Christine Brown on Romanian Textiles, Part 1: The Lecture

On June 16, 2012, Christine Brown

gave a Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning Program here at The Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. on the subject:

Christine had recently traveled in Romania and, drawing on images from that visit and from the literature, she illustrated the use of  textiles in Romanian homes, churches, and public buildings and talked about such use in traditional Romanian society.  The announcement of her talk said that her discussion would include traditional embroidery, the specialized clothing of shepherds, woven bags, and carpets.

Christine is a student of traditional costume and collects ethnic jewelry.  She is a professional, working for USAID, who has traveled widely, both in her work and privately.   She has presented previous RTAM programs on textiles of Uzbekistan and the tree of life.

She began with an illustrated lecture,  an approximation of which follows.  I am often drawing verbatim on the lecture notes Christine has provided, but sometimes I will comment and diverge, in ways which I hope will not distract.  I have sometimes added illustrative images.  While Christine has read and made editorial suggestions about this virtual rendition of her lecture, and while I have attempted to implement them, this post remains, unavoidably, my report on Christine’s lecture, rather than the lecture she actually gave, and any remaining errors are mine alone.


In the fall of 2011, I had the pleasure of spending two and one-half weeks touring Romania.

The trip focused on traditional crafts and took us to the homes and workshops of contemporary artisans working in ceramics, egg painting, the carving and painting of wooden grave markers, sheepskin vest embroidery, felt hat making, wood carving, and weaving. 

We also visited four of the painted monasteries in the northeast part of the country, a 13th century fortified church, the famous Black Church of Brasov

adorned with over 100 Turkish carpets,

a collection of 700 icons painted on glass, and two open-air museums displaying traditional architecture from different regions of the country. 

In addition, we visited three ethnographic museums and two private collections of traditional clothing, textiles, and carpets from across Romania.  One of these private collections was put together by the man shown in the photo below, with his wife, children, and grandchildren. 

The  multiple buildings seen behind the family housed his large collection of textiles and other ethnographic objects.

Having spent only 2 ½ weeks in-country, I am in no way an expert on Romanian textiles.  However, over the course of the trip, I was blown away by the sheer volume of textiles, their diversity, creativity, and very high level of artistry.  I decided to put together this program in the hopes that it will inspire any of you who have not yet been to Romania to go.  For those of you who have been there, I hope the images and textiles you will see today will bring back wonderful memories of your own visits.

I will start by situating Romania geographically and will then talk about three things: 

  1. traditional clothing;
  2. textiles used to adorn homes and churches; and
  3. kilims and carpets.

Geographical Location

Romania is situated in Eastern Europe and is bordered by several countries. 

Starting at the top of the map and looking clockwise, there is Ukraine to the north, Republic of Moldova, the Black Sea, Bulgaria to the south, Serbia, and Hungary.   The colored areas within Romania are actually historical regions. Present-day Romania is divided into 41 counties, but I think this map corresponds more closely to the regional and ethnic variations in the textiles we will see this morning.

 In today’s presentation, I will show clothing from most of the areas shown here on the map.  I want to stress, however, that what we will see is only a very small part of the many clothing and textile traditions in Romania.  Sadly, I am omitting more than I am including. 

One program note:  I will use generic English words to describe the textiles we will be looking at to avoid mispronouncing or misusing the Romanian terms.   When known, I have listed the region of Romania where a textile is from and the Romanian term for it in italics in the text below.

The diversity stems in part from the role clothing plays as an indicator of a person’s station in life or place within a community, including:

  • Age;
  • Marital status;
  • Occupation;
  • Wealth and social status;
  • Religious affiliation; and
  • Regional and national affiliation.


Diversity is also due to the different purposes that clothing serves:

  • Elaborate clothing is worn in celebration of special occasions such as weddings, religious holidays, etc.;
  • Specific articles of clothing were traditionally believed by some to be protective or to bring good fortune and fertility, especially to newlyweds; and
  • As is true anywhere, clothing varies by season and protects the wearer from the elements.


The examples I will be showing will illustrate these different roles.


Let’s look now at traditional clothing.  I will talk first about articles of clothing specific to women, then those specific to men, and then two that are worn by both.  The latter include sheepskin vests and waistcoats, and an early style of shoes.

This is John Howe, interrupting for a moment to insert an aside here.

Amy Rispin, one of the “rug morning regulars” and another serious student of textiles, points out that, in her book “Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years, ” Elizabeth Barber has shown that the basic elements of traditional European dress, especially women’s dress, are very deep.  Barber also treats this phenomenon in her subsequent “Prehistoric Textiles.”

I am going to draw on Barber’s work in some detail, below, but for the moment, here is a general point she makes about what the basic historical components of women’s clothes in much of Europe are, and how long they have been around.

Barber draws actual and “linguistic archeology” (the latter looks for the presence of particular terms for various items of clothing) to suggest that, for as far back as 3,000 B.C. ,the basic items of women’s clothing for much of Europe have been:  1) a white tunic; 2) belt, and 3) tubular over-wrap.  She notes that particular items of modern women’s clothing are not much different.

Now back to Christine’s lecture.




A basic component of a woman’s costume is the

full-length chemise with long sleeves, and usually made of cotton or linen.

[Photo: Oprescu, Pg 71]

Since other articles of clothing are always worn over it, only the areas that will show when the person is fully dressed are ornamented. These areas include the neck opening, front, back, shoulders, sleeves, and the hem when it shows beneath the other clothing being worn.  

Chemise sleeves are constructed in a variety of ways. 

[Photo:  Winkel, Pg. 21]

Some are voluminous and gathered only at the wrist, as shown in the photo at the top in the image above.

Others are gathered at the elbow and then flare out at the wrist, as shown in the  lower of these two photos.

A third type has the same voluminous fabric gathered at the wrist and ending with a short ruffle.

[Photo:  Winkel, Pg. 23]

In most cases, the sleeve ornamentation is composed of three sections:  a shoulder segment, a separating band that is often done in a contrasting color, and then designs running the length of the sleeve.   We will see more examples over the course of the talk.


A second basic component of a woman’s costume is the apron, or a skirt, or a combination of both, all of which are worn over the chemise.  The apron/skirt combinations vary widely, depending on the region and the ethnic group. 

In some areas, straight, rectangular aprons (catrinta or zadie) of similar size are worn, often in pairs, one in the front and one in back. 

[Photo:  Rosu, Pg. 31]

In the photo above (from Maramures), the mother is wearing two aprons and the daughter one.   The aprons have wide, horizontal stripes in red and black and are tied at the waist with cords.  The mother is wearing a sheepskin vest that opens at the front and is ornamented with tassels.  Both the mother and daughter are wearing headscarves.  Both are also wearing the traditional style of shoes and woolen socks that I will talk more about later.

 The husband is wearing a waist-length embroidered shirt, baggy white cotton trousers, a sheepskin vest, and a straw hat.  The sheepskin mantle (guba) he’s wearing around his shoulders is worn by both men and women.  

 In some places, the apron worn at the back is larger than the one in front.  It wraps about three-quarters of the way around the body to overlap with a narrow apron in front. 

[Photo Batca, Pg. 139]

In this example, her ankle-length chemise is heavily embroidered in red, with a contrasting band of color near the elbow.  Her front apron is a narrow rectangle, with a horizontal woven pattern, including two bands of human figures.  It is only a few inches shorter than the chemise.  The apron that wraps around from the back has a vertical, woven pattern and is several inches shorter than the front one.  She’s wearing a woven belt over both and a long piece of raw silk draped over her head and extending down her arm.

 Another variation (Oltenia; valnic) is a piece of wool fabric that is wrapped around the body, gathered at the waist, and held in place with a woven belt. 

[Photo:  Rosu, Pg. 20]

One source describes this piece as being up to 12 feet long and 3 feet wide.  It is worn over the chemise, and has a vertical, woven design of stylized geometric and vegetal motifs.  Note the broad, horizontal band of embroidery on the upper chemise sleeve and the vertical pattern running to the wrist.  The woman in the middle also has two bands of embroidery down the front.   Both are wearing traditional shoes and socks; both have their hair covered.

The man is wearing a white shirt with full sleeves cuffed at the wrist.  His narrow white trousers are decorated with black braid at the pockets.  He is wearing a wide woven belt and an embroidered sheepskin waistcoat decorated with the same black braid as the trousers.  He is also wearing a tall, black lambskin hat.

 A very different style of apron is found on the western side of the country (Banat; opreg). 

[Photo Winkel, Pg. 8; quote Pg. 30]

The description of this piece in the 1978 exhibition catalogue from the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles, states the following: 

QUOTE:  Two dark blue velvet sections, worn front and back, from which hangs a long, multicolored cotton fringe.  A panel of gold Romanian coins (lei) is sewn covering the velvet.  Brass tree forms punctuate the rows of coins.  The coins are dated 1897-1905.  This is probably a dowry piece.  END QUOTE   

In the close-up image, below, you can see the coins sewn on side by side. 

The rows of tree forms are attached in between the coins and lay on top of them.  The bottom row looks like flowers.

 Here is another example with the same type of fringe but with a woven panel instead of velvet with coins. 

[Photo Batca, Pg. 127]

A wide woven belt sits above the apron.  The chemise is heavily embroidered on the front and the sleeves.    The sleeves are gathered at the wrist with an embroidered ruffle.  The sheepskin vest is ornamented with geometric designs and dark wool trim around the edges and armholes.

 John:  Again, Amy Rispin gets credit for reminding me that string skirts are the focus of a lengthy treatment by Elizabeth Barber in her “Women’s Work” volume.

The following draws directly, and in detail, on Barber’s treatment.

Barber says that fossilized, plied, fiber string that dates to 15,000 B.C. has been found in caves in France.”

Courtesy Barber, Women’s Work, 1994

She moves from this to show that there are Stone Age figurines of women from several European locations wearing “string skirts” (3,000 to 20,000 B.C.).

Courtesy of Barber, Women’s Work, 1994

She provides an image of a particular wool, string skirt found on the remains of a  young woman in Denmark in the 14th century B.C.

Courtesy, Barber, Women’s Work, 1994

Next, Barber argues that the function of these string skirts was likely not “covering” (some of them are too skimpy to do much of that) but rather to signal the availability of the woman for sexual activity.  She talks about once wearing a string skirt herself and how “exhilarated and powerful” it made her feel.  Why “powerful?”  She speculates that that feeling is perhaps  rooted in the predominant role of women in the creation of new life.

Barber then indicates that the string skirt is still alive and well preserved in the folk costume of south-central and eastern Europe.   

Folk aprons, worn both to the front and to the rear, that have clear string elements are illustrated in Barber’s “Women’s Work…” volume, including one attributed specifically to Walachia, a region of Romania. 

Courtesy Barber, Women’s Work, 1994

Here is a larger image of the Walachian apron (b. above).

Courtesy Barber, Women’s Work, 1994

Note that Barber describes it as a “front” apron, in the caption, but says that there was also a nearly identical, Walachian back apron.  Both of these Romanian aprons have prominent string elements as do the two Christine treated above.

Back to Christine’s lecture:

[Photo Batca, Pg. 170]

This skirt is comprised of one rectangular piece of fabric (fota) about five feet long and three feet wide that is wrapped around the body and fastened at one side.  The fabric is often wool, or cotton mixed with wool.  The skirt can completely cover the lower part of the chemise, as in this example, or it can be slightly shorter, allowing the embroidered hem of the chemise to show below it.   The skirt has vertical strips of geometric designs that contrast with the horizontal stripes in the woven belt. 

 This last example (Buzau District; androc) is a full skirt with side seams and a waistband. 

[Photo Batca, Pg. 31]

It has vertical stripes and a band of dark fabric added at the hem.

Let’s move on to head coverings.


 We have already seen two examples of head coverings—headscarves tied under the hair at the back of the head

and the long, rectangular raw silk pieces. 

I will now show a few examples of some of the more unusual head coverings.

[Photo:  Batca, Pg. 54]

This one is quite unusual but, I am sorry to say, I couldn’t find a description saying what it is made of or on what occasion it is worn.  There is a row of coins at the bottom that lay flat on top of her hair.  There is also a row of pearls or beads at the base.

Note from John:  “Each region had its own modes of traditional hairdressing, and in certain regions there were special ornate headdresses for wedding ceremonies called in Romania Cununã  (coronet) or in Hungary parta).”  It may be that the fancy head gear is most likely wedding dress, since none of the everyday head coverings are very large or elaborate.

This young woman (from Nasaud) is wearing what one source translated as “peahens” (paunite)

[Photo:  Batca, Pg. 186]

It is comprised of two circles made of black ostrich feathers decorated with concentric circles of beads, red artificial flowers, and a hairpin set in the center.  The peahens are placed over the ears and tied with a ribbon at the back of the head.  Although we can’t see it in this image, another five or six ribbons are sometimes tied on and hang down the woman’s back.  See the section on men’s hats below for the male version of this headwear in the Nasaud region.

 This bride (from Oas) is wearing a headdress translated by one source as a “bride’s wreath.” 

[Photo:  Batca, Pg. 187]

The cylindrical headdress was believed to protect the young bride against evil forces at the beginning of her married life.  It is made of red velvet and is adorned with fresh flowers in summer and artificial flowers in winter.  It is also covered with beads of various sizes and colors (predominantly red) and with coins.  She is also wearing multiple beaded necklaces.

 This style of headdress (from the Tarnave River area) is constructed in layers. 

[Photo:  Postcard]

A red scarf is tied on the head, so that it covers the hair and encircles the face.  A white circular frame is then placed on the head followed by white fabric that also encircles the head.  Decorative metal pins, set with colored glass, pearls, and beads, are attached to the frame across the entire width of the forehead.

Let’s look now at men’s clothing. 



 A basic component of men’s clothing is the shirt. 

[Drawings, Hedvig- MariaFormagiu, pp.56-57]

Shirts usually have a white ground color, can be either short (waist-length) or long (extending mid-thigh and sometimes to the knees and below), and are made of hemp, flax, wool, cotton, or raw silk.  Decoration is applied on the neckline or collar, either side of the neck openings, shoulders, and the cuffs or edges of the sleeves.

These men (from Maramures) are wearing short shirts with embroidered collars and cuffs over wide, summer trousers. 

 [Photo:  Batca, Pg. 212]

According to one source, these trousers are tied at the waist with a drawstring.  They are also wearing sheepskin vests with red and blue tassels and straw hats with flowers. 

This group of men were decked out in their finest apparel for an event in 1906. 

[Photo:  Postcard]

The man on each end is wearing a straight, knee-length shirt while those in the middle are wearing gored shirts that make them much fuller.   They are all wearing white, close-fitting trousers.  Note the various belts, the embroidered textile hanging from the belt of the man at the far right, and the shoe laces winding up to the knees.  The laces on the man on the ground at the lower right have pom-poms.

The man in the photo at left (from Dobrudja) is wearing a long straight shirt with sawtooth edging at the hem. 

 [Photo:  Batca, Pg. 15]

The sleeves are cuffed.  He’s also wearing a very wide woven belt, a double-breasted vest of dark wool ornamented with buttons and appliquéd braiding. 

The photo, below, shows an identical vest buttoned up, forming a V shape.

  [Photo:  Batca, Pg. 163]


Let’s look now at trousers.  The fabric used for trousers is usually white, but the type of fabric varies by season.  Winter trousers were “fulled” to make them thicker.  Fulling entails moistening, heating, and pressing woolen cloth to make it thicker and, therefore, warmer.  Winter trousers are usually tight-fitting while summer trousers, made of thin wool or linen, can be tight or wide.

 This man (from the Apuseni Mountains) is wearing tight-fitting summer trousers. 

[Photo:  Batca, Pg. 88]

He is also wearing a thigh-length embroidered shirt, wide leather belt, an embroidered vest, and a hat.

I think that’s enough said about trousers. 

Let’s look at a few examples of belts.


Belts are made either of woven fabric or leather.   Fabric belts are worn by both men and women and can be either wide or narrow.


[Photo:  Rosu, Pg. 37]

Here we have a very wide woven belt (from Dobrudja).  The end has designs woven into it and a fringe that hangs loose over the hip.  The middle section is plain except for two narrow stripes at the top.  The book this photo comes from states that men from the region where this belt is worn wear white belts when working during the week and red ones, like the one in this photo, for holidays. 

This is a close-up view of a very wide leather belt that is worn throughout Transylvania (Saxon heritage).  

[Photo:  Rosu, Pg. 37]

It is ornamented with narrow strips of dyed leather laid down in floral and geometric patterns and with eyelets punched into the round lappets.   Note the Ottoman-style tulip.

 Some belts of this type are decorated using a repousse technique, meaning the design is pressed into the leather from the underside, creating a raised pattern on the top side.  On others, thick metal thread, tin tacks, studs, and more recently, colored glass beads are used to adorn them.


[My Photo]

The photo above shows two musicians who were performing for my tour group.  The man on the left is wearing a beaded belt; the man playing the accordion is wearing a leather belt.  The photo below is a close-up of the beaded belt.


 These wide leather belts are often worn by farmers and woodcutters because of the support they provide.


Let’s quickly look at men’s hats.  As with the women’s head coverings, there is wide variation in men’s hats.  I am going to show three of the more intriguing ones.

In many regions of Romania, a man was expected to adorn his hat or cap on his wedding day.  In some areas, gold or silver coins, given by parents or godparents, were used in hopes the coins would bring the young groom wealth in his new life.

In other areas, different types of feathers were used together with flowers, beads, silk ribbon, small mirrors, and a variety of other things. 


          [Photo:  Batca, Pg. 73; Text Pg. 200] 

This spectacular headdress (from Bistrita-Nasaud) is the male counterpart of the “peahen” headdress discussed in the women’s head covering section above.  It is comprised of hundreds of peacock feathers set in a fan shape by a specialized craftsman.  It would only be worn by a wealthy person.  Note his shirt with its embroidered collar and ornamental edging on the sleeves, the sheepskin vest covered in tassels, and his wide leather belt decorated with colored strips of leather.

John:  This style is dramatic enough to earn a couple more views.  Here is one from different angle.

There are versions on which beads are prominent.


Some hat styles indicate the wearer’s profession, as with the case of shepherds. 

[Photo:  Batca, Pg. 207]

Their hats are often made of very stiff felt and come in different styles. The shepherd’s hat shown here is medium height with a narrow, turned up brim.  The shepherds hats made by the hat maker we visited were taller and more conical and are worn perched on top of the head. 

 Note the beautiful sheepskin mantle this shepherd is wearing.

The next piece is a beautiful example of a type of straw hat worn in the Maramures region in northern Romania.

[My Photo:  Maramures beaded hat]: 

  It is an exceptional example because of the beautiful beadwork and pompoms.  It belongs to one of the artisans we visited on the tour who plopped it on something on her work bench, which is why there is so much stuff around it.


Let’s look at two articles of cl othing worn by both men and women.


The first is the vest or longer waistcoat, usually made of sheepskin and worn with the fleece on the inside.  The white skin surface on the outside is embellished in a variety of ways, including with:

  • embroidery,
  • appliqué (often with leather pieces),
  • wool tassels or pompoms; or
  • fur trim.

 We’ve seen a number of examples already so I will only show a couple more.

[Photo:  Rosu, Pg. 81]: 

The four images above show the front and back of two types of women’s vests (Saxon heritage). 

The one on top is beautifully embroidered with floral designs front and back and has crocheted edging at the sleeve holes of the same blue color as the skirt.  The vest is held together with white buttons on each side laced up with a cord.

The two features I want to point out in the embroidered sheepskin vest in the lower two images are:

  1. The vest closure is at the side underneath the arm.  You can see the loops in the picture at the bottom right.   Many women’s vests close in the front.
  2. This vest is cut so that it comes to a point in the front and back, making it especially elegant.  The others we have seen have straight edges.  The neck and bottom edges are lined with black wool.

 Traditional Shoes

The last item of clothing I am going to talk about is the traditional shoes that are worn by men and women and can still be seen today in smaller communities.

 [My Photo]

I took these two photographs last fall.  In both instances, these ladies were sitting out along the road, whiling away the time spinning wool or chatting, and watching the world go by. 

The lady in the photo above is not wearing traditional shoes.

But two of the ladies in the photo below ARE wearing the traditional type of leather shoe (opinca; opinci (pl.)).

  [My Photo]

Note that all four women are wearing headscarves, and two of the four are wearing vests.

 As with the other articles of clothing we’ve looked at, there is variation in the cut and stitching of these shoes,

[Photo:  Batca, Pg. 77]

but this diagram shows the basic technique.  A shoe is cut from a single, rectangular piece of pigskin or cowhide.  The variation occurs in the way in which the hide is folded and gathered around the top of the foot, how the heel is shaped, and the manner of tying the laces, either around the ankle, as shown here, or wrapping around the lower leg.


[Photo:  Oprescu, Pg. 44]

The excess hide in the shoes worn by the woman (from Bukovina), in the photo above, comes to a point over her big toes and the straps crisscross her feet and wrap multiple times around her ankles.

 The shoes of the young woman, in the image below (from Transylvania) are similar, but different. 

[Photo:  Oprescu, Pg. 39]

If you look at her left shoe, the excess hide seems to be folded back over her foot so that the front is squared off.  There is less lacing over the top of the foot, and even though it’s hard to see, the lacing goes up much higher on her leg.

John:  This basic style, with the laces moving up the leg, have been used in the part of Europe in which Romania is located for a long time.  It is visible in one of the Stone Age “string skirt” illustrations we saw from Elizabeth Barber back near the beginning.  Here it is, again.

Stone Age figurines of women from several European locations wearing “string skirts” (3,000 to 20,000 B.C.).

And Barber makes sure we’ve notice this in her caption comment on drawing (d) above.


In the last part of her lecture, Christine turned our attention to textiles adorning the interiors of homes and churches.

She said: “The group I traveled with was fortunate to be invited into the home of this woman in the photo below.

 [My Photo]

The photo below shows the exterior of her house.

[My Photo:  Exterior] 

You can see the chopped wood piled up at one end and some clothing hanging over the rail.

The  image below takes us inside and shows a bedroom with embroidered towels hanging along one wall just below the ceiling. 

[My Photo:  Interior]

On the bed is a striped woolen cover and two pillows, each with pillow cases embroidered only on the closed ends.  There is at least one small carpet on the floor.

The photo below, shows her two black skirts hanging on nails from the ceiling beam. 

[My Photo]

In some homes, the quantity of textiles is substantial and practically covers the walls as well as the furniture.

[Photo:  Postcard]

Textiles hung on the walls are positioned according to the weight of the material they are made of, which can be wool, flax, hemp, or cotton. 

 In the image, above, you can see the layers of textiles encircling the room, beginning with the section at the top.  The larger piece below has at least two small embroidered pieces on top of it.  The square one at the left appears to have pictures in wooden frames hung on top of it.  There is a plaid wool covering on the table. On the bed, there are multiple pillows with embroidered cases

 Although we don’t see them in this image, there are often icons painted on wood or glass and ceramic plates or jugs hung in a row above the textiles.



[My Photo:  Sheepskin Embroiderer with Bread]

One other special textile shown in this photo is a long, heavily ornamented rectangular piece on which a special loaf of round, braided bread and salt are offered to arriving guests.  Each guest tears off a bit of bread, dips it into the salt, and eats it.

The man offering the bread is one of the few remaining artisans in Romania that embroider the sheepskin vests we saw earlier.  He is also the one who embroidered the vest we will look at during show and tell.  That is his wife to the right and his granddaughter presenting a plate of salt. 

Here is another “bread and salt welcoming” photo.

[Uncredited internet photo]

My “title” photo, back at the beginning was still another example of the use of textiles in this welcoming ritual.


Textiles are also used to adorn churches. Many of you know of, or have visited, Romanian churches that are hung with donated Turkish carpets.  

Since the focus today is Romanian textiles, I’m not going to talk about these Turkish carpets.

Instead, let’s look at this beautiful wooden church and the traditional woven fence with the slanted wood covering to funnel the rain away.


[My Photo]

Visiting this church was not part of our planned itinerary, but we asked if we could stop to look at the exterior of it.  As it happened, the pastor of the church happened to see us and asked if we would like to see the interior, which of course we did. 

 This is what we saw when we entered—textiles everywhere! 

[My Photo]

All of these embroidered cloths had been made for, and donated to, the church over time.

Here is a closer view of some of them.

[My Photos:  Church interior] 

Some of these textiles are  specifically sized to be hung over the arms of the chandeliers.

 [My Photo:  Chandeliers]

Woolen textiles also covered the side benches and the floor.

[My Photo:  Wool Bench and Floor Coverings] 


Finally, we come to kilims. 

The tour included lunch on the balcony of the refectory at a monastery.  We walked through a couple rooms to get to the balcony and I took pictures of two of the kilims that, I believe, were woven in the Oltenia region. 

[My Photo]

In the photo below, note the embroidered cushions on the dining room chairs.


[My Photo]

John: Note that there are curvilinear elements in the designs in many Romanian kilims.  These are likely produced using eccentric wefts.

Christine: The next two images were sent to me by dealers.


John: Here is one more dealer piece from the internet.

Here is a closer detail.

Notice that there are bird and human figures in this piece.  We’ll talk later about this sort of thing in the discussion of pieces brought into this session.

Christine: The small weaving in the photo below was hanging on the wall of a restaurant my group ate at during the tour. 

[My Photo]

It is about 18 inches wide and 24 inches long.

A last photo is of a contemporary weaver and her daughter from the region of Bucovina.

John: A number of us in DC are familiar with this kind of Romanian textile.  A year or so ago there was an exhibition of it in the French Embassy here.  A French artist had become interested in this type of Romanian weaving and had worked with some Romanian weavers producing it.  The entire exhibition was of this kind of contemporary Romanian weaving.  Both the color palette and the designs were identical.

Christine answered questions

and ended her part of this program.


For those of you who would like to learn more about the textiles of Romania, there are books available in English.  Christine said that those that she referred to when preparing this talk include:

Batca, Maria:  The Romanian Folk Costume, National Centre for the Preservation and Promotion of Traditional Culture, Bucharest, 2006;

 Gervers, Veronika: “The Historical Components of Regional Costume in South-Eastern Europe,” Textile Museum Journal, Volume IV, Number 2, 1975, pp. 61-78, Washington, D.C.;

 Oprescu, George:  Peasant Art in Romania, The Studio Ltd., London, 1929.

 Petresco, Paul and Paul H. Stahl:  Tapis Roumains, Editions Meridiane, Bucharest, 1966.

 Rosu, Georgeta; Maria Magiru, and Mihai Dancus: The Traditional Costume in Romania, ALCOR EDIMPEX, Bucharest, 2011;

 Winkel, Joyce:  Romanian Folk Textiles, Craft and Folk Art Museum exhibition catalogue, Los Angeles, 1978.

End of Christine Brown’s bibliography.

While preparing this virtual version, I (John Howe) have also drawn on:

Barber, Elizabeth Wayland: Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years, New York and London, 1994.

Formagiu, Hedvig-maria: Portul Popular din Romania, Bucuresti, 1974.  Note: This is a Soviet era publication that strains too hard toward an abstract typology, so as to avoid much explicit treatment of ethnic differences, but still retains a good deal of useful information about basic components and variations of traditional clothing and especially where particular variations were worn.

Snowden, James: The Folk Dress of Europe, New York and London, 1979.

End of Bibliography

We now moved to examine the material that had been brought in.

To see that you need to follow the link below to Part 2:



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