udv-hsz hsz-csik

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Traditional clothing

Like every ethnic group the Szeklers had their own popular costumes. Most of the elements of the Szekler popular outfit can be found in other Hungarian wears, the only difference might be the larger use of home-woven materials. The main feature of the Szekler national costume is exactly the home handmade attribute, such as home made woven wool, Hessian, linen and also the home manufacturing of different leathers or furs (sheep, cow, and rabbit). The Szekler wear has well defined local characteristics, which makes easy to the people of the same land to recognize each-other.

Szekler Ladies’ wear is composed from a shirt, a large vest or silk vest, large skirt with an apron on it, a jacket or a short fur coat in winter time, Hessian boots and a head scarf.
The most important piece of the clothing is the outer garment, the skirt and the vest. The skirt has a waistband and a velvet ribbon is sewn on the bottom of it. The ribbon can be narrow or a wide. In the eastern parts of Hargita Mountains, in the basins of Gyergyó, Csík and Kászon the skirt has colorful stripes, and it is made of home woven fabric. The stripes on the skirt can differ based on the area, on the age or on the occasion when its owner wears it. The short vest coat can as good be manufactured from the same material as the skirt, plain fabric or velvet, and is decorated with cord or pearls. Above the large skirt there is the pleated apron, made of lint, or of striped or plain silk. In the western part of Hargita the skirt and vest are plain, but the material has woven ornamentation, and they are mostly red, blue or green. The apron is embroidered with floral motifs.  The Szekler ladies were Hessian boots.

The ladies’ outfit is definitely more sensitive on showing the age and the social status. The most obvious is the distinction of age, which is defined by the coloring of the costume. The elder women wear black or other dark color dresses.

Also the hair-do is different by age groups.  The young girls wear their hair in two braids, hanging freely, while the married women knot their hair in buns and cover it with a head scarf which differs in material, color and embroidery, according to the age or the occasion.

Some of the clothing show, besides the age, other situations as well: the “párta” is a typical Hungarian headdress, showing maidenhood, the head scarves state the marriage and motherhood, the so called “engagement scarf” and the ribbons show the bridegroom status of the young men.

Men’s wear is composed from a shirt, vest coat, tight frieze trousers, a jacket, hat and boots. The intervention of the authorities had influenced and changed the Szekler men’s wear according to the military service. The men’s wardrobe was not big; they had only cloth for change. The shirt is made of white linen or canvas. Above the shirt the Szekler man puts on a vest. Usually the vest is black or grey, but on certain regions it can also be white, red or blue. The trousers, which are typical for this nation, are tight and made of milled off-white wool, decorated with lace. The tight trousers are the most known Szekler clothing. The braiding, or “frog and loops”, can be red or black, depending on the social situation or on the place of living. In winter time men wear a frieze jacket, which is also ornamented with lace. On their feet men wear long black boots, while on their head they wear black hats. In summer, especially along Küküllő Rivers, it is customary the boater, a hat made of straws. In cold seasons they wear lamb fur caps, and above the vest they put on a short coat. The long black or grey coats are not seen these days, not even on elder men.

The men’s outfit does not show that much the social or cast difference as the women’s.

The general footwear was the boot. The nobles wore long crimson boots, while the peasants or serfs had a kind of sandals made with a primitive technique of row leather.

The outfit used to be a sort of code of behavior, which had to be followed strictly. Those who broke the rules were severely punished by the community. For instance: the colored lace was a privileged sign of the free Szeklers. Those who were not allowed to wear it got their lace torn off from their cloth. Or those young girls who were of a doubtful morality got their headdress taken off in the front of the church. If a young girl’s ribbon was longer than her skirt meant she wanted to get married soon. The lad who wore his hat on a side was considered too arrogant.

The industrial revolution turns the home made products needless. The industrial goods were cheaper and easier to clean than the traditional ones. Starting with these merchandises the community’s traditional forms ceased to exist. However the Szekler intellectuality feels its responsibility to save and preserve these dieing cultural values.

In our days the traditional Szekler costume is worn on festivities, such as: the first communion, religious confirmation, parade of graduating students, Grape Harvest Feasts, coeval reunions. The Szekler wear is vested with positive values, symbolizing the work, the assiduity, the clearness, the morality of lasting. The early complex sign code ends its existence in the 20th century, loses its symbolic value and the costume serves more and more to express ethnical identity.

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