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Coin Jewellery Traced to Ottoman Empire – Macedonian Textiles……Guest Blogger – Penny Peters

April 22, 2014


costume #19

costume #19

I am again mining the rich trove of Macedonian Costume from a small independent collector Jone Eftimovski. I photographed his collection on a trip to the Balkan countries in the fall of 2011. Mr. Eftimovski’s collection is displayed in a house next door to his home in a tiny village. The costumes were displayed in the open, and not behind glass as they are in city museums.     The costume pictured here is from the Ohrid Valley region of Macedonia. This region is very mountainous and in the days before cars and roads each valley had its own traditions for costumes worn for celebrations, feast days and weddings. There was similarity from valley to valley in that they all wore a basic hand loomed shift over which highly embroidered skirts, aprons, blouses, vests and jewelry were worn.

skirt bottom

skirt bottom

Usually there was also some form of head covering. All these were constructed from hand loomed or felted fabric and they were embroidered by hand. A young girl would start embroidering her wedding costume when she was very young. We were told that in the early 20th Century one could easily identify the region and sometimes even the village of the wearer of a traditional costume. These costumes are no longer being made as Macedonia has moved from a rural society to an industrial and digital savvy country in the last 100 years.   Ohrid Valley, Macedonia In the costume pictured here the metal thread decoration on the vest and the heavy coin jewelry can be traced to the Ottoman Empire which governed many of the Balkan countries for around 400 years. The people who wore these costumes spoke a Slavic dialect and so their embroidery is also influenced by Slavic traditions. Women of the Ohrid Valley clearly enjoyed glitz, gleam and jingle jangle. I can imagine them dancing in the clear mountain air flashing their wonderful colors and they whirled to the music.   Ohrid Valley, Macedonia At the time we visited Jone Eftimovski had been unsuccessful in getting any large museum to purchase his collection. He is very concerned that it be preserved. Mr. Eftimovski has published a book about his collection. It is titled Macedonian Folk Costumes ISBN 9989 – 785 – 50 – 3 If you are interested in looking further, try searching Macedonian folk or national costume on the web.

sleeve detail

sleeve detail

Detail, Ohrid Valley, Macedonia

embroidered apron

embroidered skirt

Detail, Ohrid Valley, Macedonia

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Barb Fox permalink
    April 24, 2014 7:57 pm

    Thank you Penny. The embroidery and embellishments make these costumes very lively!

  2. Betsy Platt permalink
    June 17, 2015 3:40 pm

    Penny, do you have a copy of Jone Eftimovski’s book? When I was there in 2012, it was out of print, and he had only one display copy. I would dearly love to own an original or a copy of the book, and happy to send him the $$ for it, too.

  3. Penny Peters permalink
    June 17, 2015 7:49 pm

    No, Sorry. I have loaned out my copy and it has not come back to me, alas. I too wish I could get a copy! Penny

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