Female Costume

Some researchers who dealt with Montenegrin folk costume divide it in citizen and traditional one. That division is usually based in the difference in dressing of orthodox women and women who lived usually on the coast – women of catholic confession. Traditional costume of women in these areas usually was made of: shirt, woolen dress, skirt, apron, belt, kerchief and socks, and as alternative clothing items they used kamizola (certain kind of a vest), koret (short coat usually brown), zubun (sleeveless garment), curdija (type of jacket-short sleeved or sleeveless), and caftan. As for the footwear most often they had opanak (peasant shoes), pasamage, and sometimes even shoes.

When we are talking about the citizen costumes we have to bear in mind all the historical and fashion events in the XVIII century. At that time the wavering wider clothes with folds was designed, which covered the shoulders, and had a square low cut neckline which was hemmed with frills made of lace or of some darker linen. The sleeves were flat and they usually had decorative cuffs. The dress with frills only later was replaced in a dress with folds. Those folds started from the middle of the décolletage around the neck ad they freely fell on the back. In the front well tight corset was connected on every side with a triangular insertion on the belt, and was richly decorated. The upper clothes in some way opened in the area of the skirt and was more or less decorated. It had a flat decorative collar, also flat sleeve which reached up to the elbow and ended with “nagoda” with more frills from which you could see lace cuffs.

Traditional Costume

Garment

From which material a skirt was made depended a lot from the social status. The skirts were usually made of flax and of hemp; festive skirts were made of silk and damask, and were usually decorated with lace or golden embroidery. The skirts were buttoned with buttons, and “ambreta’s” which had both decorative and useful function.

Rasa is a clothing item which was worn over the white shirt. Rasa was made of different kinds of wool.

Skirt was the dressing item which women who had “rasa” had, and who were members of the richer class of immigrants. They were made of “indijana”, silk “kambelot” and other materials.

The belt is a part of traditional costume. Wide belts are made of wool. Later they were replaced by “jakicar”, a hard leather belt which was decorated with red color. Then the belt was usually made of linen or flax. The belt was buttoned with buttons or a buckle or, what was usually the case, it was simply tied around the waist and was usually 6 to 8 cm wide.

What was really characteristic for Montenegrin folk costume is “cemer”. It replaced “jakicar”. It is an easier female belt which is decorated with silver filigrees and has two buckles decorated with various stones (most often those are green or dark red stones). Cemer could else be found made in forged shape. Below the old heavy belt there was another one, known as “zenski trak” (female band). “Zenski trak” is a coarse fabric band which is up to 6cm wide and 5 and more meters long with which women wrapped their waist in order to protect themselves from the pressure of the heavy belt which they wore.

Apron was considered an unavoidable part of the traditional Montenegrin folk costume. Aprons were worn with the traditional costume and were usually intended for the everyday use. Such aprons were made of “tela” and “indijana”. There were those aprons which were worn for festive occasions and such aprons were decorated with silk and golden embroidery.

Jecerma is a kind of a short vest, which goes down to the waist which was made with buttoning and without it and was usually made of coarse fabric or velvet.

Kamizola is also a kind of a vest which was worn over the shirt. It was made of silk and damask. This vest only had women from high social classes.

Zubun was made of coarse fabric, “bombazine” and velet. Zubuns were made in various lengths. They were made without sleeves and with them and they usually had buttons on them with which they were buttoned.

Dolama is a kind of an upper dress which was most often made of coarse fabric and had a festive usage. The length of dolama usually reached the knees, though sometimes it could go even below them, and dolamas always had sleeves. They were decorated with golden buttons or golden ropes.

Bran is a wide female dress. It was worn over the shirt, and it is made of an upper and lower part – from “stan” and of skirt. “Stan” was tight and close to body, while the lower part was made of 5 folds. The length of “bran” went all the way to the feet.

Footwear

Traditional footwear was made of opanci (peasant footwear), slippers, shoes and pasamage. They first put on the socks or knee socks.

Knee socks are a piece of cloth which was used to tightly surround the calves. Their cutting is not at all simple. Knee socks on their ends have some hooks and loops sewed on with which they are tightened so that they can be completely smooth. Tying of knee socks lasts long. It s very important that knee socks are tightened well, because then people are stepping more securely which is of great importance for the Montenegrins who walked a lot and moved around the very steep and stony terrain of Montenegro and even wider.

Socks (bjecve) could be found in Montenegro in several shapes, their length was below the knees, up to the half of the calf or somewhat above the ankle. Lower part of the socks was woven from the wool, while the upper part which was visible most often was made in color – usually in red and in black. The socks had a small slit from the side (inner side), and the rims of the socks were hemmed with red or dark blue color.

Opanci – were the footwear which was most often worn in Montenegro. They are made of beef’s skin. The ends of “opanci” are very low, and they do not have heals, while their front part is edged, and the peak of “opanci” is very tough. The front part of “opanci” is woven into with a “cord”, thin threads of goat’s skin, which was laid transversally, from one end of “opanak” to the other. Down the length of “opanak” and along its middle three or four rows were woven which end in loops, and through them “opanak” was attached to leg. So with this part only a half of the foot was covered, because of which “opanak’ has to be firmly attached to leg. Therefore a small belt is made also from cord with which you surround the foot and with which you bind the front art with the lateral sides of “opanak”. In order for “opanak” to be softer and more comfortable Montenegrins have put inside a insole,, which was extremely significant when “opanak” is already worn or when the skin of “opanak” is already thin. The cord, the material which is used for making “opanak”, was made by Montenegrins themselves. Goat’s skin was dried and after that stretched. Then the wool was shaved, and the skin was cut in small bands, which are then softened, then woven in, attached, and winded up in balls. For making “opanak” beef’s skin can also be used. This skin was wetted, of which it folded, and then it was put in cast after which one could make “opanak” from it. Depending for which time of the year “opanak” is made, depends which skin will be used for its production. For making of “opanak” for the summer Montenegrin uses salted skin, and for all other seasons of the year he will use the unsalted skin.

Pasamage are just another kind of easy shoes or let’s say slippers in traditional Montenegrin folk costume.

Slippers or “nanule”(wooden slippers) are the footwear of oriental origin which have a wooden sole, and on top they have a leather band in which the foot goes in.

Citizen Costume

Garment

Shirts were made from expensive material and most often they were decorated with lace. They were usually made of flax, silk, damask, cotton etc. and as traditional ones they were decorated with lace and embroidery.

Citizen skirt was the item which was worn from waist to the feet. That is the clothing item which wore women in everyday use and for making of those skirts they usually used very expensive materials: heavy fabric, “kaliman”, velvet, damask and many others. Mostly they wore black skirts though there could be found some in red, green, blue and white color. Sometimes skirts were made from the same material as the upper part of the clothes so such clothing items were considered to be a set.

Karpeta was the kind of female clothing item which represented both skirt and a sleeveless dress. Depending on what is the purpose of the “karpeta” it was made of silk, wool, kaliman and many other materials, and it could be found in various colors.

Citizen belt was most often made of silk and flax. These belts were most often decorated with nicely made embroidery.

Apron was also a part of the citizen costume and was most often made of flax, “tela”, silk, and muslin. Aprons were worn over the dress or skirt and they were tied around the waist, and they were somewhat shorter than the clothes over which they were worn.

Citizen “kamizola” we can find as very simple but also as very luxuriously made ones. They were decorated with additional sewing, buttons or some silver or golden threads. What is characteristic for kamizola is that it was usually made without sleeves.

Vest is an upper clothing item and it was made of various materials, usually brocade. The vest was made in such a way that it always should be pressed against the body in order for it to accent the female bust.

Caftan is a kind of a long upper dress which is made without the lining. Of materials for its sewing most often hard cloth and damask were used, and considering the fact that it was very rarely used and that there are very few records about it we can say that that clothing item could have only women from the higher social classes.

Dress was usually simply cut with pretty raised waist. Women wore dress during the whole year, and the dresses were made from various materials and in various colors. Very often the dresses were decorated with silver lace, golden embroidery or silver cords which made them very lavish.

Footwear

Socks were made of various materials, depending on the occasion for which they were made. If they were made for everyday use then they were made of wool and cotton, while if they were made for some solemn occasion then they were made of “bombaz”, silk, “spinada” etc. Most often they could be found in white, black, green and violet color.

Shoes (crevlje) are a kind of shoes which was considered to be citizen footwear, though it was not rare that they were found in traditional folk costume.

Slippers (mule) are a kind of an easy footwear in which heal was uncovered, and because of that those slippers were considered to be house footwear. These slippers in which the spirit of orient could be sensed were made of leather, fur, and brocade and these slippers had only women from higher social classes.

The clothes in women and girls is not different, and whether, a female person is a girl or a women could be concluded by what she is wearing on her head, as well as by the way in which she is making her hair. Earlier girls wore “ruba” which they tied below the chin. Sometimes girls wrapped the entire neck and even mouth. Somewhat later in XVIII century in Montenegro women also started wearing hat which was similar to male hat with a difference that in stead of half circle and Prince’s hornbeam it has a circle of several lines of golden embroidery, and in the middle of the circle there is a star. Over the hat they wore a kerchief; kerchief was worn because in the past in Montenegro a girl had to hide her hair which was usually braided in a wreath. When a girl marries she takes off the hat, and starts arranging her hair differently that it was the case while she was a girl. And what is characteristic Montenegrin women during the night wrapped their hair with a short kerchief in order to keep their hair well arranged.

Jewelry

As for the jewelry women had buttons, belt, buckle, hairpins, needle, earrings, medallion, ring, wedding ring, gloves, broche, and a rosary. As Montenegro developed the jewelry was not just bought at local jeweler, but people went in other areas to buy the jewelry. The jewelry was always made, bought and given to close people, and that was the case in the Old Montenegro. That characteristic was withheld until today in our areas so the family jewelry is preserved as the greatest preciousness.

Decorative details

Decorative details were sleeves, collar and lower ends of sleeves. Sleeves were made of silk and of fine velvet. They covered hands, and were extremely decorated. The collar was made of silk and velvet. It was worn in solemn occasions because of the fact that it was always made of expensive materials. It was usually worn with dresses and shirts. The ends of the sleeves are decorative details which were placed around the sleeves, and they were made of “kambrada” and most often of lace. The decorations around hands, or the ends of the sleeves could be found in various sizes depending in whether they were places as decoration on the sleeves of the shirts or on some other clothing item.

Male Costume

Male folk garment

If we start by the order of dressing in first place would come knee socks. Knee socks are a kind of socks which strongly tighten the calves. For making of these socks a great skill is needed, and what needs to be pointed out is that no matter the experience and years for putting on of the knee socks it takes a lot of time. Knee socks need to be tightened strongly in order for man’s easier and safer movement, which was extremely important for Montenegrins who moved around the stony Montenegro. Except the knee socks there were the so called bjecve which had a slit on the side, and their rims were hemmed with red or dark blue coarse cloth.

Pants were dresses immediately after the knee socks and they should overlap one part of the knee socks. Very often pants and knee socks were tied with a cord so that they wouldn’t separate, and for that people made special hooks on the knee socks. Pants in ordinary Montenegrins were white and they were made of coarse linen and water proof cloth (coja). Pants near the waist were wide, while below the knees they were shrunk. Montenegrins had a belt in which there was a wreath through which a rope went through in order for the pants to be tied around the waist.

Male shirt had a collar and a slit on the chest which was closed with buttons. The shirt was drawn in the pants and most often it was a white shirt) rarely could you find a Montenegrin in a colorful shirt). The shirt was an obligatory part of the Montenegrin male costume and at the festivities it was always tied. Except the shirt male folk costume, its upper part, was made of “gunj” (long peasant jacket). Gunj had short tassels which on the chest were moved apart. Montenegrins wore this short coat whose ends crossed one over the other and it was buttoned with copper buttons. Gunj was replaced with “dolama”(dolman), which has the sleeves below the armpits and up to the fist they are almost opened, so that they can be thrown back. In that way the hand stays solely in the shirt. That was of great importance and very characteristic for Montenegro, because in that way the suites, the folk garment could be made for all seasons. When it was summer they didn’t use th sleeves of dolmans, but they would throw the sleeves behind the back, and when it was winter, Montenegrins would put on the sleeves of dolmans. A dolman can usually be found in Montenegro in green color, and it is made of coarse linen or waterproof cloth (coja). The ends of the dolman (sleeves and the corners and tassels) are decorated with dark red color.

Below gunj they wore “dzemadan”, which was made of red coarse linen and was usually embroidered with on sides with some cotton or silk braids of black or golden color. That is a vest with tassels which came one over the others, and it was buttoned with four buttons (made of metal) and with black knots made of silk rope. Dzemadan was worn over the chest, and it went all over to the throat. The rims of dzemadan on tassels are also decorated with knots or with golden embroidery.

Dzemadan was sometimes replaced with “jecerma”, which did not have tassels or overlapping, and the slit on the chest was flat. On both sides of “jecerma” there were two rows of buttons (black silk ones) which are just a decoration. Below the buttons there are several hooks and knots which are used for buttoning of jecerma to the middle from below. These hooks and knots were usually the only thing used for buttoning of jecerma, because Montenegrins left their chest uncovered. Over gunj went “jelek”(sleeveless embroidered jacket).

Jelek was made of the coarse material and was decorated with rope or with golden embroidery. That is an upper clothing item, a lot like a coat without the sleeves. In front it is very open, and what is characteristic for it is that it was never buttoned.

Jelek was sometimes replaced with “toke” (silver plates), which have the same shape as jelek, but on the front side they have metal, most often silver plates. “Toke” are tied in difference to jelek and they are very close to body, and as they are made of metal they remind on armor, which was their usage in former Montenegro.

Male folk footwear

Opanci – were the footwear which was most often worn in Montenegro. They are made of beef’s skin. The ends of “opanci” are very low, and they do not have heals, while their front part is edged, and the peak of “opanci” is very tough. The front part of “opanci” is woven into with a “cord”, thin threads of goat’s skin, which was laid transversally, from one end of “opanak” to the other. Down the length of “opanak” and along its middle three or four rows were woven which end in loops, and through them “opanak” was attached to leg. So with this part only a half of the foot was covered, because of which “opanak’ has to be firmly attached to leg. Therefore a small belt is made also from cord with which you surround the foot and with which you bind the front art with the lateral sides of “opanak”. In order for “opanak” to be softer and more comfortable Montenegrins have put inside a insole,, which was extremely significant when “opanak” is already worn or when the skin of “opanak” is already thin. The cord, the material which is used for making “opanak”, was made by Montenegrins themselves. Goat’s skin was dried and after that stretched. Then the wool was shaved, and the skin was cut in small bands, which are then softened, then woven in, attached, and winded up in balls. For making “opanak” beef’s skin can also be used. This skin was wetted, of which it folded, and then it was put in cast after which one could make “opanak” from it. Depending for which time of the year “opanak” is made, depends which skin will be used for its production. For making of “opanak” for the summer Montenegrin uses salted skin, and for all other seasons of the year he will use the unsalted skin.

When a Montenegrin gets dressed and puts his shoes on then he puts his belt. Simple Montenegrin belt is woven from wool and it has vertical stripes – usually they are black, yellow, blue, and usually on the surface which is red or dark green. The belts of Montenegrins are 3 to 4 meters long and their width is up to 15 cm. With this kind of a belt Montenegrins wrap themselves around, and then they put around “silav” so that across it they could wrap around the belt completely. Silav is something like soft leather small suitcase of several layers which have separate spaces in which Montenegrins places various things. Montenegrins stuck usually one or two guns or revolvers, and a big knife. They also had “arabija” there – a metal bat whit which they stuck (filled) the gun and cleaned its barrel. In special compartments for which we said that they are found in silav one could find handkerchief, wallet, or a gag with money.

After a Montenegrin had put on his belt and stuck his weapon, and money behind the belt his costume is being completed with a hat. Montenegrin hat has a flat bottom and a flat brim, and it is 8 cm wide. It is made of red or dark red coarse material and it is twice as much deeper that the brim of the hat, but the ends of the hat are twisted and in that way we get the double brim. On the upper surface of hat, that is, on the circle there is golden embroidery. On one side we have an arc with three stripes, of which the middle one is made of three lines from brim to brim, and on both sides of the hat there two more lines and two more lines together. That gives us a number of totally 5 stripes. In that arc HI is embroidered which actually means “Nikola I” (the king of Montenegro). The brim is paneled with thin silk and the ends go over into the mentioned circle a bit. The interior of the hat is lined and it is usually of white color, though on some Montenegrin hats lines of other colors can be found. The only thing that is for sure is that the lining in the interior of the hat is never in colors. Montenegrin hat does not stand firmly on head. When the wind is strong, and in certain parts of Montenegro that is the case, Montenegrin puts a kerchief over the hat and ties it. It is not a rare case that in the past when the winter is severe and when it is a bad weather, a Montenegrin takes off his belt and ties it around his head, which a resembled a lot to tying of the Turkish “calma” (turban).

Cut Procedures

Basic procedures for making clothes and other materials relevant for home are: spinning, weaving, knitting, coloring, embroidery and lace making.

Spinning – is completely same for wool, flax, hemp, brnestrina and silk. Spinning is done with the aid of two devices: with the aid of “preslica” (SPINNING WHEEL), and with the aid of “vreteno” (SPINDLE). There are various shapes of spinning wheels, and in Montenegro the most often ones are in the shape of a ball and in the shape of a spear. The woman who is spinning spins in that way that she holds the spinning wheel on her belt usually below the left armpit, on which the thread is found, and she hold the spinning wheel with elbow, while the spindle is found in her right arm. With the fingers of her left arm she pulls out the thread, stretching it to the thickness which she needs, and during that, from time to time she wets her fingers so that the fiber could tighten and twist better.

Weaving – is one of the oldest ways of production of fibers with mutual intertwining. Research data indicate us the fact that the skill of weaving was familiar to old Balkan and antique people, as well as to Slavs in the period when they settled Balkan Peninsula. In Montenegro women wove heavy cloth, linens, bags, saddlebags, table cloths,, milieus, rugs, various kinds of covers etc. There is a great number of techniques of weaving, and the most present one here is the horizontal one.

Knitting – Wool is a material which most often is used in knitting. Items made of wool are very warm and they were extremely significant for the North of Montenegro where the winters are severe. Tabards, sweaters, wool socks, shawls, gloves etc are usually knitted. Usually one needle is used for knitting though sometimes even 5 needles can be used for knitting.

Coloring – For dying (coloring) in the past people did not use the present day products. The color was obtained from various kinds of plants, from their fruits and roots. In Montenegro women mostly used, and by that also colored wool. Montenegrin women obtained black color most often by cooking of the bark and the leaf of chestnut or European ash, or on the other hand by cooking of the skin of a pomegranate. Yellow color was also obtained from the skin of the pomegranate, or from a wild apple, dark green was obtained by cooking of young leaves of mulberry tree or with mixing of black and yellow, they obtained brown color from the chestnut bark or from the leaves of the European ash, from which they also got the dark blue color. In the process of dying (coloring), depending on which color the women wanted to get, she added ashes, lampblack, soot etc.

Embroidery – was the most beautiful and most often used way of decoration in old Montenegro. it was made on the existing surface with various stings with wool, silk and cotton thread, and pretty often because of the influence of Islam it was also stung with golden and silver threads. With threads of various colors they decorated the cloths, covers, pillows, and many other items for house, as well as garment.

Lace Making – During the make up of the lace one uses cotton and silk threads and in Montenegro lace was mostly made in the coast. Among the most beautiful laces is the lace made in Boka with so – called white embroidery which is also known under the name lace from Dobrota. The oldest item of Dobrota lace which is preserved, and which today is being used as altar cloths, dates from the XVI century, while the majority of them, which are preserved, date from the XVIII century.

Materials

The most important material in Montenegro definitely was wool. The sheep are fleeced once or twice a year, and they are fleeced from the head towards the tale, because it is necessary that the fleece remains in one piece. Fleecing of sheep was a male’s task, and making of the wool was a female part of the job. The fleece has to be washed from the dirt, in that way that it is first dipped and rinsed in lukewarm water, and it was usually done on the stream or on the river. Wools of long and soft threads are the ones of best quality and they were used for making of thinner and finer fabric, while from worse wool they made bags, cloaks, sacks etc. The wool then had to be combed, with special combs which have metal cogs and which are always used in pair. During the combing the wool softness and that is how it is being prepared for spinning.

Goat’s hair (kostrijet) was also used for making close. It is processed in a way which is very similar to the processing of wool, with the fact that goat’s hair is neither washed nor combed with combs, it was just spread on some flat surface and beaten with some regular rod or a stick which was curved in an arch. Considering the fact that goat’s hair is short and sharp and as such was very resistant to damp, goat’s hair was used most often for making of coarse textile: cloaks, bags, sacks, but it was also very often mixed with wool and then from that mixture clothes was made.

Hemp and flax – are one year greenish plants and were used for making of strong coarse linen for clothes and other necessities for the house. Hemp and flax are most characteristic for the coast, and in Rijeka district, and in somewhat lower degree in Niksic parish, Drobnjaci, Vasojevici and Piva. Hemp and flax are sown early in the spring, and they ripen in the summer when the harvest starts. The stalks are pulled out together with the root which is then being cut as well as the flowers and the seed. Then they are being tied in bales, and then in stacks and are left for 10 days to dry. Then the seed is separated in that way that the stacks are beaten on a stone plaque with a mallet, and the seed is being preserved for the next year. Then you need to separate the fiber part of the plant, and it was done in that way that the stalk was dipped in the water, usually in the shallow part of the river or stream. After that, stacks are taken out from the water, untied, and rinsed, and then all of that was dried on the sun. Then it is needed for the stalks to be broken and free the fiber of the woody parts, which was done by using numerous utensils, most often “stupa”(MORTAR) or “trlica”(HEMP-BREAK) With incessant batting the stacks broke, and the wooden part would fall off, so the useful fiber stayed in the hand. The fibers made in that way were combed and classified by quality by the choice of the housewife. The fibers picked and cleaned in this way were ready for spinning.

Spanish broom – is characteristic for the coast of Montenegro and it grows only in places which are protected from the tempest. Here it is mostly found on the territory of Bar, Sutomore, and Kotor. In the branches of this plant there is a fiber which is firm and suitable for making canvas, as well as of fishing nets and ropes. Spanish broom is cut during July and is tied in small stacks, and then it is dipped in the sea and covered with stones where it has to stay for a month. Softened stalks are after that rubbed over the coarse stone or are batted with stone. The woody part of the branch remains unbroken, and the fiber is carefully separated from the stalk. The fiber which you get usually was called wool, then it was combed and assembled in bales or was immediately used for spinning.

Silk – was mostly imported even though there are some records that the silk was produced in Montenegro, more over in Podgorica, Bar, and Ulcinj, that is, in those places where it was used for making clothes. People most often bought cocoons of the silk bug, and the mulberry three was most often planted close to the house and it was used for raising bugs. In the spring the seed was separated and those eggs were kept in the cloths in chests until the following spring. Then the eggs were taken out and were spread on another cloth near the hearth, until the larvas don’t come out. Caterpillars were fed with young leaves of mulberry tree until they do not become cocoons. The equal number of cocoons of males and females was separated in order to get the seed for rising of silk bugs next year. From them then comes out a butterfly, which would die immediately after it poses the seed. Other cocoons were the ones which were processed for rope. They are dipped in a dish with warm water and they are carefully stirred, and when the cocoon softens the silk is carefully being taken out. The fiber which they got was then winded up in balls and then they were left to get dried. Depending on the purpose for which the silk is intended for, women took care whether they will take out thinner or thicker threads, as well as of the fact whether the silk will be spin, because the silk which was used for tying was not spin.