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The weaving workshop

One of the most important elements when referring to a people’s culture is its art. Popular creations – done either by popular craftsmen, specialized in their craft, or by the ordinary men, who created various items out of pure pleasure or out of necessity –, represent a veritable heritage that we receive from our ancestors. For they used art not only to create grand, spectacular things, but also to embellish even the most insignificant household items. Slovaks’ houses were always decorated with handmade objects; the construction elements – gates, frontons, galleries, porticos, pillars, window lintels, doors, beams, were sculpted by the local sculptors and carpenters. The indoor decorations – from plates, pillows, shelves, beds, to the cloths on the wall and linen, could become, through the touch of a skilled hand, veritable art pieces. This is because, although certain motifs were recurrent, each craftsman had their own freedom of expression, conferring their piece originality and a special touch.

Among all the elements that were passed from generation to generation, the best kept ones were those related to woven fabrics. Since there was a loom in almost every home, it goes without saying that the women in the community knew the craft of weaving. Every girl needed a dowry to get married. Because of this, every girl was included from a young age in the process of preparing the dowry. They would weave pieces of clothing, rugs, dish towels, wall coverings, towels, tablecloths, bed sheets. The activity was carried out by women during the cold season, when agricultural work didn’t require their presence. In the production of clothes and woven fabrics, they used wool, linen, and hemp, and therefore the lands cultivated with linen and hemp were customary in any rural settlement, due to their utility in domestic industry.

The Slovak traditional costumes were of a special beauty. Since the Slovaks colonized on the Plopiș Mountains plateau had arrived here from various regions of Slovakia, there’s been a blending in the specificity of folk costumes. Moreover, we must not forget about the fact that in the new localities where they settled, they lived in communion with Romanians and Hungarians, which also led to mutual influences with regards to traditional clothing.

At the end of the 18th century, the basic fabric used in clothing was produced from local resources, the main pieces of clothing being manufactured from hemp cloth or from felt, which was made from homespun white woolen.

Several pieces of clothing typical to men of those times are: the guba made of a woven wool fabric, with long hair on its surface. The guba had a simple straight cut, with a transverse seam on the chest, falling beneath the waist, and sometimes down to the knees. It was worn over the shoulders; at times, during winter season, men wore a șubă, a long fur coat; the loose, tunic-shaped shirt, with no collar and tied up in the front with a lace or buttoned up; over the shirt one would wear, a vest (lajblík), especially for celebrations; the loose traditional trousers, falling down almost to the ankles; a narrow apron, manufactured of homemade cloth; in their waistband they would wear a wide leather belt (širokí remeň) encrusted with spikes and

decorated with leather appliques, characteristic to forest workers; the kabanica, an article of clothing made of white rough homespun, worn during chilly weather; on their feet they wore opanaks at work and black boots during celebrations.

Women wore a shirt (spodnička), sometimes laced (štikeliš), then white petticoats with small and dense creases (kiňteš) and lace at the bottom. A skirt (sukňa) of differrent colors and floral, geometrical motifs; over the skirt they would tie their apron (zástera or zoponka), which could also have a lining/lace, or not. In modern times, during celebrations, over the shirt and petticoat one would wear a sleeveless dress sewed at the waist, manufactured from died cloth; on colder weather they wore a sort of thick blanket with fringes, folded in the shape of a triangle, and wrapped around the shoulders. Other times, they had a coat with long sleeves, made of loom woven wool (vlna); younger and wealthier girls wore fake fur, called barančina. The headscarf (šatka) was worn by married women. On their feet they wore opanaks, and in winter black leather boots.

As a result of rapid urbanization, the wearing of the traditional costume has been abandoned. Nowadays, on special occasions, youngsters more often wear green hats, with a slightly narrower brim, and men wear black hats, with a wider brim. They appear dressed in shirts made of woven hemp cloth, or made of finer cloth with an undefined cotton warp (miserove platno) or a thin and soft cloth warp. Sometimes one could find shirts with a gusset at the shoulders, a tall and flipped collar, and cuffs on the sleeves. The collar is buttoned up with three colored buttons, positioned in a triangular shape. Instead of the loose traditional trousers, after World War I, men wore tighter trousers (priče - nohavice pricove), manufactured from black or green cloth, the white trousers further being made of rough homespun woolen fabric (sucno).

Women wore their hair pulled back, coiled in a bun in the shape of a snail named kont. Girls’ hair was combed with no parting towards the back, tight above the nape of their neck and braided in one or two ponytails, which were then tied in a bun named čupka. Older girls used to put colored ribbons (mašličky) and the end of the ponytail, ribbons that hanged below the hips. On their head they wore a calico kerchief (šatka), always white with geometrical motifs or with tiny flowers imprinted on it, black or blue. Colored kerchiefs appeared later too. Married women tied their hair in a loop (kont), and then placed a white, laced (faldičky) bonnet (čepec) on their head, emphasizing the loop’s shape through the cut. Over the bonnet they would place the starched kerchief, tied at the front, getting the typical shape of Slovak women’s adornment. The kerchief was starched with flour or with potato water. The extremities were flared. They wear a petticoat and shirt. Over the shirt they can have a black atlas vest (lajbik) adorned with gimps. The most original article of clothing in the female costume was the shirt (oplecko). It was the only piece embroidered by hand, all the other pieces of clothing only being ornamented with gimps, ribbons, laces. The shirt was manufactured from thin white cloth (patelát) or from very fine white cloth (silónové). The lining (fodrička) is beautifully embroidered on the edges. It is adorned with little crosses (krížiky), meander lines, geometric motifs (reťazka). The little lining is tied with a very fine seam based on knotted points, a hem (obrubek) alternating at 4-5 cm between red, yellow, green, and blue. Although apparently very (oplecko), and over the shirt they would wear a large headscarf with fringes (haraska) rolled up and tied at the back, or a jersey (vizitka) with buttons from top to bottom, which were flared in the length of one palm from the waist down; the simple white petticoat with no creases simple, the seam, and the embroidery on a single sleeve, respectively, both require two days of hard work. The skirt (sukňa) can be made of Holland-like cotton fabric, calico, etc. Generally, the background is white, pink or light blue and has tiny floral motifs imprinted on it. It is worth mentioning that Slovak women display a preference for pastels, in this way the traditional costume giving off a pleasant chromatic effect. Under the skirt they would wear white, loose petticoats with small and dense creases, made of a thin cloth (patelatovy spodník - kiňteš), and underneath a set of petticoats tailored more tightly from hemp cloth (konopný spodník). Over the skirt they would wrap an apron (zástera or zoponka fertuch). Another clothing article is the vizitka. Vizitka is manufactured from damask, atlas, libertine, calico, etc., being lined with cloth or flannel.

On their feet, in winter, women would wear opanaks tied with leather lacings (nadkonce) until above the center of the calf, over the cloth wraps (onucki). Later, opanaks were replaced by boots, worn with white socks.

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