Polish folk costumes from the collection of The State Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw.
"Corpus Christi procession in Złaków Kościelny", directed by Tadeusz Jankowski, 1939. “Księżacy” - inhabitants of Złaków Kościelny, in the Łowicz area of Poland, are going to participate in the local Corpus Christi procession. They are wearing traditional folk costumes typical for the region.
Łowickie costumes are the most representative ones in central Poland. They have undergone many changes with regard to both colour of fabric. Towards the end of the 19th century and until around 1914, the background of the striped fabrics was red, then it became orange and did not change until the end of the 1920's, but in the 1930's, with the arrival of aniline dyes, it took on some cooler colours; green, blue, violet and grey. During the above periods the embroidery of shirts was changing too.
It was a characteristic element of the traditional wedding costume.The oldest garlands were made from rue, which was grown in home gardens. Later garlands made from herbs and flowers were replaced with fairly large headgear.The garland consisted of a cloth cap, adorned with draped ribbons and pearls.The cap was crowned with a headdress - a large bunch of silk flowers, beads and tiny glass bubbles.The garland was fixed on the head with a ribbon or a wire, entwined with small braids over the forehead.
"A wedding in the Łowicz region", directed by Tadeusz Jankowski, 1937. One of the first colour films produced in Poland.
Biłgoraj costume is classified as archaic. All its elements are made of linen. The original women's headpiece consisted of a "chamełka" (a type of a supportive bonnet) with a "rańtuch" (a scarf worn loosely around the head), common across the South-West Poland. The S-like and helix-like embroidery patterns used were also of archaic nature.
“Kalita” - men’s bag was a characteristic element of men’s traditional costume in Biłgoraj area. The horseshoe shape bag had a flap covering its whole length and making the whole thing convex.“Kalita” was worn on the back-left side with the strap over the right shoulder.It was used for travelling, for example to a church fair, distant weddings or fairs.When setting off men would put food into the bag (bread, pork fat, alcohol) as well as necessary tools, for example a knife, leather tobacco bag, pipe, flint and steel, snuff box made from bull’s horn.
The costume worn by Lachowie Sądeccy is considered to be one of the most beautiful Polish folk costumes. It pleases the eye with colourful, embroidered, chain-stitched applications (made by men) on jackets and trousers, colourfully embroidered shirts and delicate, linear, bead embroidery on female corsets.
A Cracow costume is the only peasants' attire which was promoted to the rank of a Polish national costume. This decision was made on patriotic grounds, with the Cracow's peasants’ participation in the Kościuszko Uprising as a main factor. Even the Uprising's leader, Tadeusz Kościuszko, used to wear the Cracow costume (so he dressed "like a peasant") just so that he would not be recognised by Russian spies. Kościuszko's popularity contributed to the popularisation of the Cracow costume among the Poles in general.
Some of the costume's elements were applied to the uniforms worn by participants of the 19th century national uprisings. This popularity of the Cracowian costume, especially in its female version, was then reinforced by the Cracow’s intelligence of the Young Poland (Młoda Polska) movement, who promoted it as a new fashion.
The highlands are represented by Podhale costumes. A common feature of both Balkan and Carpathian highlanders is the fact, that the men’s outfit elements, such as "gunia", "cucha" (types of coats) and "portki" (trousers), are all made of thick, fulled cloth in the natural colour of sheeps fleece. Rich ornaments, colourful applications and woollen embroideries were all made by men. The colourful compositions, woven on the thigh sections of "portki", called "parzenica" deserve particular interest.
However, the Polish folk costume had not really bloomed until the second half of the 19th century, after the affranchisement of peasants and abolition of serfdom in the countryside, which resulted in changes of the peasants’ legal status and helped improve the general living conditions of rural communities. Villagers demonstrated these changes by making their costumes richer, using better quality, beautiful embellishments, such as priceless embroideries, laces and jewellery.
The Kaszubian embroidery as we know it today appeared in the region in the 1920s and 1930s. It was created by Teodora Gulgowska, Franciszka Majkowska and Maksymilian Lewandowski and other people creating the so-called variations (the schools of teaching the technique in the Kaszuby region). The embroidery was created to combat unemployment and was designed to be liked by urban and foreign customers. Today “Kaszubian embroidery” functions as “Kaszubian model” and is used in various markets (food, advertisement, everyday items, regional coats of arms etc.).
The State Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw/ Państwowe Muzeum Etnograficzne w Warszawie
Curators/Kuratorzy: Patryk Pawlaczyk, Klara Sielicka-Baryłka from Polish & European Folklore Department
Coordination/Koordynacja projektu: Klara Sielicka-Baryłka
Support team: Elżbieta Czyżewska, Anastazja Stelmach, Przemysław Walczak, Anahita Rezaei
Special thanks to: Jadwiga Koszutska; Łukasz Zandecki; Marzena Borman; Joanna Bartuszek & Barbara Kowalczyk; Edward Koprowski; Mariusz Raniszewski; Agnieszka Grabowska; Aleksander Robotycki
Translation: Jan Sielicki & The SEM`s documentation