Unia Europejska
Limanowa Lachs

Limanowa Lachs

The Costume of Limanowa Lachs

After the Second World War, the Lach villages located in the Limanowa county, in the north-eastern reaches of the Island Beskids, between the Sącz Lachs in the east, and the Szczyrzyc Lachs in the northwest, began to be referred to as Limanowa Lachs by local regional culture specialists. As a separate ethnographic group centred around the town of Limanowa in the north-western edge of the Sącz District, the Limanowa Lachs began to take shape relatively late – only in the second half of the 19th century, under the Partitions of Poland. Their emergence was motivated by another change in the administrative division of Galicia that the Austrian authorities introduced in 1876 (which was already under the newly-gained autonomy).

The western part of the later Limanowa Lach group had for a long time (since prepartitioning times) remained under the influence of Szczyrzyc. It was here, around the parish village of Dobra and, according to some researchers, also around several highland settlements in the Zagórze Highland borderland (e.g. Gruszowiec, Jurków, Chyszówki and Półrzeczki) that a small but culturally distinctive, mixed Lach-Highland subregion emerged. In the ethnographic literature it is usually referred to as the Lachs of Dobra. In the northern part of the Limanowa Lach district, in the villages located in the Łososina river valley, the areas stretching from the surroudings of Tymbark and Piekiełko, through Pasierbiec, Młynne and Łososina Górna came under the cultural sway of both the Szczyrzyc Lachs and the Western Krakowiaks, mainly from the Raba river area including Dobczyce and Gdów. In the northeast, the villages located on the Łososina river, in the Ujanowice parish (e.g. Ujanowice, Sechna, Kobyłczyna, Żmiąca, Strzeszyce, Krosna, Kamionka Mała, Jaworzna), which covers the each of the former demesne of the Poor Clares in Stary Sącz, for a long time managed to preserve marked traces of affiliation with the Sącz Lachs, also visible in the local dress. The awareness of the same affiliation was even more pronounced and long-lasting in the eastern and south-eastern part of the group: in Pisarzowa, Kłodne, Męcina, Wysokie, Kanina and – partially – in Siekierczyna. The latter three villages have been recognised by contemporary ethnographers as “transitional” in their cultural character displaying elements typical of the Podegrodzie Lachs and Limanowa Lachs. The centre of the group in question, with the town of Limanowa, as well as Sowliny, Lipowe, Stara Wieś and Mordarka, had earlier had, as a peripheral area, slightly weaker links with the former parent region of the Sącz Lachs. Even though the relations with Nowy Sącz were still maintained, the environs of the capital of the new county opened up to the Cracow and Szczyrzyc influences coming in from the northwest (in part via Dobra and Tymbark). In time, this came to determine the character of the local folk clothing. The town itself, which was thriving under the new conditions, also had an impact on the cultural shape of the central subregion.

The oldest description of the local traditional folk attire dates from the early 19th century and concerns Dobra, an extensive village on the upper Łososina river, in the north-western part of the group. The account by J. Rostworowski included in Diariusz podróży odbytej 1813 roku w Krakowskie, Gallicyą i Sandecki Cyrkuł [A Diary of the 1813 journey to the Cracow District, Gallicya and the Sącz District] clearly shows a highland character of the described costume, especially its men’s variety (white cloth trousers and gunia, a short shirt, a highlander’s hat, kierpce), as well as a great quantity of homespun linen used in women’s attire. Linen shirts were short (of waist-length), had narrow trimming tied with coloured ribbon (of different colours in different villages). In winter, shirts were complemented by white cloth trousers of the “Hungarian cut;” they were very tight and girded around with a narrow, leather belt. In summer, they were replaced with linen trousers. Kierpce were worn as footwear – “highland footgear laced up with leather thongs.” A white cloth gunia jacket served as an outer garment; it was “embroidered in red cord.” When travelling, the Lachs would use “coloured rope-woven bags.” Over a white, linen blouse, a Lach woman would put a linen (frequently green) bodice, a colourful skirt and a white, linen apron girded around with a red, woollen belt (krajka). “For church or a visit to the fair”, she would fling over her shoulders – and sometimes also over her head – a long, white, linen reńtuch (a wrap), which reached down to the knees and was edged with “white fringe.” Women used to wear kierpce too. In those days, the highlandtype costume resembling the one described was probably also worn by the inhabitants of several villages on the upper Łososina river in the borderland of the Zagórze Highlanders, who were frequently included in the group of the Lachs of Dobra, as well as the inhabitants of Upper Słopnice. Men’s outfits worn at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries more and more often included new outer garments inspired by urban clothing, but sometimes were still made of homespun cloth. This “new fashion” can be well exemplified by a men’s jacket (called burka) borrowed from the urban fashion, made of corne (brown), siwe (grey) or white sheep cloth. Somewhat later, before the First World War, the villages around Limanowa witnessed a spreading fashion for a men’s coat with an urban cut, of snuff-coloured, machinemade cloth, called gurmana. At the beginning of the 20th century, in the northern and central part of the Limanowa Lach district, men’s festive attire came to include, as a permanent element, waistcoats, which had been borrowed from the urban fashion and already worn earlier; they had turndown collars with triangular lapels, two little pockets with rectangular flaps, and doublebreasted fastenings fitted with brass buttons. At the beginning of the 20th century, a hat – the socalled brusek – with a small, cupolaed dome and a slightly upturned brim, typical of the Szczyrzyc Lachs, decorated with a large bunch of dark rooster feathers, called pusa, became fashionable among unmarried men on the Łososina river and in the environs of Pisarzowa. In the immediate vicinity of Tymbark, it was customary to wear the so-called Dobra overcoat (sukmana dobrzańska), navy-blue trousers of machine-made cloth, calflength boots and brusek hats.

The villages located around the lower reaches of the Łososina river used to be subject to strong Szczyrzyc and Krakowiak influences. As early as the second half of the 19th century, under the influence of the Krakowiak fashion, the festive outfit came to include navy-blue trousers with an urban cut, of machine-made cloth, sometimes decorated along the leg seams with red cord. Also relatively early, men began to wear navy-blue cloth waistcoats with turndown collars, with triangular lapels and trimmed with red cloth. It was customary for an older woman to wear woollen, tight-fitting katanka (a cropped jacket), with a button fastener, modestly decorated with narrow lace, velvet ribbon or tucks. Shop, machine-made shoulder wraps were used as an outer garment. An ancient, linen łoktusa was slowly going out of fashion, just like a white linen or tulle mob-cap headscarf (called kogutek), which used to be an obligatory garment worn by married women on major holidays and festive occasions.

As late as the second half of the 19th century, in the north-eastern subregion, which encompassed the Ujanowice parish and the immediate vicinity of the village of Laskowa, located within the demesne formerly belonging to the Poor Clares of Stary Sącz, it was customary to wear Sącz Lach costumes, which were, however, characterised by more modest ornamentation than in the environs of Podegrodzie and Nowy Sącz. In his 1904 Materials from an Ethnographic Trip Seweryn Udziela writes that in those days, in this area it was customary to wear navy-blue cloth trousers called błękicie, with two przypory (slits) at the front decorated with only narrow trimming and red cloth side stripes sewn in along the leg seams. Men from affluent families sometimes (for major festive occasions) used to complement them with sandeckie (typical of Sącz Lachs) long-sleeved, navy-blue cloth tunics lined with red cloth, much more modestly decorated than in the central part of the group. A cylindrical, white, felted, hand-knitted woollen cap called magierka, with an upturned brim and a circular, flat-top crown was a distinct Krakowiak-style borrowing in the subregion in question. A women’s outfit worn in this region was not distinguishable against the whole region. Franciszek Bujak recollects that well-off women from Żmiąca used to wear festive linen costumes decorated with Makówstyle embroidery. It was elaborate, white broderie anglaise (cutwork) featuring floral patterns on white linen; such embroidery was traditionally commissioned in the renowned embroidery centre of Maków close to Sucha Beskidzka (presently Maków Podhalański). Linen shoulder shawls were commonly used as an outer garment. For festive occasions, it was customary for a well-off housewife to wear a fine rańtuch or a damask, Andrychów-style obrus as a shawl.

In such places as Pisarzowa, Kanina, Wysokie, Męcina i Kłodne, in the second half of the 19th century worn were Sącz Lach costumes, because  in those days the foregoing villages used to be inhabited by representatives of this ethnographic group. The costumes were more modest than the ones worn in the environs of Podegrodzie, because this area was less affluent. In Pisarzowa, górnica (a type of upper garment) had facings and a standing collar lined with dark-blue cloth. At the sides, around the waist there were also distinctive, protruding insets, which supported the belt. On festive occasions, well-off men would sometimes wear light blue cloth trousers and matching, short, simple-cut waistcoats with rows of metal buttons, edged with red cloth. The inhabitants of the remaining villages in the region, located further east used to wear górnica jackets with red facings. In colder seasons of the year, in Pisarzowa and the surrounding villages (especially in the south), like in the Podegrodzie Lach villages, it was customary to wear white cloth, highland trousers called gunioki, with two przypory (slits) and the seam extending from the legs onto the buttocks. In Pisarzowa they were decorated along the leg seams and around przypory with red and blue cord. They did not feature any embroidery. Cloth trousers continued to be worn well into the 1930s. Women’s outfits – both modest, casual and more formal ones – commonly included skirts (called farbówki) of linen dyed navy-blue or grey, or imprinted with light-coloured patterns against a dark background. In the 1880–90s, in Pisarzowa and the Lach villages in the newly-established Limanowa county in the east, in more affluent households, daughters would wear Podegrodziestyle bodices. On festive occasions, married women used to wear cloth or velvet wizytka cropped jackets with sleeves, decorated with serrated (w zęby) appliqués and bead embroidery. For major festivities married women would cover their heads with white mob-cap headscarves; they were tied into a knot on the forehead and had an embroidered corner trailing down the nape.

In the immediate vicinity of the town of Limanowa, i.e. in the villages of Sowliny, Lipowe, Stara Wieś, Siekierczyna and Mordarka, an older type of rural clothes fell into disuse a little earlier than in the areas more distant from the town. Towards the end of the 19th century, in the villages around Limanowa, on special occasions it was customary to wear tunics, both the Dobra-style and Sącz Lach ones (the latter ones were a seldom choice, because they were more expensive). Both tunics and waistcoats were complemented by cloth trousers (of machine-made fabric), dark-blue, navyblue or black ones (which were a favourite with elderly farmsteaders). Their only decoration was red cord running along the outer leg seams. As late as the end of the 19th century, women living in the villages around Limanowa would wear, on festive occasions and as a complement to traditional, white linen blouses with a przyramkowy (made of square pieces of material) cut with turndown collars, and white, ample, whitework skirts of the fartuch type, the then-fashionable katanka shortcropped jackets of coloured homespun linen, with quite thick linen lining. Wizytka (a type of sleeveless jacket extending below the waistline), made of cloth, velvet, plain or patterned woolen fabrics, and always with linen lining, served as a warmer outer garment.

In the last period of the traditional peasant culture (the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries) and in its declining years (around the second decade of the 20th century), the cultural differences between particular Limanowa Lach subgroups, which had earlier been quite distinct, were now rather blurred. Back then the peasant dress included numerous, intra-group borrowings: e.g. Dobra-style tunics, and in time also sukmana overcoats were also worn by affluent inhabitants of the villages in the environs of Limanowa; similarly, waistcoats of a newer type became very common, and the influence of the urban fashion was becoming visible throughout the area. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, an instrumental role in the changes to peasant outfits was played by the expansion of market availability of a variety of new, colourful and patterned machine-made fabrics, as well as a selection of attractive decorative materials. There appeared off-the-peg garments of the “rural” type (e.g. women’s shoulder shawls and headscarves), which caught on quite readily. The above-mentioned changes had an effect on the appearance of women’s outfits, which began changing their white homespun character into an increasingly colourful one.

Małgorzata Wójtowicz-Wierzbicka