Cypriot traditional costumes


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Cypriot traditional costumes

  2. 2.  Cypriot costumes are an integral component of the traditional culture of Cyprus. Each one is distinctive of a group of people who lived on this east Mediterranean island, and who, despite their idiosyncracies, maintained a uniform identity, keeping alive the consciousness of their common origin and history.  Study of the different types of Cypriot costume reveals the island’s relations with neighbouring and far-off lands, through trade or conquest. The costumes bespeak the Cypriot people’s ability to assimilate foreigh traits and to re-create them in its own way, consistent with its own tradition.  Each individual costume is a complex work of art, combining not only techniques of processing the raw materials, weaving and embellishment, but also skill and sensitivity in the manner in which it is cut and sewn. The costume is the true expression of folk artistic creation. GENERAL INFORMATION
  3. 3.  Compared with the costumes of the wider Greek world, those of Cyprus are simpler and display a greater degree of uniformity, on account of the island’s limited size. There are, nevertheless, local variations, both in the kind of costume and in its details: in the color of the cloth, the combination of its partial elements, the cut, decoration and in its accessories.  Like Cypriot folk art in general, the costumes are characterized by a conservatism, though this in no way detracts from their diversity and charm.  In a more or less egalitarian society, such as that of Cyprus until the early decades of the present century, the costumes worn by men and women gave their wearers a sense of security, confidence and ease. GENERAL INFORMATION
  4. 4.  The materials used for the costumes were cotton and silk, the cultivation, processing and weaving of which have a long tradition on Cyprus. Wool, mixed with cotton yarn, was used only rarely for the chemises worn in mountainous villages. THE MATERIALS
  5. 5.  The most usual fabric for the outer garments was alatziá, a durable cotton cloth rather like ticking, usually with fine vertical or crossed stripes in deep red, blue, yellow, orange or green on a white ground. Men’s shirts and women’s dresses for everyday wear were generally of blue alatziá with white stripes. Black was substituted for blue in the cloth used for the jackets of elderly men, while those of younger men were of standard red-striped alatziá zimpounísimi.  There were also local variations for the festival costumes, which had a characteristic colour combination and were named according to their provenance, such as marathéftikes, morphitoúdes, lapithkiótikes inter alia. THE ALATZIÁ FABRIC
  6. 6.  The Cypriot female costume basically consists of the outer garment, the chemise and the distinctive long pantaloons caught around the ankle.  Two general categories of Cypriot female costumes can be distinguished: urban and rural. The former display a greater number of European influences, like their counterparts in Greece, while the latter preserve more of the authentic local traits and peculiarities. The most representative rural costumes are those of Karpasia and Paphos, of the interior, mesaritiki, and the mountains, oreini. FEMALE COSTUMES
  7. 7. The 'saya', a kind of frock open at the front and sides, was common in most urban and rural regions of Cyprus until the 19th century. Local variants were still worn in the remoter parts of Karpasia and Paphos in the early decades of the present century. From the 19th century onwards the saya was gradually replaced in the towns by the short fitted jacket and skirt. THE SAYÁ
  9. 9. THE DOUPLETTI Costume of Karpasia, "saya'" with "douple'tti". Late 19th Century. Collection of the Cyprus Folk Art Museum. A peculiar local garment in Karpasia, the north- east part of Cyprus, is the doupletti, a white, densely pleated skirt, cast double over the shoulders like a cape; the standing collar, which is actually the skirt waistband, is embroidered in white with coloured beads. This skirt was originally part of the bridal costume, worn with the sa'rka.
  10. 10. The 'foustani', a one- piece, waisted and pleated dress, was the preferred over- garment in the rural areas of Cyprus, particularly the plain and the mountains, well into the 1950s, which decade was a turning point for modernization in the countryside. The festival foustani was worn with an embroidered apron, the everyday one with a plain. In Paphos the saya' was retained alongside the fousta'ni, since it was considered easier to wear. Both garments, saya and foustani, had a large oval opening in front, the trachilia' or dickey, to facilitate breast-feeding. THE FOUSTÁNI WITH APRON
  12. 12.  In Karpasia and other rural regions of the plains, the women working in the fields in the summer lifted up the hem of their saya' or fousta'ni and tucked it in at the waist. Some just wore the chemise and zoma, a sash improvised from a diagonally folded dark kerchief, tied round the waist with the pointed end behind.  Analogous with the zoma is the foutas, a rectangular piece of cloth, folded diagonally and tied in front. It was worn round the waist like a broad cummerbund, covering the chemise below.  In the towns the women used the foutas in the bath-house. The pa'nna, an equivalent garment, was worn in the mountainous regions of Cyprus and as part of the festival costume. LOCAL VARIATIONS
  13. 13. From the second half of the 19th century, in Nicosia (the capital of the island) and the other towns, as in the urban areas of Greece, variations of the so-called Amalia costume came into vogue. This type of dress diffused to the extensive rural settlements of Cyprus too. It comprises a wide silk skirt, a short fitted jacket with sleeves, the sarka, which had a large opening on the chest, a fez and kerchief. Characteristic of the Cypriot version of the pan-Hellenic Amalia costume is the sattakrouta fabric from Nicosia, dyed with plant substances in shades of yellow, orange, green and earth colours. THE AMALIA COSTUME-THE URBAN kerchief sarka silk skirt chemise
  14. 14.  The best sarkes were produced in Nicosia, whose seamstresses and tailors had a high reputation. The latter sewed and embroidered the fine costumes, women's sarkes, men's waistcoats and short jackets worn all over Cyprus. Local cloth was used, though black woollen felt, tsoufa, or velvet was purchased for "best-wear". The embroidery was executed in over-sewn metal wire, ttelia, or silk thread .  The luxurious pure silk chemise worn under the sarka is visible on the chest and the sleeves. Both the large frontal opening, trachilia or dickey, and the long maniketta or cuffs are embellished with delicate silk crochet lace, pipilla. THE AMALIA COSTUME-THE URBAN
  15. 15.  In contrast to the urban costume, which frequently became a criterion of social class, a relative uniformity is observed in the rural world. The festival dress was usually also the bridal costume, the addition of certain accessories and the characteristic scarlet kerchief, worn in some regions throughout the first year of marriage, being the only features distinguishing the bride from the other female guests. Brides also plaited long strands of wire, ttelia, in their hair, and these hung down like a veil concealing the face. In some regions, such as Karpasia and the Morphou area, there was a special bridal headdress, which only a few women in the community knew how to arrange. BRIDAL COSTUMES
  16. 16.  The most popular bridal costume in Karpasia was a local version of the urban Amalia costume: It consists of a multi- pleated cotton skirt dyed dark red with pine bark, routzietti, worn with a short jacket, sa'rka. Rare local examples of the sa'rka have survived from Karpasia. These are made of white cotton fabric, lavishly embellished with applique decoration and coloured beads.  The entire chest was covered with jewellery; the mirmidi, the cross with the doudounia and corals, the necklace, the kertanes and other pieces. The belt around the waist is fastened with a silver buckle. The headdress is particularly striking: the scarlet kerchief, skepi, is held on the forehead with a frontlet of three successive ribbons in red, yellow and green. Affixed to the headdress is a silver ornament, the splinga, from which chains, coins and coloured beads hang down the sides of the bride's face. THE KARPASIAN BRIDAL COSTUME
  17. 17.  The female headdress which prevailed not only in the rural but also in the urban world was the kouroukla, a square kerchief of fine cotton in different colours; crimson, 'kraseti' (bordeaux), dark green for young women and brown for older ones.  Young girls were psiloskoufomenes, that is they wore the kerchief tied high on the head to expose the brow, since, according to a Cypriot rhyming couplet, those who wore the headdress low, chamiloskoufomenes were "shamed". The hair was parted in the middle and plaited into two long braids. Old women, widows and those in mourning wore a black kerchief, under which they placed a second dark-coloured headsquare, the kouroukla, which covered the hair, forehead and ears like a snood, and was known as the skoufoma. THE HEADDRESS
  18. 18.  The floral designs on the borders are applied with wooden stamps by special craftsmen known as mandila'rides. The "best" kerchiefs are edged with crochet trim, pipilla, in various patterns, such as yasemoudin, foulin, kamaroudin etc., named after the basic motif. The kerchief was folded diagonally, the triangle behind, and the two loose ends turned back and tied high up at the side so that their lace edging was displayed. A silver kerchief pin, 'karfitsa tou mandiliou', a flower of crocheted silk, or real flower was placed in the bow. MANDILARIDES
  19. 19.  The wealthy bourgeoise ladies wore the singular polychrome silk kerchiefs known as koilaniotika. These were tie-dyed with plant colorants in vivid hues, predominantly vermilion, kraseti, gold and green. The technique was exclusive to the village of Koilani and these highly-prized kerchiefs were exported, mainly to Kastellorizo.  In the mountainous villages of the Troodos, the women wore a woollen kerchief with fringing, krossia, the tsemberi. Embroidered in one corner of the festival or bridal kerchief was a bird, generically called peacock, pagoni, or a flower, which could be seen on the triangle behind. THE HEADDRESS
  20. 20. Town-dwelling women of the 19th century wore boots and slippers of yellowish leather while in the 20th century black court shoes became fashionable. In the rural areas, and especially the mountains, women wore short hob-nailed boots, potinia, made by the same cobblers, skarparides, as fashioned the men's boots or podines. Cypriot women rarely wore hose; in keeping with the strict moral code observed, the long pantaloons covered even the soles of the feet. THE SHOES
  21. 21.  Essential accessories of the costume of the wealthiest urban women were various items of gold jewellery, indicative of their social rank and economic status. However, most women wore silver and gilded ornaments with the festival costume, and those worn in the villages were often of silvered bronze. OTHER ACCESSORIES
  22. 22.  The commonest articles were pins, splidzies, worn in the headscarf or on the chest, rows of chains upon the chest, mirmidia, from which hung tiny Turkish coins, pparaoudkia, and gems of coral or glass, necklaces - kertanedes and skalettes - various crosses, such as the trifourenos with tiny filigree spheres and coral, earrings, bracelets and finger rings. JEWELLERY
  23. 23.  Some bridal costumes included a velvet belt ernbroidered with metallic thread, fastened with a silver buckle, poukles. The broad sash worn by women in the towns had silk- embroidered ends and two large, shiny metal buckles at the front.  Cypriot jewellery was wrought by local goldsmiths in Nicosia and was embellished with filigree trifoureni, pierced, hammered and cast decoration. JEWELLERY
  24. 24.  There are very few distinct regional differences in the male costume of Cyprus. Its basic components are the densely pleated baggy trousers, vra'ka, which held sway in all the C,reek islands, and the waistcoat, yilekko, or jacket, zibouni. Yet this apparent uniformity is punctuated by some local features, manifest in the size of the vraka and the colour of the cloth used for the chest garment. These diacritical traits used to be indicative of the wearer's origin. MALE COSTUMES Rural male costume Urban male costume
  25. 25.  The vra'ka was made of coarse hand-woven dimity, which was dyed, after sewing, by local dyers, poyatzides; black for elderly men, blue for younger ones. The vraka varied in size and shape from region to region. That for "best" wear was very wide, requiring forty piches (yards) of dimity, according to the popular Cypriot distich. The bustle, sella, which hung behind, was densely pleated, prosiasma. This was normally tucked up into the belt and only left to hang freely when the wearer went to church. In Oreini Nicosia, the vra'ka, known here as tsiatta'lin, was appreciably narrower than in other regions. White cotton underpants were worn underneath. THE VRAKA
  26. 26.  The vra'ka is worn with a chemise or shirt, of dark striped cotton material everyday and of silk on Sundays. The silk shirt was a basic garment of the groom's costume, being a present from his bride-to-be, like his kerchief which was symbolic of their union and tied around his neck during the wedding ceremony. The cut of the shirt, the manner in which it was sewn and embellished, varied according to region. That of the Mesaoria is particularly elaborate, being made of highly- prized taisto silk with a shoulder piece and traversa in front, cut on the cross and trimmed with tucks and European lace. The sleeves are voluminous, with cuffs and poma'niko, that is a triangular inset to the under-arm seam to facilitate freedom of movement. THE CHEMISE OR SHIRT In many districts, including the Mesaoria, men also wore a vest next to the skin. This was of hand-woven cotton and embroidered in those places visible beneath the shirt, such as the neck opening and the cuffs. In rural areas a knitted vest of home- spun wool was worn in winter.
  27. 27.  Though the vra'ka and shirt were more or less the same all over the island, there were more obvious variations in the jacket worn with them. This garment is short, fitted, straight or crossed over and fastened. The sleeve- less version is the yilekko, the sleeved the zibouni or zibouna. The vertical opening down the back, which enabled the wearer to make expansive movements, was fastened with a cord or ribbon. The yilekka and zibounia worn in country districts were of the same cotton alatzia' as the female over- garment. In summer the waistcoat was worn on its own, in winter under the zibouni. THE YILEKKO AND ZIBOUNI yilekko zibouni
  28. 28.  The edges, back and pocket of the festival waistcoat were embroidered, in contrast to the everyday version which was quite plain. The oldest zibouni in Karpasia, the perikos, was embelished with white loom-embroidery with coloured "stones", petrou'des, very similar to that on the women's festival saye's (A. Pieridou, op. cit., p.28). Jackets for Sunday wear in this region had a cross-over fastening and were thus known as stavrote's. Wile the zibou'nia and yile'kka worn in the rural areas were made in the villages, the sklavou'nika worn in the towns were sewn by professional tailors in Nicosia. They were of ready-made woollen cloth and elaborately decorated with embroidery of over-sewn twisted cotton thread. There were even waiscoats of velvet and the famous sattakrou'ta silk, with which the Nicosian ladies made their skirts.  The groom's yilekkozi'bouna was usually made of dark velvet with brightly coloured applique designs of birds and animals on the back, such as confronting lions, a symbol of virility. THE DECORATION
  29. 29.  A broad cummerbund, zona'ri, was worn around the waist. This was of black dimity with fringing at the narrow ends for older men and of brightly coloured silk, ttalapoulou'zi, in the young men's festival attire and the groom's costume. A knitted purse hung from the sash, or a bought purse, kkeme'ri, was tucked inside it. THE ZONARI
  30. 30.  All year round, the men in the rural parts of Cyprus wore heavy, hob- nailed boots to protect them from snakes which abound on the island. Flat-soled and made by specialist cobblers, skarpa'rides, these are the most expensive item in the male costume. In the town men wore European-style boots, frangopodi'nes, or shoes, ska'rpes. In some districts the groom wore leather slippers with a bow, syriane's. The knitted cotton or woollen socks worn with the boots or shoes were attached to the bottom, podina'ria, of the baggy trousers with laces. THE SHOES
  31. 31.  The male costume was formerly completed by a fez, either worn alone of with a kerchief tied with the triangle at the side, the kouroukli'n. The male headdress was later simplified and only the kerchief remained. The groom's kerchief, of brightly coloured wool, was bought. The edges were trimmed with crochet lace, pipi'lla, or fine fringing. The everyday kerchiefs were just the same as the kourou'kles worn by the women, with stamped designs; young men wore light ones, old men dark. The farmers of the plain wore a straw hat. THE HEADDRESS
  32. 32.  The male costume was complemented by a simple parure of silver ornaments; a watch and chain, chains and finger rings. Greek officials wore rings with a seal on the bezel and ancients stones. OTHER ACCESSORIES
  33. 33. Most of the text used for the creation of this presentation was taken from the book: Papademetriou E. (1991),“CYPRUS TRADITIONAL COSTUMES”, Folk Art Museum of the Society of Cypriot Studies”, Athens. The pictures used were taken from the above book, the picture collection of the Cyprus Handicraft Service and from the internet. THANK YOU! BIBLIOGRAPHY
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