If someone ever asks you to give them a lesson in the complexities of Balkan history, diversity of Balkan ethnography, and fluidity of Balkan linguistics, just point them to Vlasina and Krajište. It’s got it all.
Apologies for my absence. The demands of my job have kept me from posting new things on the blog, but I assure you that good things are coming. I’m actively researching, restoring and taking photos for upcoming posts that I hope you will find interesting.
Leskovac and its surroundings have been part of the Serbian state since its emergence in the early middle ages. From the rule of an unnamed Serbian Prince, whom Constantine Porphyrogenitos describes as being a vassal of “Emperor Heraclitus, when Bulgaria was under the Romaion” (i.e. before the establishment of a Bulgarian state). The Leskovac district, then known as Dubočica, was under the rule of the Vlastimirović princes through the 8th to 10h centuries, and under Stefan Nemanja, it became part of the state of Raška in the 12th century.
Throughout their history, Slavic men’s costumes invariably have included some sort of vest or sleeveless upper garment. It is known among Eastern, Western and Southern Slavs, and the Serbs (belonging to the Southern Slavic branch) are certainly no exception. The vest, or jelek, has changed over the centuries, influenced by the cultures that shaped our history.
An eternal question, one that pops up very frequently in Serbian folk songs… Sorry, Madonna – before you, it was the Serbs who asked, “Who’s that girl?”
Five hundred years of Turkish presence in the Balkans left many indelible marks, tangible and spiritual, on our people. In material culture, there have been many garments that were influenced by, or borrowed from, Ottoman Turkish culture. Continue reading
The preparation of textile fibres and the production of fabrics engaged Serbian peasants for much of their year. While some tasks were performed by both men and women, it was the woman’s prerogative to produce threads and yarns from processed fibres using their spindle and distaffs, their preslice and their vretena. Continue reading
I’ve been fortunate to have acquired a lot of interesting costume pieces over the years, some as purchases but many as gifts. Not all of them have been big items, or rare ones. Socks are an overlooked piece of folk dress and I’d like to share some of the beautiful Eastern Serbian examples I have.
There is perhaps no costume element more elegant than the libade, a woman’s garment that became part of the urban costume. Its adoption into Serbian textile culture and spread throughout Serbian lands has some interesting historic roots. Continue reading