Wondrous Antique Embroidery Motifs on this Late 1800s Peasant Blouse
The good thing about being an antique collector is that you never know what you will find. The adventure begins when you find something very old and rare. It’s curiosity that’s pushing you forward to dig in deeper into the story and try to find out as much as possible about the rare antique.
Did I say rare? This time is a unique embroidered peasant blouse that we were so thrilled to find, and today I’m so excited to show it to you guys!
The blouse is heavily embellished with tiny, intricate antique embroidery motifs making it a true piece of art. I knew it’s an old piece from the moment I saw it. There were clues, like the use of metallic thread in the embroidered design, indicating it dates back to at least 100 years ago.
Although we found it in the region of Bucovina, the composition, the structure and distribution of the ornamental field, even the motifs, were different than any other embroidered peasant blouse specific to this ethnographic area.
Establishing the origin can be a tricky business. There are various styles of folk blouses throughout Romania, within the same ethnographic zone, and even if you go from one village to another. I would have never guessed it anyway…
After contacting Georgiana Onoiu, ethnographer, museologist at “Dimitrie Gusti” National Village Museum, her answer was a big surprise. The blouse originates from Timiș, a county located in Western Romania, in the region of Banat. “It is a very beautiful piece crafted by the Bulgarian women from Banat”, she said, made in the late XIX century. According to Wikipedia, the “Banat Bulgarians are a distinct Bulgarian minority group which settled in the 18th century in the region of Banat”.
The blouse is made of a handwoven cotton cloth, decorated with original metallic thread, colored cotton and silk. The antique embroidery motifs are so small that they can barely be seen with the naked eye. I believe she used a magnifying glass.
Two narrow ornamental lines of tiny geometric stylized flowers alongside a wide vertical ornamental row, featuring geometric v shape stripes worked using broderie peste fire – over thread stitch technique, flow down from the neck to the folded cuffs.
Gathering technique is used to narrow the folded cuffs around the wrist and keep it in place. A velvet applique is stitched over the gathers.
Velvet fabric was rare and expensive back then, therefore the maker probably considered it a precious find and she was thrilled to sew it onto the blouse.
Gathering or pleating is used to narrow and fit the front and back side of the blouse around the collar.
A heavy embroidery is worked over the gathers at the upper chest level.
Collar is decorated with minuscule and dense stitches cusătură la fir, worked from left to right, producing geometric patterns, among which one can recognize the rhombus rombul, a diamond shaped pattern representing a solar symbol.
The joining seams are not to be ignored. Instead hiding the joining seams, the peasant woman would rather highlight them with decorative stitches.
The body of the blouse stan, the sleeves and the two side pieces of material pave are joined at the front with chain stitches lănțișor pe muchie and crochet seams cheiță (literally translates to little key) and with black seams at the back colțișori – literally little fangs.
Small chain stitches are used to outline the rows on sleeves and the velvet applique seam at the cuffs and neck.
Cuff edges are rolled and fixed in place with decorative stitches.
Back then, the peasant women were married by age 18. No wonder the blouse is a size XS and I could barely fasten it around my neck.
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