Traditional attire in the Kočevska region from the 17th century
The first description of Gottscheers’ clothing practices can be found in Valvasor’s “The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola” from 1689. Women wore a full-length dress shirt that reached to the ankles and a long sleeveless vest. Men wore shirts, linen pants, a jacket and black wide-brimmed hats. The garments were made from locally produced materials, particularly canvas, wool and leather.
Maria Lackner Kundegraber, the Austrian ethnologist, believed that some of the medieval elements and motifs brought by the Gottscheers from East Carinthia and South Tyrol in the 14th century were preserved in the traditional festive female attire of Gottscheers until the 20th century. The dress shirt cut is supposed to originate from the Gothic period, where the sleeves are transversely folded in medieval style, while the vest is supposed to be a remnant of Baroque fashion.
Changes occurring at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries
The Gottscheer men stopped wearing their traditional attire in the 19th century, when they took on the fashion trends they picked up while peddling in the Austro-Hungarian lands. The women who stayed at home, however, stopped wearing it in the early 20th century.
In his work, The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in Word and Picture (Die österreichisch-ungarische Monarchie in Wort und Bild) (published in 1891), Karl J. Schröer recorded the following observations on clothing practices of Gottscheers: “Men usually return home on summer solstice (on Midsummer Eve). In Gottschee region, this is called Schumitten. It is then that joyous cries resound and we are witness to an unusual scene, namely men that are at times clad in the most fashionable clothes with rings on their hands and golden pocketwatch chains who stand alongside women wearing the attire from past centuries that gives the impression of an attire worn in nunneries and has a particularly peculiar air to it when women throng the place. A white scarf lightly wrapped around the head, a long sleeveless vest made of cloth that is open in front. Underneath it a plaited shirt with a red belt. Red socks and black shoes.” Schröer in Kropej Telban and Slavec Gradišnik 2018: 83).
A special occasions attire
Since the 20th century, the Gottscheers wore the traditional attire only on special occasions such as the 600thAnniversary of settlement to Gottschee region in 1930. Nowadays we can mostly see it at the events of the Gottscheer societies, e.g. Gottscheer Kulturwoche in Klagenfurt, Gottscheer Volksfest in New York, etc. In 2005, the Gottscheer people sewed several clothes in the Črmošnjiško-Poljanska valley and roused interest in the old costume in Slovenia. Members of the Folklore Group of the Society of Native Gottschee Settlers from Občice (Gottscheer Altsiedler Verein) wear it during their performances.
A “brand new” Gottscheer attire
It is interesting that in 1935 Gottscheers wanted to emphasise their ethnic peculiarity also by introducing a new female attire following the Austrian model. It characteristically featured a checkered skirt, a “dirndl blouse” with a wide plaited collar, a dark apron and a knit triangle-shaped mantle. The capes (Gottscheer: Tiachle) were knitted and embroidered by Gottscheer women themselves. They are reminiscent of the traditional Hueder – a cape that Gottscheer women wore instead of a coat. You can see Tiachle in the online exhibition about the inhabitants of Gottschee in the context of the Showcases of Memory exhibition.
– Schröer, Karl J. in Kropej Telban, Monika in Slavec Gradišnik, Ingrid (ur.). 2018. Avstro-ogrska monarhija v besedi in podobi: Slovenci. 2, Kranjska, Primorje. Ljubljana: Založba ZRC.
– Moric, Anja. 2018. Vitrine spomina: katalog k razstavi o prebivalcih Kočevske = Showcases of memory: catalogue of the exhibition on the inhabitants of the gottschee area = Vitrinen des Gedenkens: Katalog zur Ausstellung von den Einwohnern des Gottschee-Lande. Stara Cerkev: Zavod Putscherle, center za raziskovanje, kulturo in ohranjanje kulturne dediščine.
– Kundegraber, Maria. 1991. Razvoj kočevske noše: razstava v Likovnem salonu Kočevje in Slovenskem šolskem muzeju v Ljubljani, Kočevje in Ljubljana, februar – marec 1991. Kočevje: Muzej.
– Hacquet, Baltazar. 1801-. Abbildung und Beschreibung der südwest- und östlichen Wenden, Illyrer und Slaven: deren geographische Ausbreitung von dem adriatischen Meere bis an den Ponto, deren Sitten, Gebräuche, Handthierung, Gewerbe, Religion u. s. w. nach einer zehnjährigen Reise und vierzigjährigem Aufenthalte in jenen Gegenden. Leipzig: im Industrie-Comptoir.
Do you want to learn more about the wider Kočevska (Gottschee) area? Read also: A bow to Nature: The Krokar Primeval Forest.