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The clothes are important articles in the research of national culture. In feudalism when there existed 2 cultures - that of the ruling classes and of the people of the national culture, the main traditional styles of the nation can be seen in the peasant's clothing. The Latvian national costumes of that time is that of the peasantry. The Latvian women span, wove and sewed themselves both work and party clothes. They used the traditional ways of clothes' making and trimming which had developed over centuries.
The development of article - money exchange economy and the financial differentiation of the peasantry was reflected in the clothes already in feudalism. The clothing of the richest peasants includes such articles as silk kerchiefs, ribbons, special married women’s caps, belts, silk or velvet waistcoats made by town craftsmen. The clothing of the poor people still contains the old clothes' making traditions.
In late 19th century the factory made cloths became more and more widespread. The national costume is not that of everyday wear anymore.
National costume is not only the museum value. It gives the opportunity to get acquainted with the national art traditions, the skills of its makers and ethnic taste. The artists, the members of folk art clubs, the designers of new cloths samples and clothing models can gain suggestions from national costumes more than any other branch of material culture. The rich variety of colours are everlasting source for applied art masters' creative work.
The material about the Latvian national costumes is very large. Many articles, pictures or descriptions have been found in the museums and archives, a lot of things are being kept in private collections.
The materials about national costumes in different Latvian regions have not been collected in the same amount. Large collections are in Lejaskurzeme, Ventspils, Kuldîga and Krustpils, but there is little information about Ziemelvidzeme and the largest part of Latgale. In such districts as Alsunga, partly in Rucava, Nica and Barta the peasants' clothes of feudalism were worn still in early 20th century. These districts have given the greatest part of the clothes collection.
The largest collection dates back to late 18th and 19th centuries s the most valuable articles like brooches, garlands, patterned woollen shawls were inherited by daughters.
The most decorative is the women’s national costume The rich imagination and skills in usage of colours, composition and ornaments can be seen there most of all. The woman’s national costume is the most widely represented. There is few material about the men’s , children, work clothes and fur coats.
We, too, start our review with Vidzeme, then Latgale, Zemgale and Augszeme, later following to Kurzeme, beginning with the northern part and finishing with Nica, Barta, Rucava. To show the composition and peculiarities of composition. We present 24 coloured pictures of clothes where both work, everyday wear and holiday clothes can be seen. Further in succession we’ll show separate articles - shirts, skirts, woollen shawls, belts, caps, footwear and trimming according to districts.