Friday, January 10, 2014

Laura's costume from Castrovillari, [Castruviddari], Calabria, Italy

Hello all,

I recently made a costume for my friend Laura B. who dances with us, and who is very involved with the fight against Epilepsy. This is Laura posing for us in her costume.
The costume which I chose to make is from Castrovillari in Calabria.
The town is in the province of Cosenza, in the north of Calabria, close to the  Basilicata border.

For more information about this town, see this article.

They have a very active cultural organization which performs songs and dances from their region, which is one reason I was able to get enough information to make the costume.
They call themselves I Castruviddari, in the local dialect.


The woman's costume comes in two variations, the plain costume which is seen on thewomen in the first row, and the Gala costume, which the women in the second row are wearing.

 The more common version is called 'A Pacchjana'.

The foundation garment is the chemise, camicia or 'a cammisa'. this is of white linen. It has a large opening for the head with a point in front, which results in decolletage. Laura wanted hers to be relatively modest. There is no fastening, the neckhole is large enough for the head to pass through.

Wide white lace is gathered and attached around the neck, the ribbon used to gather the lace is tied in a small bow in front. The edge is finished with seam binding. This lace was acquired by Laura in Italy.

 Calderini describes the chemise as having a yoke, with the body of the chemise gathered into the yoke. This is how I made it. Back view.

 Front view.

 The sleeves are very full, and are smocked at the top of the shoulder into the yoke
Calderini's drawing .clearly shows the seam falling on the upper arm, as is typical for traditional garments.

A gusset is of course placed under each sleeve, and the sleeve itself is smocked into a small cuff.

 I made the top part of the chemise of white linen which I acquired in Italy some years ago, and the bottom part, which does not show, from a cotton sheet. I also added a narrower strip of lace to the bottom edge, see above.

The main garment is called 'A Cammisotta'. This consists of a short bodice with straps over the shoulder with a very full skirt attached. This is traditionally of red wool. A wide green panel of velvet or satin is attached at the hem. This is faced with white or ecru, and the edge is finished with red seam binding.
Calderini describes the bodice as being hooked, but in her drawing she shows it being laced. Either would work. Laura wanted hers to be laced so as to be flexible in size.

The bodice is ornamented with narrow gold galloon and embroidery. I used a somewhat wider galloon than usual and decided to forgo the embroidery, as it seemed enough. This is the major way in which this costume may be personalized. The edges are finished with narrow green seam binding.
This girl on the left is wearing a costume from southern Sardinia.


A black satin apron, 'U Silanu', is worn with this costume. The size and shape varies somewhat. There is a tendency in many performing groups in many places to make traditional aprons smaller, for some strange reason, refer to the photo at the head of this article, and note the variation. The original apron was rectangular and rather long and full, as are worn with other costumes in the region. The rounded corners, use of less material and shortening are relatively recent innovations. I chose to make this one rather longer and fuller than most seen today. The edge is secured from raveling with a row of trim.

A shawl, 'U Maccaturu' is worn around the shoulders to cover the decolletage when in Church or for other more dignified locations. This is a green rectangle whose edges are bound in red.

 In practice, however, this is almost always folded lengthwise in thirds, and hung over the apron ties on the left hip. This habit has become so ingrained that a separate black knitted or crotched cape has become part of the costume for cooler weather.

The hair is generally worn in a bun at the nape of the neck which is decorated with a ribbon.
Today the hair is often worn short. Fine gold jewelry is traditionally worn with this costume.
The second form of this costume is the Gala costume, which involves putting on another layer, and which I will describe in another article.
A quick description of the men's costume, "U Cuzzu",  which takes its name from the hat..
"U Cuzzu" consists of:
"U Cavuzu cullu Funniddu", black wool knickers;
"I Vose", gaiters which also cover the shoes, and are buttoned to the knickers at the sides;
"A Cammisa", white embroidered linen shirt;
"U Gileccu", vest made of robust homespun cloth;
"A Sciarpa", colored wool sash;
"U Maccaturo", bandana which is also useful when working;
"A Giacchetta", a short heavy wool jacket;
"A Ggiobba", a sack which when full, makes a man look hunchbacked;
"U Caravisiddu" o "Cappa", A cape of black wool which may have a fur collar.
 White knitted stockings and simple moccasins 'cioce' may be worn with this costume, as in many parts of southern Italy. 


Thank you for reading, I hope that  you have found this interesting and useful. I will close with a few more images of this costume.

 Ciao a la Laura ed ai tutti quanti!

Here are a couple of videos showing songs and dances from this town:

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:

Emma Calderini, 'Il Costume Popolare in Italia', Milan, 1953