I learned embroidery from my grandmother, who was very good at it. I have collected a large library on the subject, and I wish to talk about it. I would love to get a position as choreographer or costumer to a folk dance or vocal group, but this has not yet happened. I have experience with several amateur groups, however.
    What else would you like to know?

  3. You have such an amazing collection of pictures and knowledge. I danced with a Lithuanian folk dance troupe in Seattle for 13 years (my kids do now) and did some costumes for them, and I studied Croatian embroidery a bit in college. I do some costuming for a Croatian folk dance troupe here in Seattle, but I have never seen these photos and will spend many hours studying them. I wondered if you had a degree in this or if it was just a dedicated hobby.

  4. Hello Fidalgo
    I do not believe that any place offers a degree in this area. I have my knowledge from personal study over the years and from my library.
    I would very much like to see what sources you have, and the embroidery which you have made.
    I would like to have more close up images of Croatian and other embroidery, especially of the Posavina region. I have found no closeups of the embroidery of this region. You can write me directly at the email at the end of each of my postings. I am also available to do research on any particular region. I also love folk dance and teach that as well.

  5. Wow! I really love your blog!

    Do you also have information about the costume of Šibenik?
    I'm doing research, for a school project, about traditional clothing from this area, but Šibenik in specific. I'm searching for a couple of weeks now but I can't find anything concrete about the clothes itself. Can you maybe help me? :)


    1. Look at my other article
      I was shocked that I had omitted Sibenik, but I added it.

  6. Hi! Where is possible buy a woman folk dress ? :) I am from Hungary, from Szentendre, Dalmatian origin. Thanks :)