Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Costume of Gorenjska, Slovenia

Hello all,

Today I am one more step closer to my goal of covering all of the nations of Europe.
I will talk about the costume of the region of Gorenjska in Slovenia. In English, this region is sometimes called Upper Carniola. Slovenia is the northernmost part of the former Yugoslavia. The capitol is Ljubljana, and this is their flag.

The Slovenian language has around 50 dialects, spoken throughout Slovenia, and in neighboring parts of Italy, Austria, and Hungary. On the southern border, the Slovenian language intergrades with the Kaj dialects of Croatia. In fact, the Kaj dialects are closer to Slovene than they are to the Shto dialect of Beograd. The Slovenes calle their nation Slovensko, which is confusing, because the Slovaks also call their nation Slovensko. Be careful of this, I have seen Slovaks online identified as Slovenian because of this. 

I will be talking about the costume of Gorenjska, which is one of the traditional regions of Slovenia. This is the costume which is most often seen, and is often considered to be the national costume.

 The Gorenjska costume falls solidly into the group of Alpine costumes, many of which are strongly celebrated still today. Alpine communities in France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and Austria hold onto their costumes with the tenacity of mountain people everywhere. Gorenjska simply means 'the highlands'.

 This costume has the standard foundation garments of western Europe, bloomers, petticoats, and blouse/chemise.

 There are various possible cuts for the petticoat, and usually more than one is worn, first the narrowest, and then the fuller ones. Here are two of the possible cuts. They are often ornamented with tucks and lace. The tucks help to shape the skirt.

 The blouse, bluza, is white linen, and the cut includes shoulder yokes set into the sides of the body piece, which is typically slavic. This is more tailored than the ones found in Eastern Europe, however.

The collar and cuffs may be a narrow band, possibly of a  colored cloth. Or, the collar may have gathered lace attached, and the cuffs may be wider, with white embroidery and cutwork.

There is a full skirt, sewn onto a bodice, which is unusual for Slavic costumes, one example of the Alpine influence. Some of the older known pieces have short bodices, influenced by the Empire period; subsequently they have returned to the longer form at the natural waist. The neckline varies. Often ribbon is sewn onto both the skirt and the bodice. Note the very practical pocket sewn into the skirt.

This garment is often sewn of heavy silk, or other material with a sheen, of various colors, usually solid.

For everyday, or less festive wear, it may be made of calico. In some communities, such as Rateče, the skirt has become pleated, but mostly it is just gathered into the bodice.

The everyday or less festive apron is of white linen or cotton print, as we see here. The festive apron is of brocade, damask or silk in various colors, very often black. It is more or less full, depending on the material, brocade aprons being less full than the others, so as to show off the design, and because it is expensive. Often there is a wide band of black lace sewn around the edges.

For festive occasions, a shawl is worn around the shoulders, this may be cotton print, but more commonly is of silk, with designs woven in. Some are very beautiful.

As you can see in a couple of the photos above, sometimes an ornamental ribbon is tied around the waist and tied in a bow behind. 
One distinctive feature of the festive costume is a metal belt, called sklepanec or kositar. This was made in the form of a chain with large ornamental links in various shapes. It often had a bow of large ribbon tied to it, and was worn at an angle on the hips. 

You will notice a U shaped link at the top of the above image. This is specifically designed as a place to tie the ribbon.

As is so often the case, for cooler weather, for church, or for women 'of a certain age', a jacket may be worn with this costume.

For everyday or less festive occasions, kerchiefs were worn on the head.

For dress occasions, a unique headpiece is worn, the Tjehl. This comes in two forms, small,

and large.

The large headdess is reserved for married women, but as it is harder to make, it is seen less often these days, even on older women.
Both are based on a rectangle of black velvet which is richly embroidered with gold thread and spangles.

For the small version, zavijačka, a triangle of linen is folded over, [note the two little tucks on the sides], the folded edge is embroidered in white on white, the black rectangle is attached just behind the embroidered zone, and the back is gathered in the middle. This is then tied on rather like a kerchief. Here is a schematic, with an example of the white embroidery for the edge. This is sometimes replaced by lace today.

I have found no instuctions as to how to make the large version, the avba, but it is obvious that there is much more material in it, and it is gathered in a particular manner. Sometimes it seems to be mounted on a form to hold its shape, but this is a modern simplification. There is a large ribbon bow on the back.

In some regions, a large white starched kerchief is worn instead. This is embroidered in white on white, and tied in such a way that there is a standing knot on top of the head.

Often a handkerchief trimmed in lace is tucked into the waistband.

Generally black shoes are worn with white stockings knitted with a texture.

Just a few more images of this costume.

 Thank you for reading. I hope that you have found this interesting.

A slide show from a children's group in Toronto

The Croatian National Ensemble performing wedding dances from this region.

A dance concert in Ljubljana, showing dances from this region. Both the music and the dances are typically Alpine. This group is wearing costumes from the area of Rateče, which is distinct in some details.

Here is a website, in Slovenian, that has many images of individual costume pieces. These mostly seem to be of recent make, and are sometimes simplified.I beleive that you can order costume pieces made at this website.

There are many facebook pages devoted to Folk Costume these days.
They are becoming a valuable resource.

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:
Marija Makarovic, 'Narodna Nosnja Gorenjsko - Ratece', Zagreb, 1988
Nikola Pantelic, 'Traditional Arts and Crafts in Yugoslavia', Belgrade, 1984
Leposava Zunic-Bas, "Yugoslavia - Ten Voyages', Beograd
Vladimir Salopek, 'Folk Costumes and Dances of Yugoslavia', Zagreb,   1989