Traditional folk costumes

20 Oct 2017

Lithuania prides itself on its folk dresses and costumes, which vary in subtle ways in each of the country’s four regions.

Once upon a time, Lithuanian peasants were the best dressed in Europe. The quality of the flax was all-important, and as for the handiwork, every woman had ambitions to become a famous weaver.
These days, you’re unlikely to bump into someone in traditional costume unless you’re at a folk music festival, but in Vilnius it may be on show at the National Museum of Lithuania or next door at the Museum of Applied Arts and Design.
Dyes using plant pigments made the colours, and highly decorative patterns emerged in the weaving. In winter, rough and simply woven matted cloth was worn for outer garments. Knitting was limited to just mittens and socks.
Styles varied between Lithuania’s four ethnographic regions. But the basics were common to all: for women, two or more skirts, a long shirt, apron, vest and shoes. Optional accessories included a sash, scarf, shoulder kerchief, beads, napkins and headdress. Men wore rider-style outfits with boots and a sash.

Up in the ‘highlands’, costumes were stylistically the most archaic of the regions. Women’s shirts were long with shoulder tabs and red ornamentation, the sleeves decorative. Long linen skirts were usually white with a red border, but the more festive woollen skirts had four colours, green and red being dominant with small amounts of yellow and purple.


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