Orpheus Costume Collection

CORFU (Kerkyra)
CYPRUS (Kypros)
EMBONA (Rhodes)
FOUSTANELA (Central Greece)
GIDA (Macedonia)
KARAGOUNA (Thessaly)
MANI (Peloponnese)
THASSOS (North Aegean)


Corfu is the northern-most of the Ionian Islands off the west coast of Greece.  This particular version of the Corfu female costume comes from the region of Lefkimmi.  This urban western style of dress was worn in approximately 20 villages in southern Corfu.  It consists of  the following pieces:  a white cotton camisole, a silk or taffeta skirt, a close-fitting belt made of gold-embroidered velvet, an apron made of fine silk organza or tulle and embroidered with colorful silk threads of ribbons, and finally, a  gold-embroidered velvet waistcoat.  Across the chest are worn gold brooches and heavy gold chains.  The headpiece is adorned with flowers and a white tulle or organza scarf.   A characteristic item is the large dangling earring worn only in the right ear.  Since the turn of the century, flat patent leather shoes decorated with silver buckles and large black or red bows are worn.

 The basic components of the Cypriot male costume are the densely pleated baggy trousers, vraka, which is common in all the Greek islands, and the waistcoat, gileko, or jacket, zibouni.  This apparent uniformity is punctuated by some local features, manifest in the size of the vraka and the color of the cloth used for the chest garment.  These characteristics used to be indicative of the wearer’s origins. The vraka is made of coarse hand-woven dimity, which was dyed, after sewing, by local dyers, poyatzides; black for elderly men, blue for younger ones.  The vraka varied in size and shape from region to region.  The vraka for “best” wear was very wide, requiring forty piches (yards) of dimity (sheer double-threaded cotton fabric).  The bustle, sella, which hung behind, was densely pleated, prosiasma.  This was normally tucked up into the belt and only left to hang freely when the wearer went to church.  The vraka is worn with a chemise or shirt of dark striped cotton material every day and of silk on Sundays.  The silk shirt was a basic garment of the groom’s costume -- being a present from his bride-to-be -- like his kerchief which was symbolic of their union and tied around his neck during the wedding ceremony.  The cut of the shirt and the manner in which it was sewn and embellished varied according to region.

The Embona costume is a festal costume, worn down to the present day, from a mountain village on the island of Rhodes, which has kept tradition alive in this way.  It consists of a white woven poukamissa with silk embroidery at the jabot, sleeves and hem, a pleated sleeveless dress of a black (or white) cotton silk material, decorated with fine multicolor braid, and the red knitted belt with fringes, wound twice round the waist.  High leather boots are worn with this costume.  The headgear is made up of a white cotton cap with coins add a yellow (or other colors) triangular kerchief with print flower decoration and long fringes.

The male Epirotan costume is characteristic for its pair of pants, called “bourazana” or “ panovraki”, which resembles the Macedonian “salvaria” or “vrakia”. The pants are either white or black. The white “bourazana” is worn with a white wide sleeve shirt that is similar to the one worn with the foustanella (Evzone) costume, while the black version has narrow sleeves. The white version was worn during festive occasions while the black one was for everyday use. The “gileki” (vest), a small black bolero, was also worn daily. During festive occasions, the “pis’li” was worn. It is a vest with long sleeves that hang over the back from the shoulders, like the sleeves from the “foustanella” costume. The hand woven sash is more than fifteen feet long and served as a case for various objects. The shoes for this costume consist of the “tsarouchia” and the “skoufi”, a black felt cap, covers the head. The “kalpaki”, a different kind of cap, was made of astrakhan fur. This costume is characteristic in Epiros, Greece’s northwestern region, and particularly around the city of Yiannena but was also worn by the Sarakatsanoi nomads and Vlachs that settled in the area.  

 This male costume was worn mainly in the central and southern regions of Greece. The costume derives its name from the pleated white skirt (foustanela) made of many triangular shaped pieces of cloth sewn together diagonally. The foustanela was worn by the Greek fighters of the 1821 revolution and today it serves as the official uniform of the Evzones, Greece’s Presidential Guard, who can be seen guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens. The foustanela skirt consists of 400 pleats symbolizing the years during which Greece was under Ottoman rule. The remainder of the costume is composed of a white shirt with very wide flowing sleeves, an embroidered woolen vest, a sash worn around the waist, and shoes (tsarouhia) with large pompons.

 This female Gida costume comes from the Roumlouki area of central Macedonia and is considered a village style of dress.  The main piece of the costume is an outer coat (sayias) of either white or dark blue, with decorative flaps which fold to the back revealing rich embroidery. Under this is worn a long white chemise. Both the black woven belt and apron are decorated with distinctive colored patterns. The headdress, which is made of white scarves and black tassels, is decorated with multicolored flowers and is said to resemble the helmets of the ancient Greeks during the era of Alexander the Great.  Multiple silver chains adorn both the headdress and the apron. 

 Scattered over the plain of Thessaly in central Greece are the villages of the Karagouni from which this costume derives its name. This is the simplified version of the Karagouna wedding dress with bright colors symbolizing the wealth of the valley of Thessaly. The undergarment is a long tunic which is hemmed in black fringe and covered by a pleated white overcoat decorated with embroidery. A matching red velvet vest is worn over the overcoat.  Arm bands with black or multicolored fringe are a distinctive feature of this costume. Worn around the waist is a red felt apron with a broad velveteen band embroidered with gold thread. The headpiece consists of a black embroidered scarf wrapped and then twisted around the head and decorated with gold coins across the forehead. Across the bosom are worn many rows of chains with coins which symbolized the wealth of the bride.  The apron is also decorated with a brooch and silver or gold chain piece.

 In general, the male costume of Macedonia includes a pair of white cotton undergarments, a pair of black woolen pants, a billowing white cotton shirt, a waistcoat, and a long wide sash.  On the legs are worn broidered woolen socks and pigskin laced shoes.  In the old days, men wore a red fez which has now been replaced by a black cloth cap.

The Mani costume is a festal costume of the 18th century, which in the austerity of its design and its simple symbolic decoration reflects the characteristics of the closed community which created it.  It consists of a long white cotton tunic from the loom, embroidered at the borders with multicolored silks, and the velesi, a sleeveless dress in darl-colored woven wool. The sole decoration on the velesi is the band of red material on the inside of the hem and a broad red cotton band on the middle of the skirt - bougazi, decorated all round with white and yellow intertwined threads.  A striped silk girdle is wound round the waist.  The headgear consists of a dark green silk kerchief taking the sahpe of a 'crown' - the kefaloyouri - and the pure sil shawl - bolia, which is wound all round it and covers the neck and shoulders.

 The village of Metaxades lies in the mountains near the border with Bulgaria and this style of dress has many similarities with those of its Slavic neighbors. OHFS’ particular version of the costume consists of a white cotton under-dress with long sleeves. Over this is worn a black Thracian tsoukna, a sleeveless cotton over-dress. The tsoukna is heavily embroidered around the bodice with multi-colored threads. The openings to the right and left (through which the village women breast-fed their babies) are also trimmed with embroidery. On top of the tsoukna there is a woven apron held in place by the famous Thracian enameled belt. The barboula, or headdress, consists of several multi-colored floral scarves which are decorated with flowers. To complete the ensemble, there are beaded perilemia (necklaces), patterned knit stockings and terlikia (embroidered cloth slippers). 

This is the costume of the Sarakatsanoi who were a nomadic Greek people: animal farmers who traveled between Asia Minor and southern Greece.  Every item of the Sarakatsana costume was handmade. Only the jewelry, shoes and cotton used to weave the  blouse were bought. The costume consists of an inside cotton blouse covered by a pleated black woolen dress. This is followed by a sleeveless jacket which is covered by a pleated collar and an apron.  Woolen leg and arm coverings complete the outfit. The long braided hair was covered by a black woolen scarf. Distinctive clogs (tsarouhia) with decorative pompons on the toes were usually worn.  Heavy silver bracelets, earrings and belts were also worn to complement the costume

The Thassos bridal blouse was made of fine silk or a mixture of cotton and silk.  The best ones were trimmed with little crocheted cockerels around the opening of the bodice and the cuffs.  Over this was worn the "alatzas", a narrow-sleeved waistcoat sewn by an island tailor, using striped silk or cotton-and-silk cloth; at the bottom of the sleeves were "tongues" which were trimmed with gold braid, as was the bodice.  On top went a sleeveless pinafore, likewise stitched by a tailor using expensive cloth or taffeta, and embroidered with gold around the opening of the bodice.  Round the waist was tied a silk apron trimmed with little pleats, gold lace and bands of different-colored material.  The belt, which was made of velvet or gold-embroidered silk, fastened at the front with a heavy silver clasp.  The black felt waistcoat was the most richly embroidered garment worn, and for this work the tailor and embroiderer were paid handsomely in sovereigns.  At the beginning of this century, women stopped wearing the "Tzamandani" and added the "tongues" from its sleeves to the waistcoat in such a way as to make it appear to have two sets of sleeves.  The opening of the bodice of the blouse was fastened with a gold and often diamante clasp.   Wealthier bridegrooms used to hang one or two chains of gold coins around the bride's neck.  The bride's hair was plaited into braids and wrapped around the little flat fez, the top of which was embroidered with gold thread or covered with 4 or 5 coins.   A printed yellow cotton scarf was wound around the plaits to make the fez "sit" properly on the head.  For everyday use or attending church, a large printed woolen scarf "thiplarika" was thrown over the top.  For weddings and other special occasions, this was replaced by an expensive silk scarf, and great care was taken to ensure that each one had its own unique design.  If another woman bought one which was of the same design, it was not worn again; this custom was eventually deemed to be rather pretentious and fell into disuse some years ago.  The white stockings, either bought or home-knitted, were made of wool in the winter and cotton in the summer.   The women of Thassos also wore embroidered velvet slippers, but later replaced them with black leather lace-up shoes.

Last revised:
10 Jun 2017 05:22 PM