Unia Europejska
Pogórze Highlanders

Pogórze Highlanders

The Festive and Everyday Attire of the Pogórze Highlanders

Pogórze Highlanders’ festive attire belonged to the group of the Polish Carpathian transitional outfits, which combined features of Highland and Małpolska lowland garments (especially the Cracow one). In the western part of the region, within the borders of the Małopolska Province, its ancient, traditional form disappeared actually as early as the beginning of the 20th century, which was related to the fact that the inhabitants of many villages in the Gorlice district were employed in the petroleum industry. The old type of attire, white in colour, was primarily made of home-made linen and homespun cloth. It showed Transcarpathian influence, mostly of Hungarian (e.g. the cut and ornamentation of cuwa) and Cracow origin (e.g. magierka caps, płótniaki trousers, women’s melizonka overcoats).

Men’s festive costume

In the traditional Pogórze folk costume, men’s festive shirts were made of thin and bleached, homespun linen. They had an oblong poncho cut (with no seams on the sleeves) or a gathered przyramkowy cut, where separate front and back parts were connected on the sleeves with rectangular przyramki(pieces of fabric). Shirts were almost knee-length and in general were worn na wypust (outside the trousers). Sometimes they were modestly decorated with white broderie anglaise featuring plant motifs (on the turndown collar, the cuffs and the front placket) or vertical tucks on the front, on either side of the slit.

In summer, the linen shirt was complemented with white, linen trousers called płócionki, which had wide, straight legs, had hemstitch (cyrka) at the bottom and short tassels made of threads pulled out of the weft and tied into bunches. On the festive costume, the trouser legs were tucked into the boot uppers. Well-off farmsteaders would also wear trousers of shop, siwy (greyish-blue), navy or black cloth. In winter (especially in the south of the region, on the Lemkivshchyna border) men used to wear thick, white cloth trousers called gunioki (chołośnie) of the highland type, with two slits trimmed around with dark-coloured woollen cord. Those were the only trousers shirts were tucked into. The belts worn were either long and narrow, wrapped around the waist at least two times, fastened with brass buckles, or the wider ones called trzosy, with a pocket (kaleta), fastened with several thongs and buckles. They were embellished with geometrical patterns and studded with brass ornaments (buttons, caps, nails).

In the Gorlice region, the waistcoat of factory-made cloth was typically grey (siwa), with long, broad flaps fastened with two rows of metal buttons. In the western reach of the group, in the Sącz county (in the environs of Korzenna, Lipnica Wielka), navy waistcoats resembled the Lach waistcoats: they had a small standing collar, two slash pockets with ogive flaps, and two rows of circular, convex, metal buttons on either side of the slit. All the edges had red trimmings. Right on the Sącz Lach border, Lach-style waistcoats used to be worn; they had one row of buttons and rectangular pocket flaps. The edges were trimmed with red cloth, and the standing collar was sometimes decorated with modest, Lach-style chain stitch embroidery featuring a wisełka motif.

A white, linen płótnianka (górnica) served as an outer garment; it was a kind of linen coat with an oblong poncho cut, gusset-flared from the waist down, with long sleeves and a standing collar. Wealthy farmstead owners used to line it, on the facings and the standing collar, with thin, red cloth. These coats were worn over shirts only or shirts and waistcoats. For festive occasions, a górnica was girded around with an ornamental trzos (a belt).

The most important and elegant highlight in Pogórze men’s festive dress was a white, homespun cloth cuwa, that is a long, ample and loose-fitting sukmana (an overcoat of an oblong poncho cut), with a large, rectangular collar trailing down the back. In the Gorlice region its edges were decorated with red trimmings and colourful appliqués of pieces of cloth (in the shape of circle quarters) in the collar corners. In general, the sukmana was loosely flung over the shoulders, and arms were not kept in the sleeves. The geographical reach of the cuwa would only extend up to the Biała Dunajcowa river, but not beyond it. In the villages located further west, white or brown cloth gurmany (plural of gurmana) were worn; they resembled the Sącz-style ones, had an oblong poncho cut too, with long sleeves and a standing collar, flared at the hips with gussets. Unlike the ones worn by the Lachs, they were not decorated with embroidery, but only modestly edged with woollen cord - black cord (against white cloth) and red cord (against dark cloth).

The Pogórze Highlanders' traditional costume included a characteristic type of headwear, that is cylindrical, wool-knit caps called magierki; they had flat, circular crowns and turned-up rims. They were a borrowing from the Krakowiaks. Besides, Pogórze Highlanders used to wear black, felt hats, and in summer - straw hats, which youth would adorn with red ribbons, and old farmsteaders - with black ones. In winter, sheepskin caps were the preferred headgear, e.g. the ancient, tall wścieklica with a cloth top, and later on – a black, cupolaed baranica.

Kierpce in the highland style (kurpiele) were the most common type of footwear, which was also worn as a complement to the festive attire by the poor. Well-off farmsteaders would commission leather, calf-length boots, most frequently the so-called węgierskie (Hungarian-style) ones with two side seams on the uppers.

Women’s festive costume

Women’s ancient, festive attire included white, linen blouses of a przyramkowy or an oblong poncho cut. They were quite short and at the waist had an attached piece of fabric called nadołek; it was knee-length and served as the only lower-section underwear. The blouse sleeves were quite long, wide, gathered on the shoulders and the cuffs; the blouses had turndown collars, rounded or standing, with serrated edges; occasionally, there were also quite narrow, richly tucked ruffs. Blouses worn by well-off women were sometimes embellished with white cutwork - broderie anglaise or flatlock with floral motifs. Less wealthy housewives used to decorate the front of their blouses with tucks, on either side of the slit.

A white, linen skirt, almost ankle-length, very wide (5-7 szerzyn – ‘widths,’ units of fabric measurement corresponding to the width of the loom), richly gathered at the waist, was called fartuch. Its bottom was often decorated with a border of white broderie anglaise, and the bottom edge was serrated. Underneath, several other skirts of poorer quality were put on; in winter – a warm, hemp and a wooll burka. Later on, fartuchy (plural of fartuch) were superseded by wybijanki made of home-made linen imprinted with dainty patterns on a navy background. They were manufactured by rural, linen-imprinting workshops, of which there was a big number in the Polish and Slovak Carpathian foothills. At the end of the 19th century, a fashion for skirts of factory-made percale, batiste and various woollen fabrics, including flowery tybet fabrics, set in. Among the Pogórze Highlanders living in the Gorlice district these were mainly worn by well-off married women (because tybet was expensive). Tybetówki (skirts made of tybet) were accepted as part of unmarried women’s costume late - in the 20th century - mainly under the influence of the highly stylised, so-called strój krakowski (a Cracow-style costume).Housewives would also readily wear plain, woollen skirts. There was a number of locally predominant varieties, e.g. dark-red, woollen piekielnice with rib weave were popular in the villages west of Gorlice, sapphire blue ones - in the east of the region, etc.

Festive zapaski (aprons) - not much shorter than the skirts - were pleated and ample (covering the sides and part of the skirt’s back), and mainly made of white, thin linens, originally homemade. They were traditionally decorated with a rich, broad border of white broderie anglaise. Under the influence of the fashion from Haczów, a famous Pogórze embroidery centre near Krosno, at the end of the 19th century those were mainly ordinary convex embroideries with large holes (on thick padding). Sometimes zapaski were lace-trimmed; in the Bobowa district locally produced bobbin lace was used. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the Pogórze Highlanders from the Grybów district began wearing decorative zapaski made of dark-coloured (black or navy), alpaca wool, often with a flounce at the bottom, decorated with a broad border of multi-coloured flatlock stitch (satin weave) with various, verist flowers. This fashion came from the Sącz Lachs.

Bodices - originally mainly of brocade or damask - were only worn by well-off western Pogórze women, both single and married women (but not older women). Later on, festive costume bodices became more widespread; they were made of cloth, plain tybet fabrics and velvet, most often in navy, cherry-red, dark green, black. Older bodices used to have dainty, semicircular kaletki (tooth-like flaps); at the front they were fastened with a ribbon threaded through metal-trimmed holes, matching the colour of the outfit (not only red), which was usually tied from bottom to top. They were modestly decorated with shop tape. At the end of the 19th century, blaszki (tin pieces) ornamentation appeared, inspired by the Cracow fashion. Colourful bead embroidery with floral motifs, typical of the Sącz Lachs, often appeared in the western Pogórze villages located within the Sącz district, close to the Lach border.

The outer garment, popularly worn by Pogórze women, called melizonka or przyjaciółka, resembling a żupan (a cloth overcoat), was in the western part of the region made of blue cloth. Well-off housewives would line it with sheepskin. Melizonki (plural of melizonka), which were calf-length, were close-fitting, flared at the back and on the hips with ample folds, and had long, quite narrow sleeves. In time, this ancient garment was in time superseded by a cloth katanka (a cropped jacket).It was also made do figury (made to fit closely), covered the hips, had long sleeves, was fastened with buttons. Under the chin, its edge was smooth, and on top of it the collar of the white blouse was turned down. It was trimmed with ornamental haberdashery binding or strips of appliqué of fabric in a contrasting colour.

The old-fashioned, white, linen rańtuch sheet was worn over the shoulders like a shawl on festive occasions. At the end of the 19th century, it began to be replaced with a variety of colourful, factory-made chusty do przyodziewku (large shoulder shawls worn as an outer garment).

On holidays, married women used to cover their heads with white, linen or tulle mob-cap scarves decorated with white embroidery featuring floral motifs. They were draped in various manners, usually with decorative, prominent knots over the forehead called czubykotki, etc. The mob cap was sometimes wrapped around with a colourful headscarf. On ordinary Sundays and for trips to towns, women would wear all manner of kerchiefs: damask, satin ones, kaźmirki and tybetki, plain or patterned, tasselled and sometimes embellished with plaited fishnet. The headscarves were tied under the chin. In winter, warm kerchiefs of thicker wool were worn, which were also tied under the chin.

In summer, unmarried women used to have their heads bare; na parade (on very special occasions), they would stick fresh flowers into their hair, and plait their hair with colourful ribbons, which were also tied to the blouse, underneath the coral beads. In winter, girls would complement the festive attire with colourful, woollen kerchiefs most often with floral motifs. In the Second Polish Republic, they were usually tied at the back, after the Cracow fashion. To complement the festive outfit, wealthy women and girls used to wear genuine coral beads, which were very expensive; poorer women used imitation coral or glass beads. At the end of the 19th century, women’s festive attire worn by girls and young married women became enriched with black, leather calf-length boots. They had quite tall, Cuban heels with horseshoe taps, and were tied with black laces. Old, well-off housewives in the western part of the region used to wear polskie (Polish-style) calf-length boots resembling the Lach karbiaki. On festive occasions, women from poorer families would wear węgierskie(Hungarian-style) boots with seams on the sides of the uppers, or even kurpiele (kierpce), which were worn over linen or woollen footwraps.


Casual clothing

Everyday, Pogórze-style clothes used for work were not much different from the clothes worn by the neighbouring group living in the Carpathian Foothills, especially the Lachs. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries it was customary to wear, “around the house” and while working in the field, an archaic type of clothing hand-made by women in the family, and almost exclusively made of thicker (often the so-called zgrzebne - coarse), worse-quality homespun and hardly bleached linen, hemp and mixed linens, as well as woollen skirts fulled at local fulling mills. It was also typical - just like in the neighbouring groups - to wear, on a daily basis - shabby (patched and altered) festive clothes as long as they could last.

In summer, men would typically wear shirts of natural-coloured, homespun linen or hemp-linen blends with an oblong poncho cut, knee-length, with sleeves and narrow trimmings under the chin and on the sleeves instead of a collar and cuffs. They were worn outside simple, linen trousers, originally made of thick, homespun linen, and later on of shop cajg; the trousers were girded around with leather belts with a brass buckle or tied around with twine. Over shirts worn were sometimes waistcoats - either shabby Sunday ones, or made of dark-coloured shop fabrics, with V-necks and fastened with bone buttons. On a daily basis, worn were also linen górnice of worse-quality, hardly bleached linen; they were made in the same manner as the festive ones, but did not have colourful linings. In summer, for work in the field old straw hats were commonly worn. On cold days, instead of waistcoats, over shirts worn were simple, unadorned sheepskin serdaki (jerkins). Old, navy or black cloth trousers were worn as well; they were repeatedly patched and altered. In winter, men would wear old cuwy and gurmany, and from the beginning of the 20th century on they were often converted into shorter jackets with turndown collars, lapels and button fastenings. In summer, around the farmyard, men would often walk barefoot, and while working in the field they would wear kurpiele or węgierskie(Hungarian-style) boots (well-off farmsteaders).

In summer, while working, women would wear linen blouses, sometimes shabby Sunday ones, or made of worse-quality, hardly bleached linen, with narrow trimmings around the neck and on the sleeves. They had a nadułek (underwear) attached at the waist; it was made of “any old” linen, often pieced together from various, patched scraps. A shirt was typically complemented by linen skirts (usually two in summer); they were long, wide and billowy like festive ones, in natural colours or dyed dark (indigo, navy, siwy - silver-grey). On a daily basis, shabby wybijanki imprinted with dainty patterns were worn as well.Over skirts women would commonly wear linen or percale zapaski, in most cases - darker ones, e.g. silver-grey or pasiate (striped).  On cold days, over blouses worn were sometimes sleeveless stonicki (kaftaniki); these were bodice-like garments made of dark-coloured linen, baja or flannel (with lining). Sometimes the front and the back were made of different materials. They were of waist-length, had no flaps, a neckline higher than the one on the bodice; they were fastened with buttons at the front. They were mainly worn by housewives and older women. In summer, while working in the field, women would cover their heads with kerchiefs of homemade white linen. They were worn by both unmarried women, who would tie them at the back, and married women, who tied them under the chin. While bustling around the house, women would also wear colourful, percale headscarves. In warm seasons of the year, women would normally walk barefoot.

In colder seasons of the year, on a daily basis, women would wear several, thicker skirts. Under the skirts, they wore linen-woollen burki, and later on - also baja or flannel skirts; on top worn were shabby, woollen skirts, which were covered with daker zapaski. As outer garments, padded katanki with sleeves were worn for as long as they could last, as well as warm wraps do przyodziewku, which were woollen or semi-woollen, often featuring a dark check pattern. In foul weather, they were pulled up to cover the head, over the woollen shawl tied under the chin. In cold weather, poor women would wear kierpce over woollen footwraps; women from wealthy families would wear leather Hungarian-style boots in winter.


Maria Brylak-Załuska



Maria Brylak-Załuska: Zarys tradycyjnej kultury materialnej [An Outline of the Traditional Material Culture]; Tradycyjny strój ludowy Pogórzan [The Traditional Folk Costume of the Pogórze Highlanders], [in]: Tańce i pieśni Pogórzan [The Dances and Songs of the Pogórze Highlanders], a collective work, ed. Henryk Kuś, Bobowa 2014; Anna Niemczyńska-Szurek: Na pogórzańskiej wsi [In the Pogórze Countryside], Gorlice, 2009; Elżbieta Piskorz-Branekova: Polskie stroje ludowe [Polish Folk Costumes], Part 3, Warszawa 2007; Adam Wójcik: Strój Pogórzan [The Pogórze highland Costume], [in:] Nad rzeką Ropą. Zarys kultury ludowej powiatu gorlickiego [On the Ropa River. An Outline of the Folk Culture of the Gorlice County], a collective work, ed. Roman Reinfuss, Kraków 1965.