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~ costume traditionale romanesti, port popular romanesc ~
Coming from self-sufficient communities, Romanians made their own clothing: the main clothing pieces were handmade and sewn by women, and leather clothing/ footwear were made by local craftsmen (meșteri). Costumes could take between 1-2 years to make. The work was done mostly during winters at “sezatoare” since the days were short and the field work wasn’t as demanding. This was also an opportunity to socialize.
Traditional sewing differed from today’s western-style sewing which is concentrated on quick practical sewing. The fabrics were produced at home, not bought. The main fabrics used were homemade cotton, wool, leather, borangic (traditional Romanian silk), hemp, linen. Lace or velvet were also used. The materials kept cool during summer and warm during winter. The clothes were colored using vegetable dye made from plants.
Traditional Romanian clothing differs slightly from region to region but the basic pieces are the same:
- white shirt called ie
- waistcoat (pieptar, vestă)
- a white skirt called poala which is knee-length or ankle-length
- over the skirt the women put a catrincă or fotă – a piece resembling an apron but used for aesthetic reason with various colors and designs sewn on it. The fotă had either one piece worn in the front; two pieces worn in front and back; or all wrap-around skirt.
Women’s head-wear differed from region to region – they wore a scarf or a white veil made from borangic (natural romanian silk). Like most cultures around the world, young unmarried girls left their hair uncovered, unless it was a holiday/ special celebration or they visited church.
For men – white long pants called iţari or cioareci, made from cotton or wool (depending on the season), white shirt, waistcoat (pieptar, vestă).
The shoes differed from area to area but the most common were boots – ciubote; shoes called opinci (opanak in slavic), worn since ancient times in the Balkans (see Dacian/Thracian wear); and other types of shoes made from leather.
Both men and women wore a waist band called brâu, whose size and design varies. For women it also had an aesthetic purpose meant to underline the small feminine waist. In autumn, men and women wear a coat called suman, and during winter they wear a thick coat called cojoc.
Except for the white dress (poala) and the white pants (iţari) on men, the other clothing pieces almost always had intricate pattern (motifs) sewn on them.
Clothing was crucial to identify a person’s roots and show where they came from. The clothing carried various ancestral symbols (like the tree of life or sun worship) and motifs that showcased specific flowers, plants or other elements typical to a geographical region. For women, the dressing also showed their marital status (especially the headwear).
The art and craft of making traditional clothing and footwear is slowly fading, with the elderly having less and less young people to pass it on. Instead, a kitsch trend is developing, with fashion designers using the “traditional trend” for inspiration in poor imitations of folk clothing – while the genuine craft is dying away.