Saturday, November 26, 2016

Costume of Jamund-Jamno, Pomerania

Hello all, 
Today I feel like I am stepping into a minefield by talking about Pomerania.

The history of Pomerania is quite complicated. In the 7th cent, the area was settled by West Slavic tribes known under the general term of Pomeranians, Wends, or Polabians. The name is Slavic, being derived from Po More, ' along the sea', and is the origin of both the German and Polish terms for this area. Pommern, and Pomorze. It was incorporated into the Polish Piast Kingdom in the 9th-10th century. For much of its subsequent history, Pomerania, at least this part of it, was an independent Duchy. The first Duke in the 12th cent was Wartislaw I, and the last, in 1637, was Bogislaw XIV, both very Slavic names.

German settlers began coming to this area starting in the mid 13th cent. as part of a concerted effort called the Ostsiedlung. Many of the local Slavic people became assimilated and Germanized. This area became part of the Brandenburg province of Prussia after the demise of the Duchy in 1637, and remained controlled by Germany untill WW II. After that it was 'returned' to Poland. After the war there was a massive deportation of German-speaking people and a settlement of Polish people from other parts of Poland, and even ethnic Ukrainians who were native to eastern Poland. This is an oversimplification, ignoring invasions by the so called 'Holy Roman Empire', the Danes, the Swedes, the Kingdom of Poland, the Soviets, etc. with resultant episodes of depopulation. Read more if you like. 

The costume which I am talking about today was used in two villages on the coast of Pomerania, Jamund-Jamno and Labus-Łabusz. They lie north of the city of Köslin-Koszalin, and in fact, in recent years have been annexed by the city. The name Jamund-Jamno is possibly of Slavic origin, from jama, 'pit', and Labus seems to be of Baltic origin, meaning 'good'.

As an additional complication, it is recorded that Frisians from the Netherlands settled in this immediate area around the year 1700, adding to the ethnic mix. At this point I will set the thorny question of ethnic identity aside and concentrate on the costume. I am drawing on both German and Polish sources.  The native dress survived until about 1930 because these two villages were isolated by wetlands. This also meant that much of the costume was homemade. Enough material was saved in museums, etc. that the costume was remembered and revived, even though the inhabitants of Jamno were also resettled in 1945.

The women wore a chemise of white homewoven linen. It was made with the shoulder inset cut, fold down collar, and cuffs. The collar and cuffs were embroidered in white using chainstitch, holbein stitch, flat stitch and herringbone stitches, and/or edged in lace. The collar was fastened with a pin, usually in the shape of a heart. This shows obvious Scandinavian influence. 

Here is a sketch of some of the white embroidery done on the shirt.

There were two white linen underskirts [petticoats] worn. Sometimes a padded roll was placed around the hips to accentuate them. The skirt was made of bought woolen material, unmarried girls wore red or burgundy. The wedding skirt was black, and married women continued to wear black skirts. The skirt had a band about 5 cm wide on the hem of a contrasting color, red, green or blue.

Girls and young women wore a white homewoven linen apron. It was up to 7 cm shorter than the skirt, and usually had three tucks towards the bottom. It might also be hemstitched, or with lace edging. Dark blue or black aprons were also worn, especially by older women for festive occasions. The bridal outfit includes a white apron.

The bodice was made of home woven striped woolen material, the main color being red or rust-red. The stripes ran vertically on the front and diagonally on the back, the stripes meeting in a V shape. It reached only to the waist, and was laced up the front.

A plastron, or stomacher was worn under the laces in front. It was generally of a solid color and ornamented with horizontal ribbons and trim. A belt may secure the bottom of the bodice. It may be of the same material as the bodice as above, in which case the stripes run crosswise, or it may be leather or other material. 

A short black jacket may also be worn. This typically is part of the bridal costume as well. It reaches to the waist and has a short peplum.

Stockings were black, blue or reddish brown, according to some sources, or white or black, according to others.

Black leather shoes were worn.

Unmarried girls wore white linen crowns, which look similar to those worn in the Baltic countries. They were worn so that they were even on top. As you can see, they were ornamented with white embroidery, hemstitching and/or lace.

Here is the design which is embroidered on the central crown.


They could also be worn two at a time.

For the bridal costume, a crown was worn on top of this, with a tall structure of artificial flowers on top. This is similar to bridal crowns worn in many places. 

Married women wore a white linen cap which covered the hair. It showed in front over the forehead. On top of this was worn a bonnet of black material. The face opening was trimmed with fur, and the back had two points, like the corners of a pillow. 

This woman decided to skip the linen cap under the bonnet.

The men wore a white linen shirt, also in the shoulder inset cut, and white linen pants tucked into boots, Knickers with knee stockings and shoes were also known at an earlier date. The men's vest was made of a similar home woven striped wool. As with the women's bodice, the stripes ran vertically in front and diagonally in back. 

A matching four-cornered cap is worn, with colored binding around the edge and loops on top.

A neck kerchief is worn around the neck and tied, again as in Scandinavia. It may be tucked in or left to hang freely. 

A long black coat is worn for cooler weather and more formal occasions.

A tall top hat may be worn for formal occasions as well. Here is a painting of part of the Wedding Rituals. 

In the center stand the bride and groom, The bride is in a crown, short cape, linen apron and embroidered mittens, The groom is in a frock coat, silk neck scarf and three-cornered hat with a wedding cockade. They are visiting one of the sets of parents, to ask for their blessing. The father is seated, wearing the striped wool cap, leather knickers and dark blue frock coat. The mother is wearing the short jacket, the linen cap and bonnet over it, and a dark blue apron. Behind the mother are a younger son and daughter. The son is wearing a fur cap and the striped vest. Behind the young couple stands the figure known as the 'Hochzeitsbitter' in German, or 'Braška' in Wendish. He invites the guests to the wedding, leads the processions to the parents' houses and then to the Church, acts as Master of Ceremonies at the reception, and is in charge of organization. He is wearing a decorated top hat, frock coat, silk neck scarf, and holds a staff of office.

This is a sketch of embroidery from a handkerchief such as the bride is holding in the above painting. It was done in red.

Here are some possible cuts from a German source. The cuts for the shirts are not traditional, but have been modified to conform to the modern 'set in sleeve' cut. These do not seem to be actually taken from Museum pieces. 

Here are some of the other images which I have found of this costume.

These two show the bridal costume.

Here are some accessories shown in detail.

In this image, only two of the women are wearing this costume.

These are from a performing group in Poland which did not quite get the costume right.

These people are doing a better job.

These are from the performing group 'Ihna' out of Erlangen in Germany. The costume is rather well done except for the peaked sleeve caps on the women. They also decided to increase the number of tucks on the apron.


Here is a Pomeranian diaspora dance group wearing this costume and doing the Pomeranian Krakowiak.

Thank you for reading, I hope that you have found this to be interesting and informative.

Roman K.


Source Material:
Elzbieta Piskorz-Branekova, 'Polskie Stroje Ludowe, Tom II', Warsaw, 2007
Hildegard Haenel et al, 'Pommersche Volkstrachten', Husum, 1995

Friday, November 25, 2016

Costume of the 'White' Kurpie, Mazowsze, Poland

Hello all,
Today I will continue to talk about the White Kurpie. Check my last two articles for background information.

The women wear a one piece bodice and skirt, which they call 'kitel', which seems to be borrowed from German. The Eastern group used a simpler cut, as in fact, the entire costume was simpler. The partial shapes on top belong to a different garment.

The group in the west used a slightly fancier cut.

As with many costumes in Mazowsze, these were made of striped material, each individual garment having somewhat different setts. Until the turn of the 20th cent, the main color was red. 

During the 20th cent, the base color shifted to green. The hem of the skirt had some decorative ribbons sewn on. As the 20th century progressed, these became more numerous. Most popular were metallic silver galloons, and later, they were supplemented by rows of bugle beads sewn on at a diagonal. Early on, colored beads were used, in blocks along the trim, later on, the beads became all silver, or just transparent. The same sort of ornament was used on the aprons. They also used seed beads, sequins, and crocheted edging.

  Here is a red kitel. As it is always worn with an apron, the front was made of cheaper cloth. The bulk of the fullness, of course, is in the back.

Here is a green kitel, which is more common today. Again, the front is made of a cheaper cloth because it is always hidden by the apron.

Here you can see the bugle beads.

Older women wear less fancy glittery trim, of course. Sometimes the garment is made in plaid.

The apron is made to harmonize with the skirt-bodice, in a similar material. If striped, the stripes generally run horizontally on the apron. Galloon, ribbon and beadwork also ornament the edges of the apron.


Beads of coral or amber are worn with the outfit. 

Most of the time a kerchief is worn on the head, tied either at the nape of the neck over the third corner, or at the back of the head, as in the 'Green' Kurpie, forming a sort of cap. 

For more formal occasions, a tulle cap may be worn. These are embroidered in geometric designs and come in two kinds. 

The first kind, which seems to be older, is called Cypek z kacurem. It consists of a cap made of light cotton, linen or tulle, with a large tulle flounce at the bottom. The hair was worn up with this, and the cap covered the hair. a kerchief was tied over the top part, leaving the embroidered tulle bottom visible.

The second, newer type is called Czepek Szlachecki. It consists of a rhomboid shaped piece which goes on top of the head, and two rather long and wide ends which tie under the chin. All of this cap is geometrically embroidered, and the top part generally has ruched tulle around the edge. 

 Here are the cuts of both types of caps.

It seems that here, as in other parts of Mazowsze to the southwest, a second apron was often worn as a cape. 

Large woolen shawls could also be worn for warmth and elegance.

Also a short jacket, kaftan, was worn by older women and in cooler weather. These are ornamented in much the same way as the bodice and skirt, the ornamental trim and galloons forming half circles on the front and on the tail. These are made of bought cloth in a single color.

This one piece for some reason was made in white, which is extremely unusual.

Long overcoats would be worn in winter.

For working in the forest, men would wear strong plain linen shirts and pants with a light gray wool overcoat.

The shirt had a fold-down collar and the neck is fastened by a red or wine-colored ribbon drawn through two buttonholes on the collar. Dress shirts had simple white embroidery on the collar, or perhaps a length of rickrack embedded in the seam to make a toothed edge.

Pants in the 20th century were gray, to match the sukman. This was achieved with white warp and black weft, or a mix of black and white threads in the weft. Summer  pants were linen, pants in cooler weather were often a blend of linen, cotton, and wool. The waistband fastened on the left side, and they often had a leather or hempen drawstring as well.

Older people who were interviewed early in the 20th cent said that previously the pants were striped, as is the case in other parts of Mazowsze. The main color was a yellow, 'oryjon', with other stripes in white, red and black, about a half finger wide. You will see contemporary performing groups that have revived this. 

Here is a video of a group performing dances from this region on stage. Note the striped pants.
 A vest was worn, which was made in three pieces, left, right, and back. The back is made of plain strong linen, with a belt to help it fit, the front was made of a dark cloth with lapels. The bottom was cut straight across, [almost never is a folk vest made with points on the bottom, or rounded corners either] Usually a single row of buttons fastens the front.  I do not think that the boys above got it right, but I have no old images without the sukman. Men who travelled delivering lumber would sometimes wear velvet vests with a double row of white buttons which they brought back from Prussia. Here is another modern interpretation. Note that they have decided to put a bit of the women's style of  embroidery on the shirts.

The sukman or ciamara is an overcoat made of homewoven wool. It is always gray and sewn by professional tailors. There are two types; 'z chlapkami' with lapels, as seen here;

 This is what you will most commonly see. The other type is 'z potrzebami', which translates to 'with needfuls', and I'm not sure what they mean. Perhaps they are referring to the frogs on the front. Here is that cut. It somewhat resembles that of Opoczno.

 Originally, the pants would be tucked into footcloths wrapped around the feet and lower legs, which were then held in place by laces attached to moccasins, kurpi. These were worn by both sexes, and later replaced by boots, especially for festive occasions, first by women, and later by men. The women often use the typical Polish lace up boots. Clogs were also worn, especially for work on the farms and in muddy weather.

 Longer overcoats were also worn by the women, at need.

 The men would wear straw hats in summer, lambskin caps in winter, and for more festive occasions the rogatywka, which later was mostly replaced by the magierka, the peaked cap with a bill.

Just a few more images of this form of dress.






Here is a stage performance of White Kurpie songs and dances done by the University group 'Slowianki' 

Here is a local village group singing White Kurpie songs. 

Here are some local musicians playing traditional music of the region 

Thank you for reading. I hope that you have found this to be interesting and informative. 

Roman K.

Source Material:

Maria Zywirska, 'Stroj Kurpiowski Puszczy Bialej' Poznan', 1952
Seweryn Udziela, 'Hafty Kurpiowskie', Krakow, 1936
Barbara Bazielich, 'Stroj Ludowy w Polsce, Opisy i Wykroje', Warsaw, 1997
Stanislaw Gadomski, 'Stroj Ludowe w Polsce', Warsaw, 1997
Kazimierz Pietkiewicz, 'Haft i Zdobienie Stroju Ludowego', Warsaw, 1955
Elzbieta Krolikowska, 'Polski Stroj Ludowy', Warsaw, 2000
Aleksander Jackowski, 'Sztuka Ludu Polskiego', Warsaw, 1967
Ewa Frys-Pietraszkowa, 'Folk Art in Poland', Warsaw, 1988
Aleksander Blachowski, 'Hafty Polskie Szycie', Lublin, 2004
Barbara Zagorna-Tezycka et al, 'Haft Ludowy', Torun', 1979