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Men's calf-length boots for the Kraków costume, made of black Russian leather. The main stitch is at the back of the boot. The boots have an isolated vamp, counters and a two-piece upper. The upper is stiffened at the top and lined with leather, at the bottom it is soft and lined with linen.


Men's calf-length boots for the Kraków costume, made of black Russian leather. The main stitch is at the back of the boot. The boots have an isolated vamp, counters and a two-piece upper. The upper is stiffened at the top and lined with leather, at the bottom it is soft and lined with linen. The sides, feature so-called ears on the inner side to make them easier to put on. The shoes are not decorated in any way. The soles are made of leather and pegged. The heels are low, made of leather, lined with rubber.
Men always wore boots with uppers, and can be divided into two basic types due to the location of the stitching: Hungarian (with stitching on the sides) and Polish (with stitching at the rear). They always reached to below the knees and were large enough so the wearer could wrap his foot with a foot-wrap (a large piece of canvas or a fustian) or with a straw bundle during the winter. They were sewn from cowhide, with different shapes of boots. It was soft and straight or stiff, arranged in a harmonica at the ankle. The heels of the shoes were always shod with metal fastenings or plates. The Hungarian shoe type is considered to be the oldest and initially it had a soft upper. They were also called dobczycoki — from Dobczyce, which was one of the shoemaking centres of aLesser Poland. Later, the fashion came for Polish shoes, also called polokie, which always had a hard upper and one stitching at the back. We also distinguish 'crinkle-cut' shoes, differing from Polish ones and featuring bellows (part of the shoe sewn at the height of the ankles), folded in bends, so-called notches. The last type of shoes are spuscane, which had a thin leather bellow, thanks to which the upper could be pulled up under the knee or lowered to the ankles. A decorative element, and at the same time practical, was the so-called huncwot, a piece of hard leather nailed to the heel with a brass nail, making it easier to take off the shoes with a special device called a dog (see how a dog for removing shoes – Knee-boot jack as looked in the WMM collection). The common feature of Hungarian, Polish and crinkle-cut shoes was a high heel, while spuscoki had a low and wide heel.
Notches with sharp or semicircular edges connecting the upper and the rest of the shoes at about the ankle-height were modelled on a special wooden shoe-tree. After the shoes were made, the part between the upper and the heel was soaked in lukewarm water, and then special stretchers with notches were put into the shoes and the notches were imprinted using block cut to the right size, and when the leather dried a bit, the stretchers were removed and the notches were tightened by clamping them with iron clamps. The notches were fine and sharp, or large with gentle bends.
Polish shoes were made of yuft, or cowhide shamoyed with a plant method, characterized by softness, durability and high contiguity. They were finished on the outside in natural colour and heavily greased, thank to which they featured exceptional resistance to water and stretching. It should be mentioned that shoes with a natural skin colour were considered to be less beautiful than black ones. Hence, the term 'blacking uppers', or blacking shoes, was used to refer to someone looking to impress a potential husband or wife. The blacking was made of coal made of burnt barley straw, pulped in sweet milk , while the marker was made from cow's bristle. The shoes were cleaned rarely, usually before going to church. Shoes were almost never used from spring to autumn, when people walked barefoot. Usually, they were put on for ceremonies or when going to church. In the interwar period, we can observe an increasing presence of shoes, also on a daily basis. This was connected with social changes and the growing affluence of the villagers.
The presented pair of shoes was sewn in the 1st half of the 20th century by an unknown shoemaker. It was purchased for the collection of the Ethnographic Museum in Kraków by Andrzej Czekaj in 1956 for equivalent value of 250 zlotys today. The shoes are not an original example of folk footwear, but the cut accurately reflects the style of Polish shoes. They were treated as substitute shoes, that is, used during various kinds of exhibitions and events as a complement to the Kraków outfit.

Elaborated by Ewa Rossal (The Seweryn Udziela Ethnographic Museum in Kraków), © all rights reserved


Men's Bronowice costume

Kraków costumes come in two principal variants: costumes of the western inhabitants of Kraków (villages located in northern and in the north-eastern outskirts of the city of Kraków, nowadays mostly a part of the city itself) and the eastern inhabitants of Kraków (areas east of Kraków, behind a symbolic line of Jędrzejów...


Kraków costumes come in two principal variants: costumes of the western inhabitants of Kraków (villages located in northern and in the north-eastern outskirts of the city of Kraków, nowadays mostly a part of the city itself) and the eastern inhabitants of Kraków (areas east of Kraków, behind a symbolic line of Jędrzejów – Miechów – Proszowice – Koszyce and between Bochnia and Brzesko). It is thought that the basic determinant of this division is the type of sukmana coat used in a given area. The western inhabitants of Kraków wore sukmana coats with mandarin collars and red trimming, whereas the eastern inhabitants of Kraków wore a kersey, mostly brown with a large triangular collar falling onto the back. The presented attire of the western inhabitant of Kraków dates back to the turn of the 20th century and was used to attend church masses and other celebrations. The most characteristic element was the white sukmana coat (chrzanówka), a typical piece of men’s outerwear around Kraków. In the area of Bronowice and other villages west of 19th-century Kraków, it was ornamented with bundles of threads (chwast), amaranthine or red; in villages situated east of Kraków, the bundles of threads were black. Until World War I, sukmana coats were commonly worn on Sundays and on holidays in villages near Kraków. These sukmana coats were sewn by Chrzanów tailors (the history of the Chrzanów tailors’ guild dates back to the 16th century), and hence the name chrzanówka. Tailors stopped sewing sukmana coats in the first decade of the 20th century as cloth produced by cloth-makers was increasingly scarce.
Sukmana coats were worn over sleeveless tunics. The tunic was a typical element of Kraków’s lavishly decorated male clothing. Besides sleeveless tunics, there were also sleeved tunics. Sleeveless tunics were usually worn under a sukmana coat, whereas sleeved tunics were put on over outerwear. They were the most lavishly decorated part of a man’s clothing, and tunics from Bronowice and villages north and north-west of Bronowice are recognised as the most famous and most lavishly decorated ones. Tunics were trimmed with several rows of pearl buttons and amaranthine or red bundles of threads on the front, on the pocket lapels, by the collar and on the back side of the tunic at the waist. The colour of the thread bundles strictly correlated with the colour of thread bundles on the chrzanówka. For a tunic with amaranthine or red bundles of threads, one would wear a sukmana coat with bundles of threads of the same colour, whereas for a tunic with green bundles of threads, Kraków peasants would choose a chrzanówka with black bundles of threads. The tunic was girded with a wide leather belt (trzos).
An opasek belt is a kind of a trzos belt, i.e. a double belt made by folding a piece of leather vertically and sewing it together with a thong. Trzos belts were used in Poland as early as the 16th century. In the mid-19th century, peasants living in and around Stary Sącz and Nowy Sącz wore trzos belts made of eel skin. Due to shape- and technique-related differences, we can divide trzos belts into Kraków trzos belts and highlander trzos belts. The Opasek belt was worn north, west and south of Kraków. It was made of fine calfskin and was between 10 and 25 cm wide. It did not encircle the waist entirely; it needed to be extended with a leather strap onto which the belt itself was mounted. Below the tunic there was a white linen shirt with an embroidered collar fastened with a collar stud decorated with a coral bead, or a red ribbon. Western inhabitants of Kraków wore white trousers with red stripes (portki) (white linen trousers with vertical stripes, mostly red, sometimes pink or blue, in winter – often dark cloth trousers), stuck into black leather knee-high boots. A westerner wore a felt hat – celender or magierka, i.e. a round men’s woollen hat with a characteristic shape, knit with the stocking stitch, subjected to fulling and modelled, produced mainly in Tyniec. On the occasion of holidays, Kraków inhabitants wore four-cornered hats decorated with peacock feathers.
Kraków inhabitants’ attire was formed completely in the late 18th century, and a breakthrough in its history was the events connected with the Kościuszko Uprising (1794) and the symbolic gesture of Tadeusz Kościuszko putting on a white peasant sukmana coat. Ever since, the wearing of a white sukmana coat with red facings and a red four-cornered hat, colours alluding to the national colours became a kind of one’s manifestation of their patriotism. The career of the Kraków costume involved its breaking regional barriers and barriers related to the social strata. As a result, in the 19th century, the costume grew into the national attire. The Racławice theme also appeared in historiography, literature and paintings. Its inextricable element was the Kraków male costume, faithfully represented in paintings by Jan Matejko Kościuszko pod Racławicami (Kościuszko at Racławice), Włodzimierz Tetmajer’s Racławice triptych or Wojciech Kossak’s and Jan Styka’s Panorama Racławicka (Racławice Panorama). The Kościuszko Uprising gave rise to military uniforms being modelled after Kraków sukmana coats, worn by Kraków regiments fighting in subsequent national uprisings. The white sukmana coat and red four-cornered hat came to symbolise the struggle for independence.
Between the late 18th century and the early 20th century, this form of clothing also became a model for sleigh rides and ball costumes. It was also then that a fad emerged for dressing servants in excessively ornamented kerseys, modelled after peasant sukmana coats. At that time, stylised Kraków attire could also be seen on the theatre stage, among others in the opéra bouffe, Cud mniemany, czyli Krakowiacy i Górale [The Presumed Miracle, or Cracovians and Highlanders] with a libretto by Wojciech Bogusławski (1794). Additionally, the way the inhabitants of Krakow villages dressed was the inspiration behind the costumes in the first Polish national ballet, Wesele w Ojcowie [Wedding in Ojców] by Karol Kurpiński (1823).
Since the mid-19th century, Kraków saw the emergence of escorts of horsemen clad in white sukmana coats and red four-cornered hats, which accompanied church and national ceremonies and rich weddings. This phenomenon undoubtedly crossed regional boundaries.
The last decades of the 19th century and the early 20th century saw the heyday of ornamentation in the costume of the Kraków peasantry (Bronowice, Mogiła), which coincided with Young Poland artists’ fascination with the culture of the Kraków peasants. The culture of Bronowice gained particular fame; it can be admired in paintings by Tetmajer, Wodzianowski and Żelichowski. The huge popularity of the costume was consolidated by Stanisław Wyspiański’s Wesele [Wedding], a drama based on poet Lucjan Rydel’s wedding with a peasant girl, Jadwiga Mikołajczykówna of Bronowice Małe. Costumes for the première of the performance held in 1901, modelled after Kraków costumes, were designed by the writer himself. What shows the impact power of the Kraków dress is the fact that in the early 20th century the term “Kraków fashion” came to symbolise colourfulness, ornamentation, richness in other regional costumes and also the frequent participation of Kraków men and women in church and state ceremonies as a way of dignifying those events.
In the 20th century, the Kraków region saw a fad for replacing the costly peasant dress with cheaper factory-made clothing. The folk costume was occasionally used as the national and representative attire worn during state and church ceremonies and folk festivities. For Polish emigrants, the clothing was a symbol of their connection with their home country (the Kraków attire played a similar role after World War II).
Nowadays, as a result of the growth of popularity and new roles that the clothing, originally meant for Kraków peasantry’s costume used for church masses and holidays, came to play, the Kraków costume, functioning now primarily as a disguise, has sometimes substantially diverged from what genuine Kraków attire looks like. Just as centuries ago, however, it inspires artists and creative professionals. Processed and reproduced, it has become Kraków’s inextricable image product.

Elaborated by Ewa Rossal (The Seweryn Udziela Ethnographic Museum in Kraków), © all rights reserved


Men's shoes for Kraków costume




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