A long sleeveless coat (džube)

mid 1800s

British Museum

British Museum

A long sleeveless coat ('džube') of deep purple silk velvet with narrow bodice and full skirt, decorated all over with braiding and couched work in gold and silver-coloured metal-wrapped thread. A broad band of braiding outlines the neck, armholes, front opening and hem, and within that is a band of commercially-woven ribbon, also incorporating metal-wrapped thread. A large elaborate Ottoman-style floral pattern in couched work fills the front on each side, while the back is covered with alternate strips of braiding and ribbon, forming horizontal bands when the coat is spread out flat and diagonal bands as it hangs on the body. Lined throughout with red and yellow commercially-woven striped cotton.
Made as a marrige gift for town wear amongst the Christian Orthodox community in Prizren, Kosovo. Such coats were traditionally given by the groom to the bride, worn at the wedding and subsequently for festive occasions. An almost identical example is held by the Museum in Priština, documented as a wedding gift of around 1840, see exhibition leaflet ‘Town Dress in Kosovo and Metohija in IXI and First Half of XX Century’, Fresco Gallery, Belgrade September-October 2011, pl. 35, inv. No. 715. A number of other comparable pieces are held by the Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade, see J. Bjeladinović, ‘Serbian Ethnic Dress in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries’, Belgrade 2011, p. 144, no. 218: a coat with hanging sleeves from Prizren with the same striped pattern at the back, 19th century; ibid, p. 146, no. 224: sleeveless coat (džube) from Prizren, with very different all-over embroidery, 19th c; ibid, p. 146, no. 225: ditto, from Kosovo and Metohija, with different embroidery and buttons.

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  • Title: A long sleeveless coat (džube)
  • Date Created: mid 1800s
  • Location Created: Kosovo
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 111.5 centimetres
  • Provenance: Inherited by Ljiljana Grkinić from her mother, and brought to England by the family when they left the former Yugoslavia in the 1950s
  • Copyright: © The Trustees of The British Museum
  • British Museum link: 2012,8037.1