The national dress, together with the embroidery with which it is decorated, is the most important element of the Subcarpathian Rusyn folk culture which has been preserved. The old costume is still worn in most of the villages along the Tysa River and its tributaries, in the Marmarosh area, in the Turya valley and all over Verkhovyna. Only comparatively slowly is it being pushed into the background by ordinary European clothing. The persistence of the national dress may be attributed not so much to the backwardness of the country but to the depth of the national feeling. Whether under the rule of Hungarians, Czecha, Poles, Rumanians or Russians to Ukrainians their national dress is sort of ensign. And this shows a healthy instinct. The national costume is an efficient protection against spiritual absorption by foreign elements. And if after centuries of every type of serfdom the Subcarpathian Rusyns has not forgotten his native language and his aspirations towards freedom from foreign domination he must thank for this the national dress of his forefathers.

The national costume is most vivid in the regions where the local art generally is most developed, that is amongst the Hutsuls. The greatest freedom from Hungarian influence naturally is to be found in the Verkhovyna and in the Turya valley, while the greatest variety is to be found in the villages in the district of Marmarosh.

In the Hutsul region the people wear a blouse similar to an old-fashioned type worn in Eastern Ukraine with a stiff, stand-up collar, the koshulya. The blouse is worn over the trousers and fastened with a woven woolen belt of different colors tied on the left side. The collar, breast and facings are embroidered with cotton or wool as is also the lower border of the blouse and in certain districts, as for example in Yasinya, the sleeves also in thin stripes just below the shoulders All these embroideries are connected by a general dark pattern.

In the warm weather the Hutsul wears cloth trousers (gati) over which he puts on in cold weather dark blue or dark red trousers of wool. On his feet he wears either high top boots or postoly, a kind of sandals with pointed toes which consist of a piece of thick tanned leather drawn together by a neatly arranged strap. These shoes are worn over woven woolen socks, white, black and sometimes red in color with a colored pattern at the top. The shoes are fastened to the feet by black threads of goats' hair.

Mens postoly without heels - Dovhe

The finest features in the dress of the Hutsuls are a broad leather belt with several buckles (cheres) and a short decorated sleeveless garment. One of these belts, made in Yasinya, is illustrated on page 108 bottom.

Leather belt - Yasinya

It is usually dark red in color and ornamented with stamped patterns and metal insertions. It serves as a pocket into which are thrust a knife, pipe, tobacco pouch, etc., and serves as a protection for the stomach when working with a boat hook and long oars on the heavy rafts. The garment mentioned above is made of lambskin of the finest quality and is lined with fur. It is always white and soft like fine leather and is embroidered in different colors and cleverly decorated with little leather straps of different hues, loops of lace and pierced metal rings. To the collar on both sides there is sewn a thin white cord with green and red tassels which is thrown back and hangs behind. In summer this garment is worn both by the men and the women when they wish to appear in their best clothes. In the cold weather they wear short coats with long sleeves made of thick sheep's wool.

The wallets they carry are made of wool, spun at home and checkered, and take the form of string purses or of a double sack which is carried over the shoulder. They may be found more to the west (pages 102 and 109)

The traditional head-dress is not so frequently found among the Hutsuls. It consists of a winter cap with flap of fur. It is either tied under the chin or projects at the top. It may still he found in Bohdan. In other places one sees the less picturesque circular shlyk. It is not every old man who wears long hair down to his shoulders.

The dress of the young Hutsul women has been preserved more fully. The younger girls still dress their hair beautifully and do not cover their heads even in the hot weather. They divide their hair at the crown smoothing it carefully and braiding it into two plaits to which they affix ribbons of different colors. In wet weather they cover their heads with a cloth. The married women are allowed to wear a cloth regularly, having twisted their plaits around their heads in the form of a wreath. This is a symbol of the loss of their freedom. At the ceremony of the crowning of the bride both she and the bridegroom wear wreaths made out of the periwinkle plant in the form of a cap, in accordance with ancient tradition. These wreaths are decorated in different ways; in Yasinya with little paper flowers of bright colors, green leaves and bright beads. The whole is covered with gold tinsel and attached to the hair by red woolen threads.

The more simple women's dress consists of a long linen blouse reaching almost down to the ankles, gathered in a little around the neck and at the sleeves, with rich embroidery on the breast a little lower than the shoulder and wider than those worn by the men. Instead of a skirt they wear two woven woolen aprons (zapasky) illustrated on page 108, top. The rest of the clothing is the same as that of the men: stockings, leather coats and a pelisse in winter. The blouse is fastened with a narrow ribbon in front and is held at the waist with an ornamental belt of different colored wools interwoven with golden threads. The aprons (page 84, bottom) are woven of thin wool in close stripes of light and dark red wool relieved by silver and gold threads. The appearance of these aprons is generally the same but they differ in the shade of color used and upon closer inspection slight variations in the woven pattern are visible. They are fastened both in front and back by a long woolen selvedge so that the front part of the apron comes round over the back one. Every village has its own variation, however, for example the bottom part of the blouse may show more or less from under the aprons. -Reference must be made to the woven winter gloves which are carefully decorated on both sides with a multicolored design and also to the more beautiful neck ornaments of glass beads which are worn by the girls and women. The pattern for the neck-ornaments has the same character as that on the embroideries (plate II). They are usually about two inches in width.

Woven stripe for ornamenting a Kirghiz kibitka

Of course, this is not all that may be said regarding the costume of the Hutsuls. From Velykiy Bochkiv to Yasinya there is a whole scale of local fashions. The garments of the women vary in design, choice of colors, dimensions and the technique in sewing. The narrowest in size are found in Bohdan, those of Rakhiv and Kvasy are wider, while the widest of all are to be seen in Yasinya. Nevertheless in the enormous village of Yasinya, which is really a congeries of smaller ones stretching for more than twelve miles along the Tysa, the style of embroidery changes with each part of the village. In some places the sleeves of the women's shirts are embroidered all over, producing a splendid effect, (page 103 and plate III). The style of the men's dress varies as well. However, these details are of secondary interest.

Womens blouse - Rosushka

In moving westwards along the Tysa one is struck by the remarkable character of the dress to be found there, recalling that of the dwellers of the Hungarian plains, with short blouses beneath which can be seen the naked body above the belt. This paradoxical and obviously borrowed costume is also worn by the men in the neighborhood of Irshava and Dovhe. The shirt worn by the women does not really differ much from the Hutsul one. The difference lies in the fact that the seam is at the back as may be seen in the shirts from Beraznyk, illustrated on page 106. In front at the collar a small "front" is sewn in thick folds. The sleeves are also covered with different kinds of stitches which are made directly on the material of the shirt and in a different style for girls and women. The material is spun at home and so closely woven that no canvas is necessary in embroidering. The embroideries often occupy as much as three-quarters of the sleeve.

In the district of Marmarosh an apron is worn instead of a skirt. It is sewn in folds on to the belt. The bottom of the blouse is visible beneath it and it is tied in front in the fashion shown on page 117. Various bought materials are used in these aprons. In Volovets, for example, black woolen woven material is preferred and this is also used for the cloth which is worn over the head (page 111,left). This black color also predominates in other places but variegated colors are more the fashion in the south of Marmarosh, where silks are also worn. Usually stripes of ribbon are sewn on them and a belt is worn on the outside, (pages 114 and 117). Beautiful aprons are found in the district of Dovhe. They are black and ornamented with colored flowers and leaves. Here the women wear long woolen belts wound several times around the waist.

Girls from Nizhne Selyshche

Instead of the kozhushok of the Hutsuls a short type of waist coat is worn in Marmorosh. It is bordered in a toothed pattern, with ribbons and tape (pages 108, top and 115, left). The rich village women wear waistcoats of red leather bordered with lambswool on which are sewn flowers, cord, tassels and metal buttons, (pages 112 and 113). This is an inheritance from the earlier Subcarpathian Rusyn upper class. A common article of clothing both in summer and winter is a short woolen coat, usually white in color, with the collar, the bottom of the sleeves and the pockets covered with dark blue cloth. In summer the men do not use the sleeves but throw their coats over one shoulder.

The women and girls love to wear necklaces - glass ones around the neck and others of different dimensions and colors on the breast. The method of dressing the hair is traditional. The young girls part their hair exactly at the top of the head and arrange it at each side lower down so that it is slightly waved while they braid it from the temples in two plaits which they join at the back with a long silk ribbon, further weaving pieces of dark wool into the plaits (page 115, right). In the summer they adorn their hair with wreaths made from periwinkle or with bunches of artificial flowers (page 114) and pierced pieces of money. These ornaments, when they serve as an addition to the wreaths take the form of bouquets hanging from the temples almost as far as the shoulders. These bouquets may contain paper roses, heavy beads, tinsel stars, etc. The wreaths are made of the same materials: garlands with rows of glass beads of jet, or resembling a cap made out of feathers and ribbons of the type shown on pages 109, 115 and 116. All the girls wear wreaths at marriage and the head-dress of a bride is even more complicated.

In the region west of Marmarosh, along the valley of the Borshava River, as far as Irshava to the south, wreaths are not worn but the plaits are beautifully tied behind with a ribbon. Home-made fringed bands of red, blue, white and green wool are woven into the plaits. The married women, however, still wear the traditional cap, which is small and black and decorated with ruby-colored ribbons and embroidery. A black or variegated cloth is worn over the cap. In this region the girl wears a periwinkle wreath on the occasion of her marriage only and removes it after the ceremony.

After the wedding feast old women crown her with the wreath of marriage. In a more pretentious style the plaits are arranged round the head so that the ends are joined over the forehead and visible from the sides (page 113).

In summer the men wear wide brimmed felt hats with low crowns, decorated with flowers. In winter a hat of grey lambskin is worn and in places a high fur cap.

On their feet the women usually wear high boots as well as low ones. More to the north they also wear over their stockings or leg-wrappings the kind of footwear shown on page 107. In going through the mud they are obliged, so as not to soil their stockings, to walk on their toes and this has affected the local gait. The more stylish villagers wear red leather boots when on holiday. The women wear high boots more frequently than do the men.

The most curious of all is the warm clothing which is found all over Marmarosh as well as in many other places of Subcarpathian Rus'. It is the gunya and is worn by men and women alike. It resembles somewhat the short Caucasian cloak and is made of homespun wool, white, grey or black in color, without a collar and ornamented around the neck with red cloth and fastened with a large woolen knot. In Marmarosh it is also frequently bordered with white cloth. The sleeves are long although some types exist with no sleeves at all. It is woven of lambswool and in such a way that one side is smooth and the other side covered with tufts so that it resembles the surface of a fleece. In the villages of Marmarosh these cloaks are usually white and do not reach below the knee. Along the Borshava River the cloaks are black and smooth all over. Consequently the inhabitants of the region are referred to as "Blacks." This smooth type of cloak is known as the petek and is worn in the villages along the Tereshva and Rika rivers and among the Hutsuls. In the Verkhovyna the petek is of a special type; shorter in front and with extremely long sleeves.

In moving northwards from Marmarosh to the Verkhovyna we reach the region inhabited by the Carpathian Lemky. Here the women everywhere wear short blouses and broad skirts. An apron is fastened above the skirt and both of them are usually made of bought material of different colors, more commonly black and dark blue. Only farther towards Uzhok does the village woman go about simply dressed wearing no bought material and in this case her skirt is of homespun hemp ornamented at the bottom with red and dark blue threads and a special kind of home-made lace (page 94., top).

The blouses of the Lemky, and of the girls in the Verkhovyna generally, are ornamented more modestly than the long ones in Marmarosh but they are not less elegant. There is no broad ornamentation covering as much as two thirds of the blouse. Instead one horizontal band stretches across it a little below the shoulder and the facing is ornamented with a special design. A "front" is stitched in folds in a particular manner which forms a good background for a necklace, (page 121). The designs on the breast and the cuffs are often extraordinarily delicate. Sometimes jewelry is sewn on thick and heavy plush resulting in a most beautiful effect. The breast pieces shown on page 120 and in plate IV serve to illustrate the fine work done by the people of the Verkhovyna. Two needles are used at once to sew them and the cuffs, one of which draws the thread through the material while the other, which is finer, serves to make a checkered pattern out of the stitches.

The woman's blouse preserves the same character throughout the whole of the Verkhovyna. In the different villages there are only slight variations in fashion and design. The quality of the weaving also varies. In the region of Uzhok and in the villages on the Polish frontier the weaving is of a coarser quality. The cloth becomes better as we approach Volovets. In these regions the girls who are to be married and the young married women prefer bought cotton fabrics with a fairly large web so that they are able to count the threads when embroidering.

The women in the Verkhovyna wear headcloths of different colors and in places caps. A betrothed Lemko girl goes to church both in summer and winter with her head uncovered, her hair loose or carefully arranged around her head. But from Volove to Volovets the girls never leave their cottages without a cloth over the head, which is invariably white in color. After being married they at once put on two head coverings, one small one which is red or black and over that another one, larger, which may be of any color and is tied under the chin. In both cases two plaits are braided and in each of them a strip of red wool is entwined, the ends of which are united in the form of a tassel. In the region of Uzhok, where the long blouse has been preserved to some extent, the women wear a woven belt of coarse red and green wool and fastened to it at the back some of their hair-ribbons in the form of a tassel.

In this region on being married they wear a cap of white bought cloth (page 118) which becomes more narrow at the top and is fastened at the back with one or two long embroidered ribbons. The crown is adorned with pieces of colored cloth or with a silk ribbon into which has been woven colored flowers or with gold and silver lace. An original type of cap is found in the neighborhood of Volovets. It is white in color with a bunch of black ribbons at the back, oval and almost flat in shape and woven in an old-fashioned style. This odd cap is only worn on two occasions and on each of them it is placed on the head by the hands of a priest; once in the church at marriage and the second time at death in the coffin.

Caps from left to right and top to bottom: Bystra, Verkhovyna, Poroshkiv, Lyubna, Ushok, Uzhok, Volovets

The men's blouses in the Verkhovyna are generally slightly different from those to be found in Marmarosh. The homespun material is more coarse and they are ornamented on the collar, breast and cuffs, more usually with simple black threads in the form of a cross. All the villagers wear wide summer gati which are fastened with a strap. In the neighborhood of Volovets the gati are fringed. In the winter they wear kholoshni. Their warm winter caps are usually known as kolpaky and vary considerably in type. They are more or less round in form and bordered with fur. Occasionally they are provided with ear muffs and a woolen tassel at the crown. Their outer clothing, both for men and women, consists everywhere of the same type of vuyosh which is worn in the plain. It is made of rough homespun material , grey or white, trimmed with dark blue or black bought cloth. In winter the sleeveless gunya is popular throughout all the district of Uzhok and southwards along the rivers Uzh and Turya. It is not common among the Boyky. The Lemky have sustained for it the long-sleeved petek. On their feet they wear openwork stockings, linen wrappings, as well as boots.

In the Turya valley the town dress is rapidly taking the place of the national costume and this is particularly to be regretted as the details of the Turyan dress constitute an artistic rarity. The short blouse of the women is more attractive, perhaps through its having a more modest and dignified style than that found in the Verkhovyna. It is cut differently. There is a fine border not completely around the collar but only at the front and the back while the shoulders are left unornamented and the sleeves are sewn in a way that the embroidered breast piece stretches across them. The neckline is cut either round or square with a short opening at the front either laced or fastened with buttons. On the breasts around this opening are several strips of very fine embroidery and also a narrow strip around the neck. Some the older types of blouses have sleeves additionally ornamented with a vertical strip of embroidery, (plate V).

The skirts are full with heavy folds. Until some time ago such skirts made of homespun were still worn secured with a belt which was embroidered in different colors. Nowadays bought material is used for skirts, breast pieces and sleeved bodices.

The girls dress their hair with a straight parting and wear one plait with a broad ribbon entwined at the bottom of it. When dressed in their best they do not wear a headcloth. The old fashioned caps have still not disappeared in those villages along the Turya River which are some distance from the railway. They are slightly different in form from those found in the Verkhovyna; broad at the top with horns projecting at the sides. In their hair they wear wooden combs which are now giving way to manufactured ones. The cap does not have long ribbons but is adorned with strips of ribbon which are arranged in pairs, sewn at the back above the braids and hang in a fringe. The lower edge is ornamented with red and black thread while other threads ascend to the top in a zigzag and the remainder of the surface is sewn with red, blue and green. Over the cap a kerchief is worn. Fine, fringed cloths are also worn. They are tied in a knot at the waist, having been folded in the form of a triangle, the ends crossing across the breasts in such a way that the fringe hangs over the shoulders. In addition to necklaces black velvet ribbon is also worn.

The breast pieces of the men's blouses are very tastefully embroidered in different colors. When the traditional cloth gati are worn they are fringed. In most places of the Turya the costume is half urban in style.

The dress in the vicinity of important centers like Uzhhorod, Mukachiv, Bereznyk, etc, is largely under the influence of that worn in the towns. In the suburbs of the towns and in whole regions in the southwest having mixed populations one only comes across portions of this national dress.

Peasants sheep-skin kozhushok - Yasinya

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