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LITHUANIA

Lithuanian national clothing is divided into pre-historic, historic and folk. An approximate image of pre-historic attire has been reconstructed based on remnants of clothing and various articles of adornment found at archeological cites. Garments from historic period have been collected into museums in Lithuania and other countries, and are depicted in ancient engravings and drawings.
Lithuanian folk national costumes, those worn by the rural population, are extremely varied and homespun. The patterns are complex and the color combinations subtle. Lithuanian national costumes are classified according to geographic region: Samogitia, Highland, Kapsai, Dzukija, Zanavykija, Vilnius region and Lithuania Minor. Though all Lithuanian national costumes are similar in appearance, they also differ in the diversity of patterns, color selection, different articles of clothing and method of wear.
In ancient times these garments were worn daily, as well as for visiting, holidays, weddings and other occasions. The weave, patterns, colors and style of current Lithuanian national costumes are adapted from models of old peasant garments.
Ancient Lithuanian national attire had certain characteristic traits:
  1. all pieces of clothing were made by the peasants from homespun yarn, bleached and dyed mostly with plant dyes;
  2. the weaving methods are traditional; the yarn varies in thickness thus diversifying the weaving technique;
  3. the motifs used in every article of clothing are greatly diversified;
  4. the colors are extremely varied and contrasting, for instance warm with cold;
  5. the cut of the garments is unique and every piece is finished differently: in overcast, crochet, with tassels or cord, etc.;
  6. the garment fasteners are metal, leather, string or wood.
Women's national costumes have more diversity than those of men. They incorporate more patterns, the colors are more varied, the weave, style and method of wear are established by traditions. Of utmost importance is that married and unmarried women wear different head coverings. People dressed one way for a wedding and another to go visiting or to church. National garments have never been a uniform, they were used for festive occasions, individual pieces were frequently changed creating new combinations and method of adornment.
The coordination of separate pieces of attire was also determined by certain esthetic rules: if one piece is very colorful, it is combined with a quieter, plainer piece; if one piece is very colorful, it is combined with a quieter, plainer piece; if one is darker in color, the other is lighter; if one is from the cold color family, the other is from the warm.
The basic pieces of a woman's national costume consist of: a long patterned or striped skirt, an apron, a shirt (white with embroidered sleeves, cuffs, shoulder tabs, front and collar, the amount of embroidery different according to region where worn); a bodice in a smaller pattern or striped to match the skirt; a head covering and amber heads (though earlier other materials were used) as neck ornaments. The legs are covered with patterned or stripped stockings and shod with soft-sole leather, wooden or low-heeled black shoes. The women of certain regions wore a long wide patterned sash tied around the waist and left hanging on one side.
An adult married woman wears a wimple or a patterned, checked (even white) kerchief. The heads of young girls are adorned with crowns made of plaited narrow sashes. From the headdress hang ribbons or sashes coordinated to the crown and national costume.
Men's national costumes are also homespun festive garments. The basic pieces consist of: long striped, diagonally striped or checked trousers onto whose lower portion darker stripes or patters have been woven. The trouser legs are tapered and fastened at the bottom or stuffed into socks. In certain areas of Lithuania men wore a loose waist - length vest in others a long jacket sometimes tied at the waist with a sash. A wide sash is also worn with the west, tied around the waist and to one side with the ends hanging to the knees. The shirt is made of thin white linen with long wide cuffed sleeves and an inverted collar. The cuffs, collar and at times the shoulder tabs are decorated with a narrow patterned sash or embroidery. A pattern sash or checked scarf is tied under the collar. The head covering is a wide brimmed straw hat. The socks are striped and soft sole leather shoes are worn. In certain regions of Lithuania men's attire is more colorful and patterned while in others more subdued and darker.
Boys' national costumes are similar to men's but they usually do not wear vests or jackets. Girls' garments are similar to women's. Young girls wear short checked or patterned skirts and white aprons embroidered with traditional motifs. The beds they wear are smaller, plainer and they usually do not tie sashes around their waists. Adolescent girls wear calf-length skirts. Girls wear small crowns with ribbons hanging down their back or flower wreaths.






Vilius Benetis, grade 12
School: Siauliai Dainai Secondary School, Lithuania

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