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Polish national folk costumes. PDF Drukuj Email
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 The origins of Polish national folk costumes go back to late 19th century and early 20th century. In between World Wars the costumes started to be treated as festive clothes not as casual, everyday garment. The design and the appearance of a costume depend on a region of Poland it comes from, climatic conditions, type of industry, socio-economic relatioships and the historical background of the region.  

witokrzyski costume

Male costume – Brown russet coat with the left lapel turned inside out. On the head a cornered, navy blue hat with a hatband made of black lamb fur. Leather high-heeled boots, sewn on the sides.  

Female costume – corset with a short basque, ornamented with colourful crossing ribbons. Heads were covered with headscarves, married women wore bonnets. Stockings (mainly white) were scarcely worn. Another element of women’s garment was a corset embroided on the front and back, decorated with coloured ribbons or beads.

Highlanders’ costume.

Male costume – consisted of a linen shirt, woolen coat (cucha) , trews, sheepskin waistcoat, hat, highlanders’ leather shoes (kierpce) and a belt. The woolen coat was fastened with buttons or hooks and eyes and tied high on the torso with coloured ribbons. Below the tie was embroidery. The pants were tailored from white hand-woven cloth, ornamented with stripes running along external stitches.

Female costume – women wore a shirt with white embroidery on the collar and cuffs, colourful, flower-patterned skirts along with ornamented and embroided corset, sheepskin waistcoat in winter. Black half-uppered boots, laced and high-heeled. Heads were covered with headscarves tied under the chin. When outside, a huge woolen scarf was worn on the shoulders.

Silesian costume

Female costume– the basic element of female costume in Silesia was oplecek, a back cloth with a dress and a bra with a skirt sewn to it. The other parts of the costume included: apron, kabotek, a white plain waist-long shirt, bonnet and a scarf. The costume was made of silk and wool. Skirts and aprons were long and broad. On festive occasions girls wore wreaths made of artificial flowers, decorated with long and wide patterned ribbons.  

Male costume – a characteristic coat with a cloak, popular since the early 20th century. As he got better-off, gazda, the host/landlord started wearing a thin shirt, usually embroided, trousers and shoes so called Polish zgrzyboki. In summer the head was covered with a hand-made straw hat. It was worn about the house and in the fields; in winter a baranica was worn – it was a cap made of lamb fur with a cylindrical base but cone shaped up to its top. On festive occasions men wore, purchased at fairs, so called czopki, wide-brimmed hats made of black or less frequently grey felt.  

Polish historical costumes.

The national costume defined our place in the history of Europe. As the arts of war changed so did the armour. In the 12th century warriors wore loose tunics, chain mails and leather shoes. In the 14th century knights protected their whole body with metal plates. The complete armour weighed as much as 25 kilograms.

The splendour of Baroque made the costume much more sophisticated. In Poland, during the reign of Zygmunt August the Spanish style was in fashion. That could also be observed in many other European countries at that time. In the 16th century the national costume took its form. It was mostly influenced by Hungarian costumes during the reign of Stefan Batory. The costume of noblemen included upan, a very elegant coat which was made of wool or silk, patterned fabric. It had a low upright collar, long narrow sleeves and was fastened with many little buttons running from the collar to the waist. The coat was girded with a soft metal belt. Onto the upan, two other kinds of coats were worn. They were delia and ferezja. These were not buttoned but only tied around the neck.

In 16th century, together with upan, noblemen wore long and narrow trousers and low-heeled bootees reaching slightly above the ankle. The hats had a round top in a form of a loose and hanging bag with a furry band. The hats were ornamented with an expensive fastener and a bunch of heron feathers.

During the times of Stefan Batory, a cap called batorwka came into fashion. It had a slit on the side which ran wider to the top. An elegant robe, kontusz, was, up to the 20th century, a symbol of Polish ceremonial outfit. It gained spreading popularity in the thirties of the 17th century.  

A belt was an indispensable addition to the national costume. Initially, net belts were bought and used by lower noblemen and craftsmen. Woolen belts were won by peasants.  

Trousers were known as trews. When styled in an Eastern way, they were called szarawary.

Calpac is a tall cylindrical hat. In the 18th century its popularity slowly decreased.

Confederate hats – the “pius” type or the three- or four-cornered hats without a visor were worn since the 18th century.

Cornered hat – a man’s hat with a square top. In Poland it had been known since the medieval times. Later known as the confederate hat which later was turned into a tall hat with a visor.

Until the 18th century boots were hobnailed. In mid-18th century heels appeared. Usually a nobleman owned two pairs of boots. They were usually in red or yellow colour.  

Authors: Ewa Bukaa, Zdzisaw Klusek 

(pupils from I, II and III classes , gymnasium)
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