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The head scarf was the most important and most valuable covering of married women; it was an indispensable element of women’s folk costume in Krakow. It was put on women for the first time during the traditional wedding ceremony called Oczepiny, to indicate the change in her marital status. Scarves were worn by married women throughout their entire future life.

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Square women’s head scarf made of white linen. Decorated with complex embroidered compositions of flower bouquets in the corners. The margin features a wide embroidered strip with decoration composed of repeating motifs of tiny flowers and sprigs, made by using the convex embroidery technique with hole punching, finished with openwork serrations with floral motifs.
The head scarf was the most important and most valuable covering of married women; it was an indispensable element of women’s folk costume in Krakow. It was put on women for the first time during the traditional wedding ceremony called Oczepiny, to indicate the change in her marital status. Scarves were worn by married women throughout their entire future life. Square, made of canvas and batiste, silk or tulle, they were richly embroidered with floral and plant motifs. The headscarf was folded diagonally, and then the ends were crossed under a slowly hanging embroidered corner and tied at the forehead in a knot. During the wedding ceremony, donning the scarf was accompanied by songs and chants, including:

“I only regret one thing: half of that braid, which covered my back, which covered my back, covered my neck, and now will hide under the scarf.”

Headscarves called “bonnets” also had some magical significance. Even at the beginning of the 20th century, there was widespread belief that a married woman could cause a storm or hail by uncovering her head. And when a pregnant woman did so, she would expose her own soul and that of her unborn child to abduction by demons. From the mid-nineteenth century, embroidered scarves, hand-made by girls, began to be replaced by scarves produced and embroidered by machines.

 

Elaborated by Marek Grabski (Museum — Vistula Ethnographic Park in Wygiełzów and Lipowiec Castle), © all rights reserved

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Kraków costumes

In 1903, the Publishing Committee of the Anthropological Committee of the Academy of Learning, along with Włodzimierz Tetmajer and Seweryn Udziela, undertook the challenge of describing the richness of folk costumes, beginning with Kraków ones.
The usual male headgear...

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In 1903, the Publishing Committee of the Anthropological Committee of the Academy of Learning, along with Włodzimierz Tetmajer and Seweryn Udziela, undertook the challenge of describing the richness of folk costumes, beginning with Kraków ones.
The usual male headgear was cylinder and the haircutting was done by barbers, putting pots on their customers' heads to achieve ideally even haircut.
Interestingly enough, according to Włodzimierz Tetmajer, the outfit (...) of the peasant is the reflection of the former noblemen attire and today's bourgeois dress, and it has been changing simultaneously with them — and thus the hat widely worn by peasants took origin in higher social strata.
It was typical of the inhabitants of the entire Kraków district to distinguish between maidens and married women by their hairstyle. Maidens (commonly referred to as girls) plaited their hair into two plaits, which stuck from their bonnet headscarves, additionally decorated with artificial flowers. They also stuck pins with colourful heads into their headscarves.
Married women cut their hair and allowed tufts of hair (icki) to stick out of their scarves. Once married, they never went anywhere with their heads uncovered. Previously headscarves had been tied at the back, though at the beginning of the century the custom of headscarves tied below the chin started to become popular.
Additionally, maidens would decorate their headscarves with bouquets of artificial flowers.

Elaborated by Anna Berestecka (Editorial team of Małopolska's Virtual Museums),
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

See the Kraków dress as captured by Tadeusz Rząca.

See also:
Men's tunic for Kraków costume

Men's shirt for Kraków costume
Apron for Kraków costume

White woollen apron

Velvet corset for Kraków costume

Women's shirt for Kraków costume

Green woollen skirt

Black woollen skirt for an old type of Bronowice costume

Chequered skirt

Wedding scarf

Women's shoes hungarian style for Kraków costume

Men's shoes for Kraków costume

Celender” hat for Kraków costume

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How to tie a wedding scarf?

Subtle knots exposing the beautiful embroidered starched material… Thanks to this the scarf becomes a real decoration for the head… However, would everyone be able to tie such a scarf nowadays? The thing that was very easy for our great-grandmothers could be very problematic these days...

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Subtle knots exposing the beautiful embroidered starched material… Thanks to this the scarf becomes a real decoration for the head… However, would everyone be able to tie such a scarf nowadays? The thing that was very easy for our great-grandmothers could be very problematic these days.
For those who like tradition and for all of those eager to learn new skills we have prepared a short guideline in co-operation with the employees of the Ethnographic Museum in Kraków.
Similar scarves were typical for folk costumes of the Kraków region in the 19th century. They were worn by both wedded women and maidens, who additionally decorated their scarves with flowers that were forbidden for wedded women. Maidens could be additionally identified by the carefully made plaits protruding from under the scarf.

You are all invited to watch and to try and tie a traditional wedding scarf!

Elaborated by Anna Berestecka (Editorial team of Małopolska's Virtual Museums),
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

See also:
Wedding scarf for Kraków costume

Coif scarf from the region of Gorlice

Wedding scarf from Raciborowice

Wedding scarf

Wedding scarf from Pogórze

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Women’s Krakow attire from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries

Women’s Krakow attire was exceptionally diverse, and it would be difficult to carry out, on the basis of any of its parts, as in the case of men’s attire, a clear division into western and eastern Cracovians. The main elements that distinguished the women’s attire, were, first of all...

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Women’s Krakow attire was exceptionally diverse, and it would be difficult to carry out, on the basis of any of its parts, as in the case of men’s attire, a clear division into western and eastern Cracovians. The main elements that distinguished the women’s attire, were, first of all, the embellishment and cut of the corsets and the manner of tying the headscarves. However, also at this level, we can notice significant differences between neighbouring parishes and even villages. The richest attires occurred in the wealthy villages on the northeastern and northern outskirts of nineteenth-century Krakow – in Mogiła, Pleszów, Bieńczyce, Branice, and Bronowice, which today are mostly within the city borders. In addition, the cut, embellishment, colouring, and material from which the corsets were sewn, had changed over time. An interesting example here is the older and newer corset type from Bronowice, which, for some time at the turn of the century, coexisted in the same area.

Women’s costume from Bronowice, beginning of 20th century

The presented Women’s attire from Bronowice dates back to the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries and was a festive dress, worn to church and during ceremonies. The corset was the most characteristic and also the most distinctive element of women’s attire (see photos above). In the villages to the west of Krakow, among others in Bronowice, the older types of corsets, sewn from navy-blue cloth, ending at the waist, with overlapping pieces of cloth called kaletki, were widespread. The whole was lined and trimmed with red cloth, and, on the fronts, decorated with braiding and buttons made of nacre or brass. Corsets with kaletki appeared in Bronowice in the second half of the 19th and early 20th century. This corset was mostly worn with square-cut shirts with a collar, which were later replaced by shirts with a yoke without a collar. Shirts were sewn from white factory homespun linen and were decorated on the yoke, along the cut at the front, and on the cuffs with embroidery of geometric and floral motifs. The padding and, at the same time, the clasp of the shirt was a clip with a coral or a red ribbon, put through the buttonholes. When wearing festive attire, women also put on coral necklaces (most often in the number of three), crowned with a brass isosceles cross. Real corals—not available to everyone because of the high price—were replaced with artificial ones, mostly made of bread. Feminine rings with a coral gem set directly on the wedding ring or with a coral set on a plate, surrounded by little decorative stones, were a beautiful complement to the jewellery. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, large, ankle-length, sewn from linen chintz, printed in small floral patterns, satin, smooth wool, and silk damask skirts were worn. Skirts with flowered tibet (thin worsted wool fabric of sheep or Tibetan goats made with twill weave) had become popular in feminine Krakow costumeat the end of 19th century and are one of its most characteristic elements. For the skirts, mainly green, black, or white materials were used, the most popular of which was tibet printed in motifs of carmine roses. Usually, several skirts were worn one on another, especially in winter. Underneath, a bottom skirt (petticoat) was worn, made of white linen, trimmed at the bottom with lace or with embroidered notched cloth. On the skirt, azapaska (apron), made of various materials, which patterns and colours usually correlated with the skirt, was put on. Mostly, it was made of tibet, white linen, or tulle. The Krakow aprons were long and loose, covering the front, sides, and also some part of the back of the skirt. Richer housewives wore leather pouches hanging on a strap under the aprons. As a cover coat, large shoulder shawls were commonly worn. The most popular type in the second half of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century were woollen scarves called oknowate from the chequered pattern. Scarves had a chequered pattern in red, white, green, and navy blue. On colder days, women also put on kaftaniki (katanki)   or navy-blue folk jackets. The headdress of married women was a headscarf tied in a bonnet, and for every day attire:red or white patterned chintz scarves; and for special occasion: white, linen, or tulle, with intricate embroidery. Since the end of the 19th century, colourful head scarfs, usually tied at the back of the head, have become popular in the attire of married women and girls. Footwear consisted of black boots with Hungarian uppers, densely ribbed at the ankle, decorated with lockstitch, and sometimes red safique leather.

Women’s shoes hungarian style , 20th century

The unique beauty of Bronowice women’s costumes, manifested in their colours, rich ornamentation, and unique form, were appreciated by the artists of Young Poland. During the 1880s, a group of painters dealing with painting connected with rural life emerged in Krakow. Among them were Włodzimierz Tetmajer, Wincenty Wodzianowski, Kasper Żelichowski, Stanisław Radziejowski, and Ludwik De Laveaux, who, in their paintings, portrayed events from the life of the village and residents in festive costumes. The popularity of the subject has been recorded by Stanisław Wyspiański in his drama The Wedding, inspired by the authentic wedding of the poet Lucjan Rydel with the daughter of a wealthy peasant from Bronowice: Jadwiga Mikołajczykówna. The artists' recognition of the Bronowice costume among the great diversity of Krakow costumes can be connected, on the one hand, with the direct proximity of the village itself to Krakow, and, on the other, with the fact that it belongs to the parish of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Therefore, every day, people from Bronowice were seen in Krakowin characteristic attire, arriving at the market, and on Sundays and holidays dressed more festively, hurrying to the church on the Market Square. The most inspiring spectacle, however, had to be weddings, when, as Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński describes:

“People of Bronowice (...) go along the long Karmelicka street, through the entire Krakow Market, they drive up to the St. Mary's church in those peasant wagons loaded with white sukamnas, fabulously colourful corsets, kerseys, wreaths, caps in the assistance of boisterous groomsmen on horses, creating a picture gripping with its game of colours and the vibrant fantasy”.

Paintings of this kind could not be neutral to painters who were studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, located near the market, or others which were cooperating with it. At the beginning of the 20th century, “Krakow fashion” also appeared in the folk costumes of other Polish regions, in the meaning: colourful, decorative, rich, and, at the same time, equally frequent became the participation of so-called male or female Cracovians celebrating church and state celebrations. In the inter-war period, corsets from the stalls in Krakow’s Sukiennice, made of black velvet and decorated with multi-coloured sequins, became widespread throughout the country. Although they did not have an equivalent in traditional clothes from Krakow, they were known as “Krakow’s.” At that time, the model of the girls’ ”Krakow costume”, being a free adaptation of traditional patterns, was shaped and continues to this day. Next to a black corset with sequins and ribbons on the shoulders, there were: a white blouse with a ruffle, a flowery skirt, a tulle apron sewn with ribbons, colourful glass beads, and a wreath made of artificial flowers. In the 20th century, Krakow’s costume became an occasionally used costume; as a national and ceremonial costume it was worn during state, church, and folk festivities. In turn, for Polish emigrants it was and still is a symbol of attachment to their homeland. Nowadays, a Krakow women’s outfit basically appears as a costume and often deviates substantially from the authentic costume. Nowadays, the children’s version is the most popular in culture, worn by girls during state and religious celebrations, as well as being a carnival costume across Poland.

Regarding the example of a women’s outfit from Bronowice, we can follow the functions of clothing in the rural community, and then their transformation and shifts. The most important in the context of the festive outfit were: a festive or formal function, then aesthetic one, thanks to which it was noticed widely outside the rural community, and ceremonial, in the case of such celebrations as weddings, when the distinctive elements were added to the festive outfit, to mark out individual persons, such as the groom and the bride or best man. Other functions were associated with the manifestation of national or regional identity, and, in some cases – with emphasizing their local identity related to a given parish or village. In addition, the costumes reflected state affiliation, because their completion required large financial outlay, and not everyone could afford richly decorated and original elements. In the case of a festive outfit, the practical function was of the least importance, and, in some cases, the individual parts of the outfit had no practical significance. Over time, we could observe the passing of certain elements from everyday to festive outfits, and then to a ceremonial one. In the broader historical context, using the example of the Krakow costume, we can trace the transformations of the function of the entire outfit, which changed from regional to national dress, changing the function from ceremonial to representative and devoid of the symbolism attributed to it in the context of the rural community.


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

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Wedding scarf

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