Bulgarian costume, sleeveless coat (klashnik) detail


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

A woman's sleeveless coat, a 'klashnik'; part of festive attire. Made of a cream-coloured twill woven wool fabric, heavily fulled. Flared in shape, open at the front and when worn comes just above the knee. The embroidery is concentrated around the waistline. Panels of solid embroidery are worked in red floss silk predominantly. Small foliage motifs are embroidered in areas enclosed by solid embroidery and on its perimeter. The right front section has a vertical opening. Between it and the side seam is a rectangular panel formed of an embroidered circle at the centre with six rays, made up of two lines of red dentate applied wool. Six small motifs, shaped like water ewers (four red and two green) are embroidered in the spaces between the rays. The coat is fastened with a metal hook and two plaited red and yellow woollen braids.

Text from Eth Doc 1836 (entry 5): An outer garment, 'klashnik'. The 'klashnik' is mainly worn by young married women on the wedding day. They are obliged to wear it for a certain period of their married life and take it off with a special ritual on a fixed day.
The garment is made of a white woollen cloth. It is usually above the knees, open at the front, flared and sleeveless. The edges are bordered with red cords. The decoration is mainly along the two sides of the back and the top of the gusset while the right side passes on to the front and forms a square pattern. The embroidery work is made of silk and woollen threads. It consists of thick embroidered stripes with loose outlines. The front pattern consists of linear ornaments featuring pitchers. The other patterns feature plants and flowers.
Part of a woman's two-apron festive attire from the village of Komarevo, Pleven district, central north Bulgaria. End of the C19th.For other parts of this festive dress, see:
6: shirt
7: apron (back) ('bruchnik' or 'vulnenik')
8: apron
9: belt
11: head-dressInformation supplementary to Eth Doc:
The neckline and front opening edges would originally have had a black fur trim. Traces of the stitching and a slightly different colour to the wool indicate that the trim is missing. For an illustration of a Pleven region married woman's festive costume in whicht he coat has a fur tirm, see Traditional Bulgarian Costumes and Folk Arts', Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia 1994, pp. 38-9, fig. 17. See also, P. Pountev et al, 'Bulgarian Folk Art, Sofia1980, p. 44, pl. 26, text p. 75-6. For the rest of the costume, without the klashnik, see ibid, p. 29.This coat (klashnik) is part of a particular style of costume, featuring two aprons, which was popular in the grain growing areas of northern Bulgaria. It is well adapted for working in the fields. The festive verison of the costume features a long sleeved chemise, puckered at the neck, gathered at the wrists and richly embroidered. It is accompanied by a kilt-like pleated apron worn at the back and a flat apron at the front and a simple woven belt. This fine coat and a head-dress decorated with coins, tassels and artificial flowers completes the outfit.
As an over-garment the klashnik was worn mainly by young women on their wedding day. The women were obliged to wear it for a certain period of their married life before it was removed ceremonially on a fixed day. The embroidered motifs include amuletic symbols such as the sun, and marital imagery such as the tree of life and water pitchers.

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  • Title: Bulgarian costume, sleeveless coat (klashnik) detail
  • Date Created: 1875/1899
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 88 centimetres Width: 93 centimetres (at hem)
  • Provenance: Given by the Bulgarian Government
  • Copyright: © The Trustees of The British Museum
  • British Museum link: Eu1971,01.10