Saturday, September 22, 2018

Overview of the costumes of the Lemkos / Rusyns. part 4 Central Poprad region

Hello all,
Today I will talk about the folk costume of the middle Poprad region. The Poprad river is a bit of a geographical anomaly. It rises on the south slopes of the Tatra mountains, flows south and then east; at the city of Poprad it turns northeast, and near the village of Čirč turns to flow northwest through gorges in the mountains to empty into the Dunajec which flows into the Vistula. Thus this river basin is north of the continental divide. The rest of Slovakia lies south of the divide. The river forms the border between Poland and Slovakia in this area. Most of that border lies in the mountains. The local folk costume is worn on both sides of the river, by people who Identify as Rusyns as well as those who identify as Lemkos. I have not verified every single village in this area, but enough that I am confident as to the extent of this costume. The town of Muszyna on the Polish side is a spa town and traditionally inhabited mostly by Polish people; it is generally not considered to be part of this cultural region, although it is in the middle of it. Thus you can see that this costume was worn on the banks of the Poprad and its tributaries from Plavec to Mníšek.Of course the local population was ethnically cleansed from the Polish side after WWII.

This is the only costume besides the westernmost group which is found on both sides of the border and was worn both by those who called themselves Lemko and those who called themselves Rusyn. Roman Reinfuss, a Polish ethnic scholar used the term Wengrini, or Venhryny for this group, but he used it only to refer to the inhabitants of the villages of Dubne and Lelukhiw.

.The foundation garment is a sleeveless chemise with a bodice. The lower part is wider and gathered into the upper part which forms a bodice. It is not visible when fully dressed. A rather full petticoat is worn over this.
There is a short shirt, called oplichka or koshula, which is worn on the upper body. One sees a couple of different cuts, but if you examine the images, by far the most common is this one. The embroidery used is not that in this diagram which is from further east, but cross stitch or geometric designs in primary colors. There is smocking done on the upper part of the full short sleeve.

Here is an embroidery design from a koshula from the village of Čirč.

The skirt tends to be made of bright colored cloth of a single color. It is finely pleated, with the upper part smock gathered down to the break, in a manner similar to a Scottish kilt.

[note: This image is from the book 'Slovensky L'udovy Odev' by Viera Nosalova where it is mistakenly attributed to the village of Nacina Ves in Zemplin. This in no way resembles a Zemplin costume.]

The lower part of the skirt usually has topstitching and tucks which form horizontal lines perpendicular to the pleats

This is an image of a performance by the college group Hornad. Here we see both the Central Poprad costume and the Torysky costume. 

Here are a couple of examples from the Polish or Lemko side; from the village of Mylyk - Милик [Milik], formerly known as Mykova - Микова [Mikowa].

The apron is of a unique cut and construction. The waistband is wide and wraps just around the waist, with narrow ties that fasten a second time around. The apron itself is pleated, and the pleats are sewn down or smock gathered for the top several inches, matching the skirt. Contrasting smocking is done on this field, which is sometimes bordered by trim. The lower part of the apron has horizontal topstitching, sometimes forming designs. The result is that the top of the apron is rather narrow.

 A wide ribbon, either of a solid color or jacquard woven pattern is tied around the waist from the back, the bow and ends hanging in front.

These two images are from the village of Jastrabie in Šariš on the Slovak side. Note that the older women are wearing old style indigo batik printed skirts.

The bodice is short, with princess line seams in back, and buttons or hooks closed in front. It has a short peplum which does not reach the waist. The two central back pieces each end in a lappet which is sewn to the peplum. It is of colorful material, often a floral print, and has strong vertical ornamentation of braid, ribbon and trim on the front. There is also matching ornament on all the seams and edges which may include prairie points. It resembles the bodices of the Jakubany and Shambron regions. Look over all of the images to see the variety of ornament.

A couple of examples from the Slovak side.


A couple of examples from the Polish side.

From the village of Jastrabyk - Ястрябик [in Polish Jastrzębik].

From the village of Zlots’ke - Злоцьке [in Polish Złockie].

The bodice may be worn with or without a shawl. The shawl is wrapped around the back of the neck, crosses in front and then ties around the waist in back. It may be worn over or under the bodice, see the various images. 

A third option is to wear an abbreviated shawl which functions more as a collar. This pins in front and is usually embroidered and edged with crocheted lace. 

This woman is from Ujak -  Уяк [in Slovak Údol].

These girls are from the village of Chyrch - Чирч [in Slovak Čirč].

As you can see in the images, a multi-strand choker is often worn with this outfit, especially by girls and younger women. 

Single girls wear their hair in a single braid in the back, ornamented with a ribbon. 
Married women dress their hair in two braids wound around the back of the head and secured by a black ribbon which is visible on the forehead. For images of this, see my article on the Jakubany costume. The married woman's cap, chepets, is the same as the black and white one sometimes worn in Jakubany as well. It has ribbons hanging from the back, and an openwork flounce in front with a point on the forehead. It may be worn alone or have a kerchief tied over it. See the preceding image and others in the article. 

The outfit may be worn with moccasins, shoes, boots, or bare feet. 
The men's costume seems to vary somewhat, and in places may be reconstructed or borrowed from neighboring regions. 

I will close with images from the different villages in the which I have found.

Polish or Lemko side:

From the village of Mylyk - Milik:

This woman is wearing part of the traditional costume.

From the village of Leliukhiw - Лелюхів [in Polish Leluchów]:

 Here are some older women in a more modest, less fancifully sewn version of the costume. The bodice has sleeves and reaches the waist. The aprons have less gathering and fancy sewing on them.

  The village of Dubne - Дубне:

Slovak or Rusyn side

Village of Rus'ka Volia (on the Poprad) - Руська Воля [in Slovak Ruská Voľa nad Popradom]
Not to be confused with the village of Ruská Voľa in Zemplin. Both are Rusyn villages. 

Village of Čirč

 Note how the men's costume has shifted from something similar to that of Vel'ky Lipnik to something more similar to the Šariš Slovak costume.


Here is a video of the local village group Čirčanka performing a Kolomyjka.

A video about the village, with emphasis on the local performing group, showing songs and dances by the girls only. The narrator is speaking Slovak, but most of the interviewees are speaking Rusyn [with Slovak Subtitles].

A video about the men's singing group from the village, called Čirč. There are shots of the village, the local church, an interview with an older woman who can be seen in some of the images above and is an expert on the local costume, and their singing appearance on the Slovak version of 'Idol'. [In Slovak]

Kyjov - Київ

Not to be confused with the capitol of Ukraine or the village in Moravia. 

Jastriab - Ястряб in Šariš [in Slovak Šarišské Jastrabie]

Older girls from the village singing Christmas Carols.

A wedding video from this village.The dress is mostly completely western, but at the 1:48 mark the groom greets the bride's parents to receive their blessing, and then, according to our tradition they go to the church together. At the 2:00 mark you can see an older woman in the church in traditional costume, and at the 5:10 mark they do some traditional rituals at the reception, including putting the married woman's cap on the bride for the first time. The reception is overdubbed with zabava music.

For those interested in the music and dance. The Slovak group Lipovec doing a suite of dances from this village. They are not wearing the correct costume. [I assume they don't have it]. The video is dim, but it is a good performance with a minimum of choreography; slow chardash, verbunk, karichki, then fast chardash.

Orliv or Orlov - Орлiв or Орлов

These are mostly older photos. Note that the skirts used to be longer, and the aprons less elaborate. 

Plavech - Плавеч [In Slovak Plaveč]

The costume here is somewhat different, but falls into the same group. Note the jackets on the older women.

 This girl is wearing just the blouse and first petticoat.


Ujak - Уяк [In Slovak Údol]

A couple of girls singing in Udol.

A mixed group of men and women singing in the church at Udol.

Matysova or Matyshova - Матисова or Матишова [In Slovak Matysová]


Hranychne - Граничне [in Slovak Hraničné]

 Mnyshok - Мнишок  on the Poprad [in Slovak Mníšek nad Popradom]

This village is right on the edge of this region, and is also inhabited by Black Gorals.

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

Roman K.


Most of the images are from the various village websites.
I am indebted to Vasyl [Bill] Jula for some of the closeup images of original garments.
Some of the old Photographs on the Polish or Lemko side were taken by the great ethnographer Roman Reinfuss.