A common term used by the locals, which is now also an ethnographic term. Locals also use expressions like “casting off the costume,” “distorting the costume,” “molting,” or “changing dress.”
Anglo-Saxon dress historians often use the term ‘ethnic dress’ when speaking of the traditional dress of rural peasant populations with distinctive local features, popularly called folk costume. I consider the term ʽethnic dress’ imprecise and problematic, especially in a strongly multiethnic area such as East-Central Europe. In this article, I variably use the terms traditional, peasant, or folk costume, dress, or clothing.
I did not consider it my task at that time to conduct a comprehensive study of the dress culture of the younger generations who had never worn folk costume. Having had included in this same study an analysis of the further development and afterlife of folk dress – taken out of its original context and used in a fancy dress-like way, as a curiosity or a symbol – would have taken me in a very different direction. At the time, I also did not address the integration of folk costume into mass culture and national culture. In my later writings, I addressed some of these issues, see Fülemile 2010, 2011.
Barthes underlines the relevance of socio-historical interpretation in the history of dress and the necessary dialectics between synchronic (structure of system) and diachronic (process) study: “What should really interest the researcher, historian or sociologist, is… the tendency of every bodily covering to insert itself into an organized, formal and normative system that is recognized by society.” (Barthes 2013:6). Clothes live in tight symbiosis with their historical context…” (Barthes 2013:11). “We cannot stress too much, by a way of conclusion, that the history of dress has a general epistemological value. It actually suggests to the researcher the essential problems in all cultural analysis, culture being both system and progress, institution and individual act, a reserve of expression and a signifying other.” (Barthes 2013:14).
Edit Fél (1910–1988) is a particularly dominant figure in Hungarian ethnography. She pioneered research in social and economic ethnography, folk art, costume, and textile studies. She developed the concept of the ambitious Átány study in the early 1950s, when the communist political turn made clear the imminent rapid transformation of the peasant world. Her books on the economy and society of Átány, a Calvinist Hungarian village – written with her co-author and disciple Tamás Hofer – and published in the USA, Germany, and Denmark (Hofer – Fél 1969b, 1972, 1974), received great international publicity. The findings could not be published in socialist Hungary, and the books could only be published in Hungarian translation after the regime change. Another one of her complex analyses of the Catholic worldview of a peasant woman in Mezőkövesd was similarly published abroad, in France (lauded by Pierre Chaunu) (Fél 1983). Throughout her career, Edit Fél maintained a fresh methodological approach and intensively kept up with the international research trends of her time and brought the ideas of social anthropology to Hungary. Despite the fact that she was politically considered persona non grata by the communists, and which cost her university chair, she continued to maintain ties with western scholars in English, French, and German, including Claude Lévi-Strauss, Marcel Maget, Arthur Haberlandt, Viktor Geramb, Richard Weiss, René König, Arie Nicolaas Jan den Hollander, Sol Tax, and Stella Mary Newton. It is no coincidence that Edit Fél’s approach brought a breakthrough not only in the field of social research but also in fieldwork, and the more sophisticated museological concept that contributed to the enrichment of the museum collection was the fruit of her more holistic approach to fieldwork. As the head of the Textile Collection of the Museum of Ethnography, it was she who developed the collection that became the largest textile collection in Europe. A good half of the nearly sixty thousand articles were collected from the field personally by Fél herself. The museum was the place where she could “hide” in the warehouse and work unbothered. When she was dismissed from the university in 1949 because of a communist turn in science policies, she could no longer formally teach, but she did work with some private students, and I was fortunate to be one of them. Many of the ideas in this study had been discussed with her. I think it is unnecessary to stress what a defining experience and source of inspiration my relationship with her had been.
The main communist leader János Kádár’s (1912–1989) name marked a long period in the history of Hungary, from the crushed anti-Soviet revolution of 1956 until the political change in 1990. He was chosen by the Soviets as the leader of the Hungarian People’s Republic as General Secretary of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party. He had personal responsibility in the reign of terror after 1956, which was only gradually eased by the first half of the 1960s. Liberalization under his tenure was an ongoing process, under his “Goulash Communism,” there was a relatively high standard of living, relaxed travel restrictions, and more liberal cultural life than in other countries of the Eastern Bloc beyond the “Iron Curtain.” As a result Hungary became known as “the happiest barrack.”
There is a serious tradition of folk costume research in Hungarian ethnography. Its greatest figure was the above mentioned Edit Fél. Mostly local monographs have been published, (more recently, Tötszegi on the dress of the village of Méra in Kalotaszeg, Transylvania, represents a thrillingly complex approach) as well as monographs of certain subjects with museological background knowledge (e.g. on woollen garments, leather garments, undergarments, cifraszűr/embroidered wool coat), and the catalog of the collections of the Museum of Ethnography). There are also several publications of historical archival sources of various types (inventories, testaments, accounts, price lists, many by Mária Flórián and Györgyi Csukás at the Institute of Ethnology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, not listed here in detail), but there are relatively few compendia. In the more recent literature, however, the lengthier, synthesizing chapter of the Handbook of Hungarian Ethnography (Flórián 1997) unfortunately left out the discussion of the phenomenon of costume abandonment or did not treat the topic thoroughly enough (Flórián 2001). Even the few cited studies touch on certain aspects of costume abandonment mainly as a part of studies of socio- ethnographic issues, values, and mentality. In essence, the present study was the first to pay focused attention to a summary overview of the phenomenon.
During my first Fulbright research fellowship, I gave a lecture on the subject in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley at the request of Professor Alan Dundes, followed by a public lecture at the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 1993 at the request of Richard Martin, director of the Costume Institute. Emphasizing the merits of the Hungarian folkloristic school of personality research, Professor Dundes highlighted the personality-based approach and examination of personal motives in my research. In fashion historian Richard Martin’s assessment, examining the role of fashion, modernization, and individual decisions in traditional clothing systems is a new and surprisingly exciting approach in fashion history research, a kind of bridge in a mostly distinct approach to folk costume and fashion.
Besides a thin stratum of high aristocrats, the nobility was comprised of a relatively large group of middle and petty nobles. In fact, along with Poland, Hungary had proportionately the largest nobility in all of Europe.
The term paraszt (peasant) is a widely accepted expression in Hungarian ethnographical, historical, sociographical, and sociological research. It denotes a large part of the historical population (dealing with agriculture, animal husbandry, and crafts) that lived in the rural countryside, in villages and agrarian towns (oppidum). A larger portion of them came from feudal serf peasants (iobbagiones), while a smaller portion had free legal status (kind of a yeoman) in some regions and municipalities. In all historic periods, the peasantry was stratified from landless poor farmhands and cotters to well-to-do farmers. The term was willingly and proudly used by the denominants themselves and had positive connotations. (Even the term jobbágy, meaning iobbagiones, had a positive meaning in some villages until the 1980s, referring to the well-to-do farmers by this term.) The flip-side of the coin is a pejorative meaning originating from an elite and middle-class use of it as a derogatory term. Since its birth in the mid-19th century, Hungarian ethnography as an academic discipline has soundly dedicated itself to the study of the culture and society of the peasantry. On the other hand, the general umbrella term nép, i.e., folk, and its derivatives are considered more old-fashioned and imprecise and have been debated from socio-historical standpoints.
Thus, peculiarities and changes in the clothing system can be interpreted as part of, and in relation to, the other genres of folk culture – i.e., representative decorative objects, architecture, dance, music, and oral folklore. On the stylistic periodization of folk art see: Hofer – Fél 1979; Hofer 1980a.
The cut of the garments followed straight lines and used the entire width of the linen provided by the loom. Leggings and sleeves were narrow so as not to waste material. For summer, a single layer of linen was worn, while for winter and representative occasions, an additional layer of leather and/or woolen (woven or felt) upper garment was added. Some of these medieval-style, straight- cut, homespun garments were retained as specific work clothes for harvesting up until the mid- 20th century. Archaic solutions were often preserved in children’s costumes and specific burial garments as well. In some peripheral regions of the Hungarian-speaking territory (in the Gyimes Valley in Eastern Transylvania and among the Hungarian-speaking Roman Catholic Csángó people of Moldova), this archaic costume composition was preserved until very recently. More on the old- style folk dress, see Fülemile 2010:169–170.
Decorated objects were mostly produced in a few important urban centers and circulated in larger circles through fairs and long-distance catering and peddling.
In Western Europe, where an earlier and more integrative embourgeoisement and a smoother transition from rural to urban had occurred in the early modern period, the dress of common people was not so strongly independent of general fashion influences as in the case of East Central Europe.
See, Hofer 1980b, 1984, 1991.
On the other hand, regional differences often originated from the fact that they preserved various stages of historical development. Regions and communities, even families or individuals, were characterized by their different attitudes toward and dynamics of accepting innovations and/or retaining conservative solutions. Roland Barthes, citing Fernand Braudel about the relativity of historical periodization, writes that histories of parallel phenomena “do not necessarily have the same tempo” and rhythm and pace of development (Barthes 2013:6, 16). Original citation by Braudel: “Though we must of course be clear that social time does not flow at one even rate, but goes at a thousand different paces, swift or slow, which bear almost no relation to the day-to-day rhythm of a chronicle or of traditional history.” See Braudel, Fernand: Ecrits sur l’histoire, Paris: Flammarion 1969. 15–38. p. 24 (Translated by Sarah Matthews in Braudel, Fernand: On history, Chicago University Press, 1980.)
In the case of Hungarian peasant dress, in regions with a rich costume tradition, there were hundreds of items in the wardrobe of a peasant woman (30-40 outer skirts, 20-40 festive aprons, 60-120 headscarves, etc.), from which many variations of outfits could be produced, pairing the materials, colors, embellishments according to certain rules.
In addition to the above-mentioned simple straight-cut “medieval”-type linen dress, another structural composition typical of Transylvania has retained Renaissance features: slimmer, elongated, ankle- length skirt with apron, laced bodice or vest with Renaissance-cut embroidered shirt, red and yellow boots, a distinctive headband for virgins, tuille veil for newlywed women, etc. See, Fülemile 2010:171–172.
The voluminousness of the skirt was achieved not with hoops but with several layers of petticoats. The length of the skirt varied, falling more or less between the ankles and the knee. Aprons, especially in the 19th and early 20th centuries, were also wide. The petticoats required an enormous amount of fabric (made possible by the use of finer cambric) together with the wider apron and the skirt. Fashionable fabrics in the late 19th century were red-patterned – called oily Turkish – and blue- dyed printed cotton.
A good example is the folk costumes of the Palóc ethnographic region, a large territory in North- Eastern Hungary encompassing three counties, with many specific sub-regions. Palóc costumes are characterized by complex multi-layered headdresses with numerous variations for different age groups and occasions. Young married women wore different kinds of bonnets; older women used 3-4 layers of kerchiefs. With starched headscarves, they “sculpted” peculiar shapes, lending a distinctive local flavor to the look and making them immediately recognizable.
The boot fashion changed substantially. Instead of the older red, soft, knurly, folded bootleg, the new boot had a heavier, harder bootleg and employed the accepted western technique of sewing the sole. Black became the preferred color. (Generally, the more widespread use of black was an urban influence.) The more fashionable girls might require that the bootmaker make the sole creak. The sound of the boot could be amplified by copper “horseshoes” on the heels.
The sound of the boot is an important “ingredient” of male dances, the rhythmic clapping on the hard bootleg along with the sound of the steps being an essential element in the interplay of music and dance.
A romantic interpretation of the csárdás-verbunk music by Liszt, Brahms, and others reached European concert halls; together with the Polish polka and mazurka, these essentially Hungarian dances were welcomed in elite European salons and even at the Viennese court balls.
In the culturally more conservative Transylvania, more archaic Renaissance style couple dances that incorporated a lot of turning and spinning were preserved. The women’s smoother, more horizontal, even movements were aided by their longer, lighter skirts, which opened up like a flying circle, the centripetal forces of the skirt assisting the movement of the dancer perfectly. This type of spinning was unimaginable in the newer style multi-skirted type of heavier costumes.
By the late 19th–early 20th century, every village had its own grocery store, run by local Jewish shopkeepers who shrewdly brought the needed fabrics to the locality.
The sewing machine also became a tool of decorating the flowing contours of embroidered motifs with colored twisted cotton yarn.
Strict birth control and one-child system as an economic strategy was practiced especially in Reformed Presbyterian regions, i.e., Ormánság, Sárköz, Kalotaszeg. (In 1910, two-thirds of Hungarians were Catholic, one-third Reformed Presbyterian.)
Peasant dress is the expression preferred by locals when speaking of “our costume,” which they consciously contrast with “urban fashionable dress.”
Despite its relatively short history in the 20th century, Kalocsa’s embroidery is popularly considered to be the essential Hungarian style. By the second half of the 20th century, patterns taken from needlework were applied on kitschy gadgets of “airport art” chinaware in industrial quantities as well. These objects are also at the core of the nostalgic souvenir collecting of older generations of heritage communities.
Ethnographic fieldwork: Bogyiszló, Csibrák, Decs, Dúzs, Madocsa, Regöly, Sióagárd, Szakály (Tolna county); Hosszúhetény, Martonfa, Szebény, Zengővárkony (Baranya county); Érsekcsanád, Szeremle (Bács-Kiskun county); Acsa, Bag, Galgahévíz, Galgagyörk, Galgamácsa, Hévízgyörk, Szada, Tura, Vácszentlászló, Zsámbok (Pest county); Galgaguta, Hollókő, Kazár, Mátraszele, Mátraszőlős, Mátraverebély, Nógrádkövesd, Varsány, Vizslás (Nógrád county); Mezőkövesd, Szentistván (Borsod- Abaúj-Zemplén county); Apátfalva, Szeged-Alsóváros, Tápé (Csongrád county). In addition to the mentoring of Edit Fél, Jolán Borbély, Márta Kapros, and Mária G. Vámos also assisted me in finding my way in the field. Márta T. Knotik shared with me the findings of her data collection on the clothing of Szeged-Alsóváros. Hereby I would like to thank them again for their assistance.
Research in historical archives and museum textile, photo and data repositories: Baja, Balassagyarmat, Budapest, Eger, Pécs, Salgótarján, Szeged, Szekszárd. (Figure 4)
I commenced more regular fieldwork in Transylvania in 1991, which I and my husband, Balázs Balogh, still continue today, mainly in Kalotaszeg and its wider surroundings, as well as around Cluj-Napoca, where we have collected in about 100 settlements in the last 30 years. See for instance: Balogh – Fülemile 2004, 2006, 2012.
There are regions of Hungarian minority groups in Transylvania where several communities preserved a more “archaic” stage of folk dress, along with lively cultural practices, elaborate functions and occasions, rich symbolism, and an array of recent manifest meanings of ethnic costume. Revival phenomena are often stronger among them, and ethnic dress was and still can be used as a conscious marker of recent minority, ethnic, and national identity.
For the latter, see Fél 1937:96.
A value system means conscious decisions about what is considered important, which aspects of life money, energy, time, and resources should be spent on, and what areas of culture should be pursued and emphasized. In general, when it came to personal comfort, there was a high rate of self- denial, although generous sums were being spent on prestige representations. Hungarian peasants laid particular emphasis on everything external that was visible and justifiable to the community. The quality of a horse-team and its harness were as much a matter of prestige and self-pride for the head of the family as was a large wedding (lasting three days and with hundreds of guests). The most important means of prestige representation was clothing.
Bertalan Andrásfalvy’s outstanding work on peasant values and mentality is the study in which he juxtaposes the elements of the strongly divergent values of the Hungarian peasant community of Hegyhát in Southern Transdanubia and the neighboring Swabian German peasant community, pointing out the underlying historical social and economic reasons (Andrásfalvy 1978).
The co-author of the Kazár collection was Judit Stefány, my university classmate. The ethnographic material of our Kazár collection provided the basis for our MA thesis and later doctoral dissertation, which was also published as a book (Fülemile – Stefány 1989).
In the case of regional folk costumes, public opinion is influenced by the schematism that lay people develop because of the unavoidable didactic simplification of museum displays and popular publications. Many people have a stereotyped, fixed image (a certain landscape = a flashing image = a certain kind of costume), and they have no idea of the variety of form, of the range of possible variants the dowry, the wardrobe provides for an individual to wear throughout their lifetime, not to mention the gamut of variations in the local community.
The sociology of costume readily employs the concepts of structuralist linguistics as a metaphoric parallel in approaching the traditional clothing systems of premodern hierarchical societies. Roland Barthes examines the methodological relevance of applying the Saussurean model on the study of dress in the chapter “Langue and parole, dress and dressing” in History and Sociology of Clothing: Some Methodological Observations (Barthes 2013:8–11, originally published in Annales 3 (July- Sept.) 1957, 430–41). As he states: “Since Saussure, we know that language, like dress, is both a system and a history, an individual act and a collective institution…” „Langue is the social institution, independent of the individual; its a normative reserve from which the individual draws their parole, ‘a virtual system that is actualized only in and through parole’. Parole is the individual act, ‘an actualized manifestation of the function of langage’, langage being a generic term for both langue and parole. It seems to be extremely useful, by way of an analogy to clothing, to identify an institutional, fundamentally social reality, which, independent of the individual, is like the systematic, normative reserve from which the individual draws their own clothing…” (Barthes 2013:8)
That structuralist pair of terms is an excellent tool to illustrate the complexity of the richly differentiated clothing systems of the local peasant communities of East-Central Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The ‘langue’, the “normative reserve” of the dress system involves vocabulary (objects) and grammar (knowledge). Words in the “dictionary” of costume are the totality of possible consentaneous articles in an ideal wardrobe (garments, fabrics, colors, patterns, embellishments). The “grammar”, the complex knowledge and practices in a local dress culture, includes the “syntax”, the rules by which these elements are arranged by the wearer into outfits – depending on the occasion, age, gender, marital status, rank, and other special content one wishes to express – as well as all the wealth of information related to the acquisition, production, cleaning, and storage of clothing, and the care and aesthetics of the body. ‘Parole’, the spoken text, the speech of dressing, the set of clothes worn by the individual for a particular occasion, is situation-dependent and contingent, the content, rhetorical devices, and style of which depend on many things – the background of the speaker/wearer (social affiliation, education, age, gender, taste, etc.) as well as the specific occasion, purpose, and medium of speaking/appearance. The physical, material, theoretical, and bodily knowledge needed for clothing, as well as the variations and the implementation in situation-dependent social practice, together with the meanings that can also be decoded in social communication, all make up the general phenomenon of ‘langage’, the complex whole of the clothing system.
In Kazár, for example, traditional men’s wear disappeared in the first half of the 1920s. The people of Kazár believe that the men’s wear was “swept away by the mine.” (The most dynamically changing period in Kazár men’s wear was around 1890-1900, when several types of clothing were present side by side in the older and younger generations, but at the same time the initial signs of costume abandonment were already showing. In Kazár women’s clothing, it was the 1930s that were characterized by a similar complexity.) The dissonance between men’s and women’s clothing was clear to them, too. “Short wide skirts and pantaloons do not go together,” they said. In the interwar period, the situation was similar in most of the villages studied.
In Apátfalva in the Southern Great Plain, which is of the peasant-bourgeois type, the situation was reversed. Here, women’s abandonment of folk costume started around 1920 (the latest in Csongrád county) and ended quickly, within 10 years. On the other hand, the clothing of men over the age of 40 had conspicuously traditional characteristics even in the 1980s. Different generations wore different types of clothing, and the older the men, the more they preferred traditional garments. (Interestingly, until the 1980s, a Slovak tailor from Orosháza would show up at the market in Apátfalva every two weeks with serge and wool Sunday suits and corduroy and blue linen casual and work clothes that appealed to local farmers with more provincial tastes.)
Even after finishing the costume monograph, we kept in touch with our informants for years and worked on new projects. One of our main informants, a woman who had been widowed early and had an exceptional wardrobe and knowledge, not only assisted in writing the monograph on the attire of her village but was also the main subject of a documentary produced by the film studio of the Museum of Ethnography (László Lehel – János Tari – Ágnes Fülemile – Judit Stefány: Women’s wear in Kazár. A film from the Ethnographic Film Studio of the Museum of Ethnography. 45 mins). Later on, at our encouragement, Aunt Panni, who was blessed with irresistible humor and was an excellent raconteur, wrote an autobiography, along with the stories of the village community and her family – a striking account of the peasant world and its values – which we edited and had published in several editions (Tőzsér Kapcsos 2004). (Figure 7, 24, 43)
For example, in Őrhalom (Nógrád county) Fél 1962:30, on the Kapos river valley, G. Vámos 1977:8–9, 21–22; 1979:242–45.
Many regional Hungarian women’s dresses emphasized wide shoulders, wide hips, and strong legs, signs of the sturdiness of a healthy body. If a woman was somewhat slim, she added (without admitting it) extra padding at the hips and some extra layers of petticoats. The folds of the skirt accentuated the bottom and the sides, never the front. The belly had to be flat. While shoulders were emphasized, the form of the breasts was not meant to be displayed. In line with the general work ethic, strong and able- bodied boys and girls who were supposed to be hard workers and able to give birth to healthy children were valued. Round-faced, rosy-cheeked girls met the beauty ideal, and brown hair (anthropologically dominant within the Hungarian population) was considered pleasing. Pale, blonde girls of a slim and fragile stature were teased as “weak, finicky urban girls” unfit for hard work.
The blouse has captivated the entire community in some villages, e.g., Mátraszele, Hosszúhetény. In Hosszúhetény, they say “we switched to lighter wear.” Elsewhere, the blouse was raised only as an idea, which was not accepted by the community as a whole, but proved to be a “substitute” solution for certain strata; in Kazár, for example, the blouse was worn only by the poor and orphans, “who had no other choice.” Because it was considered “cheaper,” it had no prestige, it gained no traction. In Bag, it was also the poor girls and women who worked on the railway or as farmhands that were the first to abandon the shawls, boots, and traditional hairstyles and headgear. In Bag as a whole, this solution spread only later, in the 1950s, but in Kazár, for example, it was never adopted.
One of the biggest problems that came with the social tensions in the interwar period was the unresolved issue of land. The Land Reform bill was introduced in Hungary in the last weeks of the war, in March 1945, under the tutelage of Soviet troops, and the process was completed by the fall of 1946. (Alongside the radical land reform of 1945, they wanted to involve the peasantry in the restoration of war-damaged production.) The holdings of large landed estates were confiscated and split into smallholdings - one third of the arable soil in total. (Allowances were limited to 100 acres for previous landowners, 200 for peasants, and 300 for confirmed antifascists.)
The land reform provided 650,000 claimants with support (creating 400,000 new individual holdings and supplementing 240,000 existing holdings). Poor families (mostly landless wage workers and farmhands) were given a smallholding not exceeding 5 acres. Compared to the 1941 statistics, the proportion of landless people decreased (from 46 to 17 per cent), and the dwarf and smallholder stratum within the peasantry became dominant (increasing from 47 per cent to 80 per cent).
However, the intolerant implementation of the process led to many conflicts and grievances. These newly-created dwarfholdings were not even enough for self-sufficiency, and a lack of animals and adequate tools and machinery often made cultivation of the land difficult. With the forced disintegration of larger agrarian enterprises, the fragmented land structure did not lend itself to sensible, rational farming but instead reinforced the old, traditional methods.
The sociological literature also deals with the “re-peasantization” characteristic of 1945-48. Füstös et al. 1982:329.
For the peasant policies of the late 1940s and 1950s, with a critical voice already during the Kádár- era see, for example, Donáth 1977; Simon 1984; Balogh – Pölöskei 1975.
In 1949-1950, practically all members of production cooperatives came from the poorest of the village populations, which is why the early kolkhoz-type cooperatives held no prestige. After Stalin’s death in 1953, the personal cult of Mátyás Rákosi became compromised, and during his first term as prime minister, Imre Nagy allowed people to leave these early, rather unsuccessful cooperatives; in 1955-56, however, forced collectivization returned, which partly motivated the rural events of the anti-soviet revolution of 1956.
On the value of work, quotas, contributions, prices, see Chapter 7: “Administering Coercion” in: Lampland 2016:325–380, in Scribd online edition.
Between 1949 and 1955, more than 400,000 peasants were convicted of “endangering public welfare.”
In the early fifties, the kulak list had about 60-70,000 names.
Young boys and girls of agrarian proletarian background who were educated in newly established People’s Colleges with the aim of transforming them into loyal cadres of the regime were in fact turned against their own past.
Losonczi 1977:215–222. The chapter titled “The Peasant—Worker and Worker—Peasant Contrast” provides examples of traditional stereotypes of mutual recriminations.
On the persecutions of the 1950s in Apátfalva, Halász 1975:29–31. The grievances of the 1950s were also mentioned by my informants in Apátfalva a lot.
Regöly was a market town until 1872, then a large municipality, and since 1900 a municipality. The construction of railways and roads bypassed it, it was not involved in the production of goods. It is a community with a special self-awareness due to its historical past and horse-keeping traditions. By the 1980s, it was a village with a rapidly declining population due to its one-child tradition, with no retaining force.
‘Our costume’ is a term often used by the locals. A Morva-Slovakian paralell by Petr Bogatyrev written in 1937: “The folk sometimes designate this general function with the term ‘our costume’ (naš kroj) – which indicates not only the regionalistic function, but some kind of special function… Mother tongue and ‘our costume’ derive their priority from the fact that they are closest to us of all languages and costumes. The general function is most akin to the regionalistic function, but there is a fundamental difference between the two...” While based on the regionalistic function we compare a costume to that of other regions, in the case of ‘our costume’ we are not primarily talking about such a juxtaposition, but rather that it is this costume of all kinds of clothing that is the closest to the wearer. This characterization may also apply to clothing that has no regional or national function at all. “In analyzing the concept of ‘our costume’, we observe that there is a strong emotional element expressed in it” (Bogatyrev 1971:96).
The defining axis of traditional peasant life was the self-sufficient family farm based on the private ownership of land. Land was therefore not only about social rank but also a guarantee of independence and freedom.
The conservative allegiance to their life experiences of the women who stayed home and worked in the cooperatives is expressed through language like “I would never go, I love the land, I would suffocate in a factory”.
Balogh 2009 discusses the fate of the male generation in a Transdanubian village, from the time of collectivization to the time of the study. This was the first generation of men, unable to take over their father’s/grandfather’s farm in their young adulthood, to whom it became clear that they must break with the hitherto inherited practice of individual farming.
On the social mobility of the period and its negative consequences from a contemporary sociological point of view, see Andorka 1979, 1982; Vágvölgyi 1982. The changes imposed by the “socialist reorganization of agriculture” also caused serious psychological injuries. From the early 1960s, the phenomenon has been called “cooperative-neurosis” and led to psychiatric examinations. Juhász 1964, 1965, 1970.
The uneven distribution of administrative, economic, cultural, and educational institutions headed by the all-encompassing principle of centralization remained a real structural developmental problem in the entire country during socialism.
In several intensive sectors (pigs, grapes, fruits, and vegetables), the household economies were generating 50-60% of the production, and even 80-90% in the case of early vegetables grown in poly-tunnels, as well as some small animals (Molnár 1996:631–643).
See, Harcsa 1991; Huseby-Darvas 2000.
Several articles have been written on the “depeasantization” phenomena (the social, economic, and cultural consequences of collectivization) , including the debate in the journal Századvég; see Valuch 2003a; Kovách 2003; Laki 2003; Harcsa 2003.)
Rural sociologist István Márkus considered the term “peasantry” irrelevant in their case. Perhaps partly inspired by Henri Mendras (Mendras 1970), he uses the term “post-peasantry” and in terms of ‘longue durée’ (long-term processes), he considers the 1960s and 70s to be the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. Of the radical changes, he writes: “In the sixties and seventies, we are dealing with an agricultural society that had been substantially restratified, first by land policies, then by the eradication of a wide stratum of rich and middle peasants, and finally by collectivization carried out in several waves. These are villages and farmsteads from which hundreds of thousands commute to work in the city, to industry, construction, or offices, and where the two generations since 1945 have graduated from at least elementary school, but most even vocational schools. By now, the typical family is a family making a living from several types of work – semi-laborer, semi- peasant, sometimes semi-intellectual families. This so-called post-peasantry – which we know is still a broad category – is given the opportunity after 1960 to make money from, among other things, small-scale agricultural production. And the earnings are not insignificant compared to previous peasant earnings or even industrial wages or local teachers’ pay of the same timeframe. This is where a new factor comes into play... There was an explosion of ambition. Huge masses of the Hungarian peasantry – including millions of former poor peasants – were given the opportunity in the 1960s-70s, after several false starts, to throw off the shackles of being a peasant. They erected hundreds of thousands of urbanized houses with bathrooms on the sites of the – out-dated or livable, but definitely peasant-style – old houses, which were then furnished according to urban fashions. In their dress, foodways, evening TV viewing, children’s clothing, and later car buying and garage building, they sought to catch up to or even surpass their city-dwelling neighbors” (Márkus 1991:200–201).
For Márkus’ “post-peasantry” category, sociologist Iván Szelényi uses the term “peasant-worker” in his model called “interrupted embourgeoisement.” Szelényi (1983) had an inevitable impact on the historical, sociological, and ethnographic discourses on socialist enterpreneurialism and embourgeoisement (as the “third way”).
A detailed analysis of the regional network of marriage circles in a particular region (in Kalotaszeg, Transylvania, Romania) and its role in the formation of regional structure and identity, see Balogh – Fülemile 2012.
The dowry consisted of the costumes of the bride for her entire life cycle, from adulthood to death, along with the furniture to store the dowry in and the bridal bed and bedclothes; household textiles for every functional purpose and representative occasion; and a parcel of hemp field (inherited through the female line) for providing for the future family’s basic textile needs. According to the traditional system of inheritance customs, while all sons shared the inheritance of the parental real estate equally, daughters received their share in the form of a dowry. Female land inheritance was gradually introduced by a modern legal system only in the late 19th century, but the custom of the bridal dowry was preserved well into the second half of the 20th century.
Since the dowry provided the bride’s wardrobe from head to toe for every occasion (new items were rarely purchased after the wedding, except for some functional everyday pieces), the “fashion” at the time of the wedding was thereby conserved by consecutive generations of contemporaries. The quantity and quality of articles in the dowry (albeit with variations according to period, region, economic and social background) aligned with the local community’s ideal of clothing at the time.
Thus peasants thought in terms of creating and composing ensembles of articles, conservatively maintaining the system over a long period of time – at least for the lifetime of their own generation – and they often disallowed (or were slow to accept) changes.
The compilation of the dowry was a long process that lasted many years. During the childhood of her daughter, the mother first produced the less valuable everyday household textiles and more valuable pieces were produced only after the girl reached a certain age. Girls began to learn textile techniques at the age of five or six and by the time of their wedding, they would have mastered the finest techniques they needed to exhibit by making some special pieces. As part of the wedding ceremonies, the dowry was ceremonially transported from the bride’s house to the bridegroom’s, displayed on a carriage. The community “inspected” it, commenting on the quantity and quality, and also judging the bride’s merits based on her embroidery skills.
Among the most valuable pieces of the dowry were the festive garments inherited from the mother, grandmothers, aunts, and godmothers. Through these articles, an entire female lineage, family history, and genealogy were preserved. Retelling the personal stories behind these articles to younger family members was a means of maintaining memories. (An exemplary analysis of the above from Méra, [Kalotaszeg region, Transylvania, Romania], see Tötszegi 2009:99–110, chapter: „A viseletdarabok életútja. Családi emlékezet a viseletdarabok tükrében” [The life course of costumes. Family memory in the light of costumes.])
Not from Hungary, but very typical example is from the Moldavian Klézse (Cleja) in Romania – where I attended a Catholic baptism two months before the outbreak of the Romanian Revolution in the autumn of 1989 – where women in their 20s and 30s (i.e., of childbearing age) had abandoned traditional dress in their teens, or had never worn costume at all, and folk costumes were reserved for major holidays only. Yet baby care and dressing remained uniformly traditional in all families, even for those working in the city. Infants were swaddled up until the age of one, with their hands and feet bound, and beliefs about infancy and bewitching were also very much alive. From the age of one, however, the children were dressed in urban children’s clothes available in stores. Here, even a decade or two after the abandonment of traditional clothing, the knowledge of infant care remained traditional. The generational distribution of traditional knowledge is also characterized by the fact that when I was there, the grandparents spoke Csángó-Hungarian and could barely speak Romanian, the middle-aged mixed Romanian with bad Hungarian, and the children mostly used only Romanian.
A regional ethnic group calling themselves Csángó that has lived at the foot of the eastern slope of the Carpathians since the Middle Ages, has been Roman Catholic (unlike the Orthodox majority Romanians surrounding them) and Hungarian-speaking until their linguistic Romanianization in the 20th century. The language of the Csángós, characterized by pre-modern group identity, is an ancient dialect that preserves medieval linguistic features from before the modern Hungarian language reform (with some dialect differences even within the settlement area), and in terms of their intangible folklore, music, beliefs, and folk religiosity, it is one of the most archaic ethnographic groups of Hungarians. (For the language use and identity change of the Moldavian Csángós, see: Tánczos 2003; Pozsony 2006; Ilyés et al. 2008.)
Mária Kresz drew attention to the same in 1950 during a lecture, with fresh contemporary eyes. Kresz, Mária: A népviselet és a parasztság osztályhelyzete [Folk costume and the class position of the peasantry]. 1950. Manuscript, Museum of Ethnography, Ethnological Database: EA 3442.
For example, a woman from a poor peasant family in Kazár was forced to wear a cheaper version of the local costume with a blouse, a so-called “Szele” version. (Mátraszele is a village in the Kazár- Vizslás-Mátraszele costume group that saw a different costume development. In contrast to Kazár, which dictated the fashion within the group, it is characterized by a costume of lower prestige, considered poorer.) The woman said of her dress: “It was by necessity that I liked the Szele version better, but my heart always belonged to the Kazár version.” In 1960, when her financial situation finally allowed it, she “switched” back to the Kazár costume. “I felt so poor in the old version,” she explained the switch.
The same socio-psychological factor is the reason for former servants’ clinging, attachment to the land and individual farming even after the turn of 1960s collectivization, as they had a hard time letting go of the few acres received in the post-World War II land reform. In the economic and market conditions of socialism, individual farming was mostly an opportunity for a politically pilloried, anachronistic, struggling self-sufficiency. A typical example is an individual farmer couple of servant origin from Sióagárd; the woman as a writing woman (drawer of embroidery patterns) and the man as a prímás (lead violinist) are truly bearers and custodians of the disappearing local peasant culture. At the same time, the disordered state of their farm, and especially the neglected interior of their dwelling, clearly shows that they lack a kind of established order of things seen with middle peasants, which shows that they still lack a certain knowledge, unable to completely shed the mentality and experiences carried over from their poor peasant past.
In her study on Varsány, Katalin Jávor writes that many of the former servants belong “to the peasant type in terms of their desires.” “The previously poorer strata want to establish the prestige values of a former peasant life that had been unattainable for them from their current income from non-agricultural work. (Rich folk costume, large wedding, own vineyard.)” (Jávor 1978:333).
I am not just thinking of women’s jobs available to the poor peasantry at the beginning of the century and between the two world wars, but also of the “employment” of women from the 1960s by the socialist state in general, especially after the establishment of cooperatives, the placement of some portion of rural women in industrial and service jobs, and the education of young people.
For example, a woman (in her 60s at the time of the study) from Bag continued wearing folk dress throughout her 16 years working in the cooperative. When she became a cleaning lady at the Railway Directorate in Budapest in the mid-70s, she switched her dress to urban. Photos taken at her old and new workplaces among colleagues clearly indicate how perfectly she identified with the roles, how well she followed the models in all external features and behaviors.
For example, in 1951, the vice-president of the town council in Acsa was the same writing woman who introduced colored embroidery in the village in 1948. (Report on the Ethnographic Study Tour of Textile Factory Designers. 1951. III. Kispest Textile Factory – Acsa, manuscript, Museum of Ethnography, Ethnological Database: NM EA 2492.)
We need to stress though, that even before group abandonment began, there were sporadic examples of individual abandonment of folk dress. Marrying outside the village or marrying up, as well as working outside the village, especially in the city, provided an opportunity for this.
Lack of materials was a real problem in villages that were directly on the front line during World War II and the material destruction was great, such as in the Galga river valley. But here, too, this was a problem rather for certain individuals and not for the community as a whole.
Incidentally, the intellectual contemporaries were just as repulsed and alarmed by these materials (e.g., silk, brocade silk, velvet) at the time as they were at the sight of a jersey blouse or imitation leather bag in the 1980s. An interesting group of sources are the mini-monographs made in the 1930s, preserved in the Ethnological Database of the Museum of Ethnography, written by local cantor-teachers and pastors at the commission of the Royal Hungarian Inspectorate on the folklife of their own villages. The quality of the papers is variable, but what they have in common is a nostalgic intellectual approach: a benevolent, helpful realism on the one hand, and on the other hand, an almost cartoonish search for a past, cast in a naive, wistful, flowery language. Every one of the authors waxes nostalgic about the old linen clothes, boots, and bodices, which they consider to be typically Hungarian, and are averse to the new materials and garments: “Our people were happy in their own simplicity. Today they have been corrupted by silk rags...”. “Both in levente performances and in church, we condemn the imitation of foreign fads and encourage our sensible godly people to stay in their original happy, pre-war (i.e., World War I) lives and customs,” writes the cantor-teacher of Edelény in 1930 (NM EA 4728). “Girls and young women in bodices and boots have disappeared from our village completely, instead we have girls masquerading in crepe de Chine, sweaters, and silk stockings in front of the church.” “Everything has become new, foreign” – writes the teacher of Maconka in 1932 (NM EA 4698).
E.g. Alice Gáborján interprets the sometimes decades-long process of the embourgeoisement of clothing as the abandonment of traditional dress: the dress change begins with the footwear, continues on the upper body, followed by the skirts and trousers worn on the lower body, and finally the hairstyle and headdress. She considers the “complete victory of factory-made materials,” a curved cut line replacing straight cut lines, and the use of tinted and muted colors instead of pure, bright colors to be the criteria for abandonment (Gáborján 1976:9–10). However, Edit Fél considers the latter features, and even the use of shoes, to be characteristic of the “newer costumes” in their anachronistic late bloom in the 20th century (the costumes of Kalocsa, Vác, the Pest area, and the Galga river valley) (Fél 1962:26).
Bogatyrev 1971:93–94 also describes the process as “A Change in Costume as a change in the whole Structure of Life.”
To the knowledge of my informants, the Hungarians from Kalotaszeg were not just buying for their own needs; they also passed on the costumes brought from Hungary to the surrounding Romanian villages for good money.
Kalotaszeg is a Calvinist Hungarian ethnographic group of about 40 settlements, famous for its folk art, in Transylvania, near Cluj-Napoca, Romania. After the construction of the railway at the end of the 19th century, the women of some of the villages of Kalotaszeg earned extra income through more mobile, savvy, peripatetic trading activities.
I collected the data in Mezőkövesd, Kazár, Varsány, in the Galga river valley, in Sióagárd, and Szebény. I also wrote on the topic in more detail in a separate study (Fülemile 1991a). The commercial embroidery activity of the Matyós is also mentioned in Hofer – Fél 1975:51; Fügedi 1997:59, 118, 2001b:57; and Kapros 2004:225–238. Research also clarified the role of the Jewish merchants of Mezőkövesd in the management and organization of embroidery activities (Szarvas 1990).
The staunchly Catholic town of Mezőkövesd, where many poor people earned money through seasonal harvesting jobs on big landed estates, was “famous” for its costume and embroidery. There was an oft-repeated saying among the peasants of Mezőkövesd: “Don’t care if the tummy growls, as long as the outfit vows.” The discovery of the Matyó (a regional nickname) folk art of Mezőkövesd put the town in the focus of intellectual, middle-class, and tourist interest at the turn of the 20th century (Fügedi 2001a). Typical of the success story of Mezőkövesd was a 1912 event, an opera ball organized in Budapest, where aristocrats and elites dressed in Matyó peasant outfits. Middle- class traders organized a well-functioning network of cottage industry and merchandised Matyó embroidery not only in Hungary but in Europe and the States as well. To this day, Matyó “dolls” and embroidery motifs on miniaturized “gadgets” are some of the most marketable tourist souvenirs in folk art shops in Hungary.
It goes without saying that the local landowner and everyone around him, as well as the intellectuals, the craftsmen, and the merchants dressed according to urban fashions before World War II. But there may also have been differences between certain groups of the peasant population. For example, if there was a manor in the settlement, alien, migrant servants also stood out in the way they dressed. In the case of religious and ethnic divisions, the local peasant population could also wear a variety of costumes. (A good example is the case of Érsekcsanád on the left bank of the Danube, where the Calvinists married into the villages of the Sárköz on the other side of the Danube and their costumes were related to those of Sárköz, while the Catholics living in the same village wore costumes that were different than those of the Calvinists.)
It is mentioned in footnote 43 too.
This was true in the past at the time of costume abandonment, but it did not necessarily apply to the costume retention practices of the 1980s. Some of the women still wearing traditional costume at that time have accepted some elements of the urban lifestyle, e.g., in Zsámbok. More on Zsámbok costume, see Péterbencze 1990.
An interesting way of the simultaneous presence of peasant and urban dress is described in Fél – Hofer 1969b:277. In Átány, while older women wore costume, marriageable girls and young women dressed in contemporary urban fashions. The dictators of fashion were the daughters and wives of prosperous farmers who had their clothes made by seamstresses in the city. Once their youth – when they followed the fashion of the capital – passed, they put on the dark-colored peasant clothing that was customary in the village. This way of dressing of young women, what they call stylin’, has been observed since the late 19th century.
In Kazár, for example, the typical Palóc load-carrying equipment, such as the hamvas (a type of tablecloth) or the four-legged satchel (a crash cloth satchel that can be worn as a backpack) were still used for certain types of work by those who no longer wore costume.
Here we refer to the fundamental study on body technique by Marcell Mauss 1973. It is also worth noting here that Edit Fél pointed out the differences between traditional movement and gestures necessitated by costume and urban movement after abandonment of costume in Mezőkövesd, also draws attention to the fact that theoretical knowledge of ideal movement does not necessarily mean its perfect execution. “Even though we have abandoned our costume, we can still be recognized.” “We were born Matyó, the Matyó people will never be city folk”, she cites her informants, and adds, “That is, they are very much aware that their ‘urban’ posture and movement are still different from those of real urbanites, and do not even believe that they can catch up to it in modernity, but remain midway to it, looking ahead with constant nostalgia. But they also keep looking back with nostalgia” (Fél 1952:410). Katalin Gergely’s observations also confirm that the forms of movement required by costume “survived for a long time after taking off the costume,” “the usual motor movements do not serve to display the new style of clothing, but to draw attention to the disharmony between the two” (Gergely 1981:231). Petánovics 1971:329 also observes the same phenomenon.
They may have had it specially made, but most often they bought it as a ready-made garment, or on the black market. (In the second half of the 1960s, first half of the 70s, there was a specific black market for housecoats, too. The select few who had the opportunity to travel west so early on imported these much-sought-after, in-demand, brightly patterned housecoats made of synthetic materials, from the sale of which they could supplement their meager earnings.) To this day, it can be found in the offerings of clothing vendors frequenting rural fairs and weekly markets.
However, my collection experiences in Madocsa on the Danube and in Apátfalva on the Southern Great Plain (as well as family photos from the 1920s-30s) are a reminder that there may be other alternatives to the course of costume abandonment and post-abandonment urban dressing in the case of peasant-bourgeois type costumes than the ones described above. The research carried out in Kecel on the Great Plain also seems to prove this. “With the vanishing of an easily adaptable style, which has always been open to urban fashions, there wasn’t such a sudden halt and confusion in style, and consequently the adoption of a completely styleless, homogeneous urban style; instead, a tasteful, eclectic, fashion-conscious urban style appeared in Kecel.” (Gergely 1984:817). Throughout her collecting (Varsány, Kecel), Gergely pointed out certain persistent traditional features not only in the clothing of the first generation of costume abandoners but also in the urban dress of the younger age groups who have never worn costume, such as the principle of quantitative accumulation in the compilation of the dowry and a preference for home-made over ready-made, by accepting “the mediation of a specialist, the seamstress” (Gergely 1981:228–229).
In any case, it is certain that in the 1960s and early 1970s, having clothes custom-made by a dressmaker was much more common, not only among peasants but also among workers and urban intellectuals, than in later years. This can be partly explained by the traditional prestige of small- scale crafts and the tailoring industry held over from the past, and the ready-made garment industry being in its infancy. Going to a dressmaker began to peter out only in the second half of the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s.
Ide-s-tovamenő / errand-running or jönni-menni / come-and-go costume is a semi-formal attire for running administrative errands, going to the town-hall, school, rectory, doctor, city, market, shops etc. A fine analysis of the wardrobe and dressing practices of a woman from the village of Patak, who happened to be the cleaning lady at the Palóc Museum in Balassagyarmat, written by museologist/ethnographer Márta Kapros, who documented and studied the woman’s come-and-go costume repertoire day after day throughout an entire year in 1985. Kapros 1991, 1994, 1995.
Note that in villages, urbanized underwear, underpants with long legs and stockings, started to be worn under the traditional upper garments only from the 1930s-40s. Bras and short-cut pants were worn by women in the countryside only from the 1960s-70s.
The best examples of the difference in mentality expressed in clothing are Bag and Zsámbok. The two villages are not far from each other, both located near Gödöllő, and although they do not belong to the same costume group, they have a similar economic and social background. Nevertheless, their dress strategy, their costume culture preserved into the 1980s is different, having retained and highlighted different elements of the costume as the characteristic, significant element of their dress. Zsámbok – where the age of those still wearing costume was the lowest of the villages studied, 42-43 years old in 1987 – was characterized by a spirit of constant experimenting innovation, the acceptance of elements that might have seemed extreme. Their new use of costume may seem more exhibitionistic and provocative compared to the traditional. Costume in Bag, on the other hand, was characterized by restraint and respect for traditional solutions both in the past and in the studied period. There are no radical changes, even the preserved costume is simpler than that of Zsámbok, but it is still definitely local in nature.
The composition of an actual traditional outfit in the past and still in the time of the study, started with picking the skirt appropriate for the occasion (in material, color, pattern, and embellishment) and then the other pieces of the outfit were matched to it, a proper shawl or vest, and finally an apron and headscarf. Coloring changed with the age of the wearer and the rank of the occasion. Colors were ranked differently; there were more festive and less festive colors. In some regions, even each of the four Sundays in a month had a required color in the order of rank, the first Sunday being on the top of the hierarchy.
Folklorism is a conscious value-fabrication process, a result of the interest of other social groups in the folk culture of “peasants”. In a nostalgic search for authenticity, certain cultural elements were highlighted, reinterpreted, revived, reapplied, and inserted into other contexts to achieve new meanings and symbolism.
The debates over folklorism in Hungarian ethnography and European ethnology were particularly lively in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. A survey of these – with a useful bibliographic overview from an American perspective – is provided by Šmidchens, Guntis 1999. The elaboration of the theoretical framework of folklorism studies in Hungary was pioneered by Vilmos Voigt, who devoted several works (not listed here) to the issue.
Between the two world wars, the romanticized, theatrical, and festival-like showcasing of the countryside – a counterpoint to Budapest as a worldly metropolis – played an important role in the redefined touristic self-image of post-Trianon Hungary struggling with the trauma of significant territorial losses after World War I. (The Trianon Peace Treaty of 1920, which disintegrated the territory of the Hungarian Kingdom, is named after the chateau in Versailles, France where it was signed.) The folk motif use of Hungarian ‘Art Deco’ artists of the 1930s and ‘40s, the patriotic Hungarian-style dress movement (marked by the names of Ferenc Ferenczy and and the Budapest Pántlika Salon of the designer Klára Tüdős) and the Gyöngyösbokréta movement, all fit into this trend.
Röpülj páva (Fly Peacock) was a televised folk song talent show in 1969-1970. Other Fly Peacock contests were organized in 1973, 1977, 1981, and 1983. With only one TV channel in the country, the sole medium enjoyed enormous publicity. The show accelerated the establishment of several Fly Peacock circles (Pávakör/Peacock Circle) in many localities in the countryside. The show brought “heritage preservation ensembles”, choirs and zither bands, middle aged and elderly women and men dressed in the traditional or quasi-traditional costumes of their villages into the spotlight. As a result, people began to see the value in their recently abandoned local folk culture. For more on folk talent shows, see: Balogh – Fülemile 2008:47, 48, 59.
Members of the so-called nomadic generation folk craft movement that was gaining ground around the same time were also motivated by the preservation of the traditional knowledge of vanishing crafts. In contrast to the template-based market production practice of socialist-era cottage industry cooperatives that left the patterns of folk art devoid of meaning, they explored the deeper, meaningful layers of peasant culture, the possibilities of preserving natural artifact creation and traditional complex knowledge.
On the folk art movement of the 1970s and 80s as a form of grassroots resistance of urban young people in socialist Hungary, see Balogh – Fülemile 2008.
Having both types of wardrobe was also a sign of prosperity in Varsány (Gergely 1978:267–268). Jávor 1978:307 points out that aspects of prestige also played a role in the popularity of the dress of the ‘Maidens of Mary’ in Varsány, which was worn during Catholic church processions.
Aunt Kati Mancsi was the most famous writing woman, innovative personality of the village (born in 1905 and still active in 1987). Her name was associated with the first embroidering of the bodice in the 1920s and the first floral embroidering of silk aprons in the 1960s. She introduced newer and newer colors and motifs. Her activities practically not only accompanied but also shaped the late 20th century high period of the costume and embroidery of Sióagárd. Adapting to modern needs, in the 1970s and 80s she “wrote” or embroidered table runners and pillows for modern Varia furniture (wardrobe, coffee table, armchair), and the framed embroidery tapestry and embroidery tray (glass tray with wooden frame, embroidery under the glass) was her “invention.”
An analysis of a 1987 harvest ball of a Calvinist church congregation near Chicago illustrates how the practice of the harvest ball and the Hungarian dress or other folk costumes worn there express the ethnic identity of American Hungarians (Fejős 1987).
Hóstát is a district in the Eastern part of Kolozsvár/Clausenburg/Cluj, part of a former ring of garden villages outside the medieval city walls, where burgher-peasants specialized in farming and produced food for the city.
I purposefully used the term repi-ajándék (swag) here, an epithet characteristic of Hungarian socialism. In effect, it is a representative/promotional gift.
Until 1960, before the doll, the customary redemption for a bride in Tura was an apple, later a teddy bear.
There are many examples for the use of costume-related expressions, including costumed dolls as an ethnic symbol. The symbolic meaning can be especially demonstrative in ethnic minority and diaspora situations. The custom of acquiring/making and displaying dolls is also prevalent among American Hungarians. The doll, logically dressed in Hungarian dress and considered a “valued ornament of Hungarian homes,” is interpreted as an “ethnic symbol” (Fejős 1987:278). (Numerous articles on the articulation of ethnic symbols have been published. I do not consider it necessary to review the relevant ethnographic literature here.)
In the 1980s-1990s at “It is a Small World (after All)” Disneyland in Los Angeles (a classic Disney boat ride around the globe showcasing animatronic dancing dolls in traditional costumes, originally created for the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair, personally overseen by Walt Disney in support of UNICEF and shipped to and operating in Disneyland since 1966), an accurately dressed life-sized doll from Kazár was displayed among the other Eastern European displays. Knowing the original Kazár costume, I was surprised to experience and acknowledge the authenticity of the display.
Such as Aunt Panni, my main source and host in Kazár, whom we had to bid farewell to in February 2010. At the time of her funeral, only four among the approximately 100 women who once represented her community of women in traditional dress during the 1980s were still alive, and only one would still venture out into the streets. No longer are there occasions in Kazár to wear traditional dress in its original function; only members of the local folk dance ensemble and the heritage preservation group wear costume for local events, stage performances, and festivals.
An analysis on current phenomena of afterlife of folk art in Kalotaszeg region, see Balogh – Fülemile 2020.
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)| false Bali, János 2010. “Otthonka, nemcsak otthonra!”: A köznépi női viselet és a divat kapcsolatának példája az 1960-as évek végétől napjainkig [“A Housecoat Not Just for the House!”: An Example of the Relationship between Popular Women’s Wear and Fashion from the Late 1960s to the Present Day]. In (eds.) Inde aurum–inde vinum–inde–salutem. Paládi-Kovács Attila 70. születésnapjára, – Bali, János – Báti, Anikó Kiss, Réka 438–447. Budapest: ELTE BTK Faculty of Ethnography–MTA Ethnographical Institute.
Balogh, Balázs 2009. Egy férfigeneráció sorsa Tápon a téeszesítéstől napjainkig [The Fate of a Male Generation in Táp from Collectivization to the Present Day]. In Berta, Péter – Hoppál, Mihály (eds.) Ethnolore. Az MTA Néprajzi Kutatóintézetének Évkönyve XXVI. 289–325. Budapest: MTA Néprajzi Kutatóintézet.
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)| false Balogh, Balázs 2009. Egy férfigeneráció sorsa Tápon a téeszesítéstől napjainkig [The Fate of a Male Generation in Táp from Collectivization to the Present Day]. In (eds.) Ethnolore. – Berta, Péter Hoppál, Mihály Az MTA Néprajzi Kutatóintézetének ÉvkönyveXXVI. 289– 325. Budapest: MTA Néprajzi Kutatóintézet.
Balogh, Balázs 2010. Az amerikai magyarok óhaza képe [Images of the Old Country among Hungarian Americans]. In Bali, János – Báti, Anikó – Kiss, Réka (eds.) Inde aurum–inde vinum–inde–salutem. Paládi-Kovács Attila 70. születésnapjára, 429–437. Budapest: ELTE BTK Faculty of Ethnography–MTA Ethnographical Institute.
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