Folk Dress in Moravia

The 70th International Folklore Festival Strážnice 2015 saw the gala opening of the exhibition Folk Dress in Moravia, which is one of the outcomes from the Programme of Applied Research and Development of the National and Cultural Identity (NAKI).

An independent presentation can be seen at

Due to its exceptional situation, Moravia is an intersection of the influences from several significant regions with peculiar culture of clothing. In the East, bordering on the Carpathians, garments associated with shepherd´s culture were worn; several elements of this culture penetrated to Wallachia and the ethnographic area of Moravské Kopanice. The South and South-East with the ethnographic areas of Podluží and Strážnicko are closer to the lowlands in Western Slovakia and Pannonia. The ethnographic area of Haná, which is situated in the core of the lowlands along the Morava River, has preserved several elements of home-made clothing constructions the history of which goes back to the Middle Ages. In contrast, Northern, Western and partially Central and Southern Moravia bear traces of Western-European styled clothing the urban variants of which penetrated to the countryside from the late 18th century. The western type of folk costumes reached the northern part of the Kyjov area in the past, and it has survived in Vracov. Some of the western type´s elements, such as women´s and men´s vests and jackets, penetrated further to the East, to the neighbouring regions where they changed the established form of folk costumes slowly. These influences and combinations have resulted in an unusual variety of folk costumes. In the ethnographic area of Slovácko, this variety features very sharp borderlines between particular districts where folk costumes often differ from village to village. The differences can be observed in colours, used materials, composition of garments and their construction where one ensemble can include items of various age.

Taking into consideration the diversity of clothing material, we have divided the exhibition into three exhibition halls. Each of them presents a certain geographical part of Moravia and particular situations and types of folk costumes which the rural residents used to wear. The entrance hall pays homage to Slovácko, an ethnographic area where folk costumes were worn for the longest time and which features the biggest quantity of folk-costume types. The exhibited ensembles present ceremonial and festival clothes worn by brides and bridegrooms, their parents, bridesmaids and groomsmen and wedding guests. The second part of the exhibition creates the atmosphere of a fair. Fairs were gatherings of people who came from near and far away; for this reason, the fairs were typical for a variety of folk costumes and dialects. You can see residents from Southern, Western and Central Moravia who set out on the journey to Brno. This hall shows also clothing worn by national minorities that lived in Moravia, whether Croatians from the Mikulov area or German-speaking inhabitants in the Jihlava and Vyškov areas and the Hřebečsko region. The last exhibition hall introduces pious pilgrims from the ethnographic areas of Haná and Wallachia, who met in Velehrad, a pilgrimage site where they came to celebrate the anniversary of Cyril and Methodius.

Emil Zavadil as an architect of the exhibition undertook the complicated task to dress dummies in exhibited folk costumes. Dummies´ bodies consist of a wire skeleton wrapped in soft foam material. This allows the dummies to be installed in a particular stance, gesture and expression multiplied by the cast of face. The architect tried to give the figures a hint of their inner life which can be expressed by the face only. Irena Armutidisová, a young sculptor, made several types of faces for men and women in their young, middle and old age. Several fades of flesh colour and the play of light and shadow make an impression that each face is an original. The intentionally minimalistic exposition emphasizes its object-matter which is the folk costume. Yet the exhibition does not give an impression of being empty or static. One of the reasons for this are also details which are very natural so that we can notice them only after a certain delay.

We wish all the visitors to the exhibition to get captivated by the beauty of folk clothing whose rare colours and composition of shapes are so different from the contemporary clothing. We would like to put you in a good mood and to encourage you to think about our forefathers´ skills and aesthetical feeling which allowed them to create their clothing. We hope that you will acquire new knowledge and enjoy the folk costumes and accessories which spent years in repositories. Let them introduce their beauty to you.

PhDr.  Martin Šimša, PhD.
author of the exhibition