Unia Europejska
Sącz Highlanders

Sącz Highlanders

The festive and everyday attire of the Sącz Highlanders

The traditional clothing and outfits worn by the Sącz Highlanders (in the past also referred to as the White Highlanders) who used to inhabit the subregions of Łącko, Kamienica and Jazowsko can be traced back to the ancient, highland clothes worn in the Carpathians, with strong influence of the Sącz Lachs, the Podhale Highlanders, as well as the urban fashion (especially at the beginning of the 20th century). The attire worn by the Sącz Highlanders showed some subregion-specific differences, particularly with regard to ornamentation.

Until around the 1870s both formal and casual clothes were primarily made of homemade fabrics: linen (pure linen, hemp or a mix), woollen cloth (white or brown) fulled from homespun woollen fabrics at rural fulling mills, sheepskin and cowhide (used to make belts and shoes). Back then, the fabrics usually bought at fairs were coloured types of cloth - the so-called kramne cloth (cloth bought at a kram - ‘a fair stall’) - which were used to make men's waistcoats and women's sukienki (dresses) and bodices. In time, the range of shop textiles and decorative materials, especially ones used for women’s outfits considerably grew in size, thus giving rise to a marked change in the nature and colours of peasant clothes as well as the variety of decorative elements.

Formal peasant clothes worn on festive occasions used to perform a vital function in the traditional rural culture; it was a special kind of identifier which not only made it possible to distinguish between “us” and “them,” but it was also a hallmark of financial and social standing, as well as of the wearer’s marital status. It was subject to strict, custom-bound control by fellow countrymen who saw to it that everybody dressed according to their status.

Men’s festive costume

Shirts worn as part of men's festive attire originally used to be made of thin, well-bleached linen fabrics, and later on also of ready-made cotton ones. Usually, they had an oblong poncho cut, with the front and back forming one part (with no seams on the sleeves), The shirts that were worn to complement cloth gunioki (trousers) were shorter and always tucked in. However, the shirts that were worn with płócianki (linen trousers, common especially in the northern part of the region, in the borderland with the Lach district) sometimes reached down to the knees and were worn na wypust (outside the trousers), just like the Lachs did. The sleeves – long and quite wide - were gathered around the shoulders and the cuffs. A rectangular, turndown collar was usually tied under the chin with a red ribbon, and later on buttoned. The front slit, the edges of which used to come butt to butt, began to be covered with a placket featuring prowda (a little, horizontal flap) at the bottom. On festive occasions, wealthy men used to wear shirts decorated with white, handmade broderie anglaise (the stitch types popularly used included: buttonhole, rococo, flatlock, mesh) of floral motifs featuring on the front side, the collar and the cuffs. Vertical tucks were also placed at either side of the placket, which was a more modest way to decorate shirts. In time, as a result of the expansion of the Podhale fashion, a brass or pakfong Podhale-style shirt clasp became a chic decorative element of shirts worn by wealthy farmsteaders; in the Łącko district it was called zapinka, and in Szczawa and Zasadne - ząbka. The clasps were of two types: either the so-called lanki (cast in one piece) or blaszane (tin) clasps, and were bought from craftsmen at fairs in Nowy Targ of Łącko.

Waistcoats As regards the festive attire, as late as the end of the 19th century, dark-coloured lajbiki (waistcoats) were worn over shirts. They were made of coloured, homespun cloth. A lajbik had a narrow, turndown collar and two horizontal pockets with rectangular flaps; it was fastened with a row of little, convex buttons, next to which ran a series of red or blue thread chwościki (tassels). The edges of a lajbik were trimmed with red cloth and decorated with modest handmade, red-wool chain stitch embroidery. More recent waistcoats were made of machine-made navy cloth, and the red chain stitch embroidery saw some spectacular improvement. The back featured an elaborate, elliptical plant motif called paproć (fern) and a decorative loopy pattern (under the collar). Along the front slit added were narrow appliqués of serrated bands of white cloth. The pentagonal pocket flaps were more lavishly decorated. More recent waistcoats were also fastened with hooks and eyes, while the row of metal buttons only served a decorative purpose. On cold days, single men would complement a kościelny (church-going) outfit with short, yellow sheepskin serdaki (jerkins) with black fur oprymy (trimmings) instead of the waistcoats. The serdak (singular of serdaki) had two little pockets with rounded bottoms; it was fastened with leather loops and buttons. It was decorated with appliqués of saffian leather and modest wool embroidery.

The festive trousers called suknioki (also gunioki, portki, nogawice) were made of white homespun cloth. In the Kamienica subregion they were worn all year round, while in the Łącko and Jazowsko districts - only in winter and on major festive occasions. They had a traditional highland cut with two przypory (slits) at the front, and a seam arching above the buttocks and connecting with the seams on the legs. The legs, slit at the very bottom, were much narrower and tapering in the Szczawa, Zasadne and Kamienica districts, while in the villages bordering the Lach region the legs were almost straight and quite wide. It was only in the third decade of the 20th century that under the influence of the Podhale fashion, the legs on the suknioki (trousers) worn by Sącz Highlanders became tight-fitting and tapering. Gunioki (trousers) were decorated with coloured cloth edgings, trimmings of twisted or kostka plaited woollen cord (around the slits and side stripes along the leg seams) and with handmade multicoloured wool embroidery, janina stitch and chain stitch. Embroidery was placed mainly around the przypory, under them (cyfry - parzenica-like embroidered elements), along the side stripes (ślaki - borders) and next to them, in the form of kurnytek and liszaj patterns with pompoms. In the Łącko subregion, a loopy pattern called węzeł rycerski (a knight's knot) was most often placed under the przypory; in time it was enclosed with a slim, heart-shaped cyfra - an embroidered motif. In the western part of the region (Szczawa, Zalesie, Kamienica) a sercówka heart-shaped pattern with two symmetrical volutes inside was a typical element. Sercówki - heart-shaped patterns - made in the Jazowsko district were very similar to the ornamentation on the navy trousers worn by the Podegrodzie Lachs. The colour scheme of the embroidery was varied and subject to change. For instance, in the environs of Łącko, red and blue ornamentation with a predominance of red was most common. Further north (Kicznia, Wola Kosnowa) the green colour was often introduced, and in time it became predominant. In the Kamienica subregion, the colour scheme of the embroidery was very rich - the red colour was supplemented with dark blue, green and yellow. Sercówki - heart-shaped patterns - embroidered in the districts of Jazowsko, Obidza, Gaboń and the neighbouring village of Moszczenica were of a similar colour scheme. In summer, in the northern and the eastern parts bordering on the Lach region, the festive attire was complemented by płócianki - white trousers of homespun linen, with straight and wide legs edged at the bottom with cyrka zo strząpkami, that is hemstitch and short tassels made of the warp threads tied in bunches.  Płócianki (trousers) were always complemented with a shirt worn outside and girded around with a leather belt.

Outer garments In the Łącko surrounding areas bordering on the Lach region, the summer outfit was complemented with a white górnica (płótnianka) made of linen or hemp fabric and worn over the waistcoat.  It had an oblong poncho cut, billowy gussets at the hips, long sleeves, a standing collar and two oblique pocket openings at the sides. It reached a little down below the knees. Rich farmsteaders would wear górnice (plural of górnica) with collars and facings lined with red cloth, or even decorated (just like in the Sącz Lach region) with handmade multicoloured thread chain stitch embroidery. In the subregion in question górnice began falling into disuse as early as the time of the First World War.

In the Sącz Highland region, a cloth gurmana (a jacket) was the outer garment commonly worn on formal occasions; for instance, at a wedding a groom, the best men and the master of ceremonies were obliged to wear ones. Worn throughout the region, it was originally (until the end of the 19th century) made of white and - later on - more and more often brown homespun cloth (bioła gurmana and corna gurmana). Dark gurmany (plural of gurmana) were viewed as “better” ones and thus enhancing the owner’s prestige; conversely, white ones were thought to be mediocre. A gurmana, which resembled quite a long sukmana overcoat (reaching to mid-calf), had an oblong poncho cut, triangular zbiory (gussets) at the hips, long sleeves and a standing collar. Sometimes the side seams had wtoki (sewn-in pockets). The only ornamentation of the 19th-century white gurmany was a row of little, convex tin buttons at the front, and the bottom part of the sleeves had little, triangular klapki - flaps which were rolled down to cover the hands on cold days. This type of outer garment was in use in the western part of the region (Kamienica, Zasadne, Szczawa) the longest. Corne gurmany (black gurmany), which came later, were trimmed around the edges (excluding the bottom one) with red cloth; the edges had woollen cord or plaited kostka (a square-looking pattern), and were decorated with coloured-wool (predominantly red) chain stitch. Geometrical and floral embroideries were placed in the front part of a gurmana (a broad border running from top to the waist), in the bottom parts of the sleeves (a spectacular triangular motif called paproć - fern), around the top parts of zbiory (gussets) and the pockets (heart-shaped patterns called sercówki). The type of embroidery was similar to the one used by the Sacz Lachs, but it was more modest. It was only in the villages located in the Jazowsko district that wealthy farmstead owners used to wear richly ornamented gurmany, just like in the Podegrodzie parish area. The characteristic difference between the Highland gurmana and the Lach gurmana was that the former one did not have an ornamental border around the bottom edge. A gurmana was fastened under the collar with hooks and eyes, or tied with a red ribbon. It used to be a privilege of rural elders to wear a bunch of red, green, blue and yellow woollen kutasy (tassels) suspended by woollen cords at the left-side fastening. In the course of time this ornament became widespread. Kawalerka - single, young men - used to wear gurmany by flinging them over their shoulders (especially in summer), while older farmsteaders would wear them with their arms in the sleeves (especially for church).

An oberok, which began to be popularly worn at the beginning of the 20th century, was a more recent type of a men’s garment. It was most common in the Kamienica subregion villages, especially as an outfit for hunters, carters and shepherds. An oberok used to be worn as part of the niedzielny (Sunday) and formal costume. It was a kind of simple, urban-style, knee-length jacket. It was made of corne (black), homespun sheep cloth or thick linen-woollen fabric. It had turndown collars with lapels, long, set-in sleeves, two (or four) slash pockets; a single- or double-breasted fastening was fitted with bone buttons. Green, purple or black binding along the edges of the collar, lapels and the front edges was the only ornamentation of the oberok. 

In winter, on special occasions wealthy farmsteaders would wear long, yellow-dyed kożuchy - sheepskin coats called kadłubki. Because of their shape and length, they were reminiscent of gurmany. The collar and the cuffs were made of black baranek (sheepskin); the fastening had leather klucki and buttons. The front part of the kadłubek was ornamented with appliqués of red saffian leather and coloured wool embroidery. Poor highlanders used to wear shorter, white spancery (jackets), more modestly decorated with the use of the same techniques. On festive occasions, rich peasants, especially in the Jazowsko district, would wear the famous Stary Sącz-type, Hungarian-style sheepskin jackets; they were white, had a richly gathered spodnica (a bottom part) and an ample collar of black baranek (sheepskin fur). They were decorated with colourful appliqués and wool embroidery. In severe frost, sheepskin jackets were complemented with woollen, patterned mittens, which were woven na desce (on a board) by hand.

Headwear The festive attire used to be complemented with a black, felt, góralski (highland-style) hat with a hard, cupolaed dome and a turndown kania (a brim) edged with (black, green or red) trimming. In the villages bordering on the Sącz Lach region, Lach-style hats (of the brusek type with a cupolaed dome and a narrow, slightly upturned kania) used to be worn as well. Hats used to be decorated around the dome with korona (a leather strap serrated at the top and studded with brass centki - buttons), and later on wrapped around with brass or pakfong chain. Poor men used to wrap woollen cords around their hat domes, in the Kamienica and Szczawa districts - red ones, in the Łącko and Obidza districts - green ones. Podhale-style kostki (cowry shells, originally genuine ones and later on porcelain ones) sewn onto a red saffian leather strap were a more modern hat ornament (as of the beginning of the 20th century). Na paradę (for formal occasions), unmarried men would decorate their hats with rooster feathers (Łącko), hawk feathers (Szczawa) or artificial bunches. Currently, folk ensembles decorate hats with kostki made of synthetic material (on a plastic strap) and a hawk feather with a spike of white down - after the Podhale fashion.  In winter, sheepskin caps used to be worn; the bottom part was made of black sheepskin and the dome was covered with black (Łącko) and red or blue (Kamienica) cloth. In the interwar period, baranice (fur caps) made of black sheepskin and shaped like an elongated dome or a cylinder with an indented crown (Obidza) became widespread all over the region.

Belts Decorative, leather, węgierskie (Hungarian-style) belts (called syrokie, srosy) made of double cowhide used to be worn by wealthy farmsteaders to complement festive outfits, both its summer, linen version and the cloth suknioki. In the upper part, close to the fastening, there was an inside pocket opening covered with a klapka (a rounded flap). Węgierskie belts used to be fastened with several thongs and buckles; the leather surface had embossed embellishments and was sometimes studded with guzki (little brass caps). Most often, young people used to wear long (enough to wrap around the waist at least three times), narrow (3-4cm) kawalerskie (bachelor-style) belts fastened with brass buckles. The first-wrap length was buckled, undecorated, while the next ones were studded with brass buttons and caps arranged in a belt-typical ornament (e.g. a spiralling ośmina).  The decorative part of the belt was loosely wrapped around the hips, and the last wrap was allowed to hang loosely and low. Sometimes, dla parady (for formal occasions), kawalerka - unmarried men - would wear both belts at the same time: the narrow one underneath, some part of it visibly hanging low, and the syroki (the broad one) on top of it. In the 1930s, the folk ensemble from Łącko commissioned, in Podhale, broad, ornamental pasy zbójnickie (brigand-style belts) peculiar to the Podhale region. Even though they had nothing in common with the traditional local costume, they quickly caught on in most Sącz Highlanders ensembles.

Footwear Kierpce (also kiyrpce) made as a whole (including the sole) of one piece of cowhide and sewn with the aid of a thong used to be the most common type of footwear all over the region; they were worn as a complement to the festive attire both in summer and winter. An older type of kierpce were sewn w kostkę (with the leather strap forming a pattern of little squares on the instep): a dainty stitch would embrace the whole circumference of the shoe, including the front part (called kufa). Later on, under the influence of the Podhale fashion, kierpce came to be fitted with a thicker thong running over the kufa (the so-called kierpce sewn w rzemień - ‘with a thong’). In summer, they were worn over linen cułki (footwraps), and in winter - over homespun cloth kapce (a kind of thick socks). In the 1930s they were supplanted by wool-knitted socks. Kierpce used to be secured on feet with a thin rzemień (a thong called nawłoka or nakońce) wrapped around the calf, originally - underneath the trouser legs, later on, if the trousers were tight-fitting - on top of them. At the end of the interwar period, the Podhale fashion gave rise to popularisation of a new type of kierpce with an added leather sole and fastened with buckled straps. Wealthy highlanders used to wear kierpce with embossed embellishments; more modern ones were also studded with little, brass nails. From the beginning of the 20th century, for most important holidays and occasions (e.g. weddings) wealthy farmsteaders living in the region would more and more often wear buty z cholewami - leather calf-length boots resembling the Lach-style karbioki; they sometimes had embossed embellishments. Those were the so-called polskie (Polish) boots with long and hard uppers and seams at the back; above the ankle they had intricately arranged corrugation called harmonia (Łącko, Jazowsko) and zgruby or miechy (Kamienica, Szczawa). Less wealthy farmsteaders had to settle for cheaper, Hungarian-style (wogiescoki) boots with shorter and softer uppers stitched on the sides. Great care was taken of boots, even in wealthy families. Not infrequently, sons would be presented with boots no sooner than in time to be worn at the wedding ceremony. On Sundays, for church services boots were worn only in winter; in summer, kierpce were used.

Women’s festive attire

In the Sącz Highlanders’ region, women’s festive shirts were made of thin, bleached, homespun linen, and in time also of machine-made linens. They used to have an oblong poncho cut (often with reinforcing przyramki sewn on the shoulders) or a przyramkowy cut (przyramek - a square piece of fabric), later on - a yoke cut. Ancient shirts were short and reached only down to the waist; at the bottom they were fitted with a nadołek, that is a piece of worse-quality linen reaching down below the knees. It performed a function of the only bottom underwear. Long, quite wide and richly gathered sleeves were set in simple cuffs fastened with buttons. Under the chin the festive shirt had a small, turndown collar, or (from the beginning of the 20th century) a narrow ruffle with serrated edging; it was worn mainly by unmarried and young, married women. In time, the Podhale fashion made ruffles wider and wider. Shirts (in the 20th century called blouses) worn by single women, especially when complementing a bodice, had quite a wide placket or even a decorative and asymmetrically fastened plastron to cover the opening. Married women's shirts, covered by wizytki or katanki (cropped jackets), had narrower plackets.  For major holidays and festive occasions, women in affluent families would put on shirts decorated with handmade, white broderie anglaise, which was more lavish than on men’s shirts.  Embroideries, placed in the front parts, on the collar (a ruffle) and the cuffs had strip-like composition; there was a predominance of floral motifs (twigs, clusters, flowers) as well as hearts, teardrops, rhombuses etc. Serrated edges trimmed bound border holes.

Festive attire skirts worn by Sącz highland women used to be (until the 1920s) long and reached almost down to the ankles; they were wide (5-10 półek - widths of fabric), richly gathered in the upper parts and sewn in trimming with troczki, in the bottom part lined with a band of starched linen (around 25cm). Tightly tied around the waist, very wide and stiffened at the bottom, the skirt fell like a bell. Besides, several skirts were worn at the same time; in winter as many as five, with a warm fustian barchetka underneath serving the purpose of padding (in the region in question knickers began to be popular only in the 1920s and the 1930s, as there was substantial opposition). The oldest type of paradne (for formal occasions) skirts worn by Sącz Highland women were white fartuchy, which were popular among the Carpathian highlanders and Lachs until as late as the end of the 19th century. They were made of thin homespun linen, with a serrated (called w zęby) bottom edge above which ran a border of white broderie anglaise. In time, linen fartuchy began to be worn underneath, with the embroidered serration sticking out from under the outer skirt.  At the same time, on formal occasion, and in poorer families also for church, farbówki (skirts) made of navy homespun linen were worn; they were dyed by hand and imprinted with bright-coloured patterns. They were manufactured at numerous dyeworks in Subcarpathian towns. The turn of the 19th and 20th centuries witnessed a considerable expansion of the range of machine-made fabrics available for the country. At around the same time the so-called burki became widespread in the districts of Łącko, Kicznia, Obidza and Jazowsko; they were festive skirts of factory-made, cotton-woollen fabrics, plain or patterned (e.g. striped). They were still long, unusually wide (up to 12 szerzyn - widths of fabric), tightly ruffled. At the beginning of the 20th century light-coloured (cream, white, sometimes flowery) burki entered the canon of the wedding dress (Obidza, Jazowsko), with a close-fitting bluzka (a tunic) of the same material. Around the same time, rich, single women also used to wear lightweight, pastel, flowery batiste and muslin skirts, while housewives would choose plain or striped skirts of ostre wełenki (coarse wool), alpaca or klot (a thick cotton fabric with satin weave) in vivid colours: crimson, sapphire blue, etc. Older women would rather wear dark-coloured skirts: brown, navy blue and black ones. Festive skirts were decorated with horizontal tucks, binding trimmings, ribbons or (white or black) lace. The bottom edge was trimmed with frayed haberdashery binding called szczotka. Around the second decade of the 20th century, among the Sącz Highlanders a fashion for the already known and expensive spódnice krakowskie (Cracow-style skirts) set in; they were made of lightweight tybetowe wool fabrics, imprinted with multicoloured flowers (with a predominance of roses) against backgrounds of various colours (tybet - a fabric originally made of wool of Tibetan sheep or goats, hence the name).  Tybetowe skirts with red backgrounds became particularly widespread in the Łącko subregion, and with green backgrounds - in the Kamienica subregion. Cream tybetowe skirts (called tybetówki) remained popular throughout the region for a long time, especially with bridesmaids.

Zapaski (aprons) were more often worn to complement the festive outfit by married women. Wide, richly gathered and hip-covering zapaski made of thin, white linen used to be the most characteristic in the region in question. They were decorated with white broderie anglaise. The bottom edge was serrated (w zęby) and lace-trimmed. Zapaski were worn by both single and married women, often on top of old-fashioned fartuchy (skirts).  From the beginning of the 20th century, young and rich women also used to wear lightweight, bright-coloured, muslin or tulle aprons, sometimes decorated with white machine-made embroidery or trimmed along the edges with machine-made lace.  In the Second Polish Republic, black and navy, alpaca and sateen zapaski, which were already widespread throughout Subcarpathia, became popular among older housewives. They often had wide flounces, with the bottom part decorated with spectacular, varicoloured satin stitch with floral borders.

 Bodices, which were festive garments worn by young women (single and young married women) used to be made of thicker, dyed linens, thin cloth (also bright-coloured, e.g. cream one), and from the end of the 19th century - mainly of (black, navy and more seldom claret-coloured) velvet.  Below the waist they used to have a narrow, box-pleated flounce, later on - dainty, semicircular, slightly overlapping kaletki (tooth-like flaps), which in time became pointed. Bodices used to be modestly ornamented. They were usually trimmed with shiny, coloured (e.g. red), edge-parallel haberdashery binding that served to enhance the cut. They were sometimes coupled with modest spangle embroidery. In time, floral (e.g. featuring a popular forget-me-not motif) spangle embroidery appeared. It was still arranged in bands running along the edges and arched seams at the back of the bodice (podkulki). There were also embroideries of stylised (frequently geometricised) sleek compositions of bukiety (bunches) in flower pots. They made liberal use of spangles. In the first decades of the 20th century floral thread embroideries (especially during wartime when beads were hard to come by) appeared. In the interwar period bead embroideries made a comeback; they were more lavish and more colourful, gravitating towards elaborate, verist flower compositions (rose bunches, lilies, pansies, ears of grain, twigs, etc.), which in time began taking up the whole surface of the bodice, including the flaps (the so-called gorsety lite). This type of bodices is predominant in costumes used by contemporary folk ensembles in the region.

Outer garments As late as the end of the 19th century, in the Sącz Highlanders’ region, women from families of village leaders or wealthy peasants would wear the so-called sukienki as outer garments, the fashion for which persisted in the Kamienica subregion the longest. A sukienka (singular of sukienki) was a kind of navy or black cloth overcoat reaching down below the knees, and sometimes lined with sheepskin. They were made to fit closely, fall in folds at the back and fastened with rows of buttons, or to be loose-fitting with a cape-like collar, fastened with metal buckles and trimmed with silver braid. The collar and the edges were sometimes trimmed with fox fur or sheepskin.      

At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries sukienki were replaced with navy or blue cloth, fustian-padded, mid-hip length kaftany (tunics) with a multitude of pleats around the waist called organki (just like in the Sącz Lach region). Kaftany were decorated with threadwork, rows of metal buttons and sometimes embroidery.  From the beginning of the 20th century, on warmer days, on top of blouses older women would wear festive wizytki - cropped, long-sleeved jackets in the style of loose-fitting tunics. They were made of a variety of lightweight, homemade or shop fabrics, e.g. dyed linens, klot, woollen kaźmierki, plain tybet, etc. In Jazowsko and Obidza they were often made of the same fabric as the skirt, thus forming a set.  Wizytki reached a little below the waist, had long, straight sleeves, around the neck they had narrow trimming (a blouse collar was usually laid down over it), were fastened with with little decorative buttons or press studs. They were decorated with vertical tucks, haberdashery binding or lace, floral satin stitch, etc. In winter rich housewives used to wear wadded, woollen katanki (cropped jackets) in dark colours (back, dark green, navy blue) with long sleeves, close-fitting around the waist and flared at the hips, sometimes with folds at the back or a slightly elongated and rounded bottom edge. The edges were trimmed with wide fur oprymy (trimmings), originally natural ones, later on made of artificial caracul. The covered fastening placket was fitted with koniki (hooks and eyes) or press studs.

In winter, women from the wealthiest families would complement festive outfits with Stary Sącz-style (called węgierskie - Hungarian-style) sheepskins; they were white or yellow, had many folds at the hips, were shorter than the ones worn by men, but similarly decorated. In the interwar period, the region saw the rising popularity of cheaper, simple and more modestly decorated sheepskins manufactured at Łącko workshops, as well as women's serdaki (jerkins) ornamented with cyroń (twisted, green tape on red leather appliqué) and wool embroideries, particularly lavish at the back, under the collar. In the 1930s a fashion for light-brown highland (Nowy Targ-style) sheepskins (kożuszki góralskie) of the Podhale type; they were bought mainly in Nowy Targ. They were edged with dark oprymy (trimmings) and spectacularly decorated with appliqué of coloured leather pieces as well as wool embroidery, inter alia with a large motif of carline thistle on the back.

Shoulder wraps and shawls In the Sącz Highlanders’ region, long, white shoulder wraps called rańtuchy used to be traditional and important elements of women’s festive attire, worn especially for ritual purposes (e.g. worn at weddings or commonly kept to be worn in the coffin); they were worn as shawls, secured with hands at the front, and sometimes flung over the head. A rańtuch was typically a sheet of white, thin, homespun linen. It was around 2 metres long and had 2 szerzyny (widths) stitched along (sometimes with decorative hemstitch). Rańtuch wraps were also made of a white, patterned rąbek (very fine, linen fabric with a complex weave), a dymkowy linen or factory-made muslin. Rańtuch wraps used to be decorated with narrow flounce along one long side. In the Kamienica district, large, square łoktuse (wraps) were a variant on this festive garment; they were made of white linen folded into triangles and flung over the shoulders. The back corner of a łoktusa (singular of łoktuse) was decorated with white, floral embroidery, and the edges had semicircular serration (zęby). In some villages (e.g. Szczawa, Zasadne or Zalesie) they continued to be worn for a long time, even in the 1940s.  As early as the second half of the 19th century, the above-described, archaic white wraps began to be gradually supplanted by machine-made, patterned shoulder shawls used do przyodziewku; they were imported from Austria, Bohemia or Germany. A large selection of these was offered by fair stalls and door-to-door salesmen. Shawls were most often worn folded in a triangle, more seldom - folded lengthwise. In summer, od święta (on holidays and festive occasions) single women and young married women would most willingly wear thin, woollen tybetówki or rypsówki with ribbed weave, a floral border and a colourful dno (background), in vivid colours (e.g. red, sapphire blue, green) or light-coloured (e.g. cream).  Older women would choose dark-coloured, plain kazimierki ze strząpkami (tassels), and in winter - thick, woollen barankówki (in brown, green or black) the weave of which resembled the one of baranica. Multicoloured, woollen budrysówki with oriental patterns were the most formal (and most expensive) ones. They were worn by wealthy housewives. In the interwar period, in the Łącko and Jazowsko districts, it was fashionable for wealthy women to wear long, plush shawls; most often they were brown and tasselled along the short sides.

Headwear, hairstyle In warm seasons of the year, unmarried women typically did not cover their heads. They wore their hair long, with a central parting and usually in two plaits.  In the 1920s and 1930s it was fashionable to wear swept-back hair and no parting. Plaits were always made of three strands. The lower parts of the plaits were entwined with quite a narrow ribbon in a colour matching that of the costume (e.g red or light colours such as white, pink, light blue). Girls from poorer families entwined their plaits with harasowe ribbons (made of thin, coarse wool). In spring and summer, single women would festively decorate their hair by entwining fresh wild or garden flowers, e.g. daisies, cornflowers, camomiles, corncockles, periwinkle flowers, peonies, georginas (dahlias), etc. For weddings brides would wear greenery garlands (of rue, rosemary; later on also of periwinkle, myrtle, boxwood) and white flowers, natural or artificial ones. The garland was tied at the back with ribbons trailing down the nape. Maidens “with a history” (the so-called przeskoczki, przespanki) were obliged to wear kerchiefs for wedding. On cold days, for festive occasions, maidens would wear coloured, woollen or silk kerchiefs; they were tied po krakowsku (after the Cracow fashion), that is on the nape and with a knot on top of the back corner. From the beginning of the 20th century greatly popular with girls from wealthy families were expensive, tybet kerchiefs with floral prints in light or vivid colours (e.g. cream, red, green); they were usually edged with tassels and sometimes also with hand-plaited fishnet. Multicoloured, patterned kerchiefs would be replaced with dark-coloured and plain ones only during religious fasting periods. The rule applied to all women’s age and estate groups.

Married women’s hairstyles and headwear were different from those of single women. The most important rule which was religiously followed was the one whereby it was unbecoming for married women (irrespective of age) to appear outside home bareheaded. The whole region in question preserved the memory of the ancient custom of cutting newly married women's hair just after the wedding (usually during the rite of ocepiny at the wedding reception). The hair was cut flush with ears and covered with a mobcap which used to be (at least until the mid-19th century) shaped like a close-fitting cap made of coloured damask, satin or woollen fabric, with a kerchief on top. The custom of cutting newly-married women’s hair was preserved in some parts of the region until the end of the 19th century. From the beginning of the 20th century a common hairstyle among married women throughout the region was long, smoothly upswept hair done up in one plait and pinned up in a circle against the back of the head. It was always covered with a kerchief folded in a triangle and tied under the chin. Od święta (on festive occasions), young married women would wear light-coloured or patterned kerchiefs - in summer, they were made of thin linen or floral percale, while on cold days (just like single women) - of tybet woollen fabric (the so-called tybetki). Middle-aged housewives would more often put on woollen headscarves with paisley patterns, and beginning with the 1930s - with a floral, hand-embroidered border. Worn were also elegant, light-coloured, woollen salinki and densely-tasselled strzępule. Older women would complement their church-visiting attire with plain, dark-coloured kerchiefs decorated only with tassels and hand-woven fishnet (siateczka).   

At least until the beginning of the 20th century, for major church holidays and weddings married women living in Sącz Highlanders villages would put on white, elaborately done up mob-cap headscarves called czepce (mobcaps). They were made of thin, homespun linen, or lightweight, machine-made fabrics: muslin, tulle or bengal and decorated with white, handmade embroidery. In the region there were at least three known ways to do up mob-caps. In the Łącko parish, once the mob-cap has been done up, the shorter corner of the kerchief was shaped into a triangular peak called kobuch (or cub), and the back corner would trail down the back of the neck. In Szczawa, small mob-caps called czypce were done up into a knot above the forehead (just like Lachs did), and the back, quite short corner of the starched kerchief was shaped into a bulging protrusion (called bula). Just like in the Podegrodzie Lachs’ region, czepce were tied with a long corner on the back and a knot above the forehead  in the Jazowsko and Gaboń districts in the borderland between the two groups. The practice of wearing white do-up headscarves persisted the longest among women who customarily performed the function of starościny, that is wedding mistresses of ceremonies. At the beginning of the 20th century, once the fashion for white mob caps (czepce) disappeared, in some places in the Sącz Highland villages the practice of doing up woollen or percale, patterned, paisley (tureckie) kerchiefs into a mob cap (czepiec) persisted.       

Genuine red coral beads (the so-called kościane), which were regarded as amulets protecting against spells and disease, used to be a basic ornament of women’s festive attire (as well as a display of wealth). These very expensive coral beads used to be worn on strings (w nitkach) tightly wrapped around the neck. Genuine coral beads were an important part of the traditional wiano (dowry) offered by a bride. A little brass or silver cross or a religious medallion was often threaded in the middle of the bottom string. Women and girls from poorer families had to settle for much cheaper, glass beads called pacierze.

The type of women's footwear commonly worn even on festive occasions used to be kierpce, sewn in a fashion similar to the one employed while making men's kierpce - first w kostkę, then w rzemień. In summer they were worn over linen cułki, and in winter - over old-cloth kapce, later on - over woollen socks. Only the wealthiest housewives could afford węgierskie (Hungarian-style) leather boots, and in the borderland with the Sącz Lachs - women's karbioki, that is Polish boots with karby (corrugation) above the ankle. From the beginning of the 20th century young women, and especially single ones, from wealthy families would begin wearing black, lace-up trzewiki (boots) with Cuban heels. Great care was taken of footwear. Women would usually walk to church barefoot, carrying their shoes in their hands, and only in front of the church would they put them on. Sisters, who sometimes had to share one pair of shoes, would take turns walking to church.

Casual clothing

More or less until the First World War, while bustling around the house (po domu) and working in the field (do pola) use was made of clothing made of homespun linens of worse quality - thicker, unbleached and natural-coloured (greyish) ones. In every household they were hand-made by women. These clothes were simple, unadorned and often altered from old garments (to be used as hand-me-downs by children). Thicker clothes used on a daily basis in autumn and winter were most often worn-out (even 10-year-old) parts of festive attire. Wearing worn-out and patched festive clothes on a daily basis was a common practice in the Sącz Highlanders region as well as in the neighbouring groups.

In summer, men would wear linen or hemp shirts (of a cut similar to formal ones) with trimming around the neck and the sleeves. They were unadorned and tied na byle skrowek (with any old scrap of cloth). In parts of Łącko and Jazowsko they were worn na wypust (outside) coarse trousers called płócianki. A long shirt was tied around with a belt or twine. In the Kamienica district, where throughout the year the highland-style gunioki (trousers) were worn on a daily basis, shorter shirts were tucked in the trousers. In general, everyday portki were unornamented, and only trimmed (slits, side stripes) with dark borders. Clothes worn by wealthy farmsteaders would sometimes feature modest green or red embroideries. Over the shirt worn was usually a cloth, unadorned lajbik, and from the beginning of the 20th century - a dark-coloured, urban-style (miastowa) waistcoat with a triangular neckline, and fastened with kościane (bone) buttons. Throughout the year, old men used to wear simple, serdaki (jerkins) made of sheepskin tanned at home (ze swojskiej wyprawy). On cold days shabby gurmany were worn, and in winter - old sheepskin jackets. From the beginning of the 20th century carters, huntsmen and forestry workers would wear worn-out cloth oberoki for work. More affluent carters working on the routes to Szczawnica or Zakopane used to have warm, sheepskin or goatskin trousers. In winter, it was a common practice to wear patched woollen gloves and shabby sheepskin caps. In summer, for field work men would wear old, felt, góralskie (highland-style) hats, and in the northern part of the region also straw hats were sometimes used.  In warm seasons of the year, it was customary to walk barefoot on a daily basis, but do żniwa (for harvesting) footwear was worn, mainly kierpce. The poor used to make kierpce from pigskin at home. In winter, most of the villagers would wear old kierpce and cloth footwraps, and only rich peasants would use old Hungarian-style shoes. In winter, cloth kapce (a kind of slippers) made of an old gurmana were worn around the house. 

In summer, for work and around the house women would wear shabby, Sunday blouses or ones made of worse-quality linen with a nadołek made of any old piece of fabric. In the centre of the region, around Łącko, a tradition concerned with wearing an archaic-cut shirt resembling an old-Polish ciasnocha was preserved. It was also used as nightwear. It was a simple, sack-like garment with one seam; it covered the body from the armpits down to the knees. At the top it had two wide, set-in shoulder straps or elbow-long sleeves. On cold days, over shirts housewives and older women would sometimes put tunics (bluzki) with sleeves or short, bodice-like stoniki without flaps, with a high neckline and fastened with buttons. They were made of dark-coloured linen, percale, baja (a soft cotton fabric) or flannel. In summer, two skirts were usually worn at the same time; most often, they were long and wide, made of natural-coloured or dark-dyed linen. Wealthier women would also wear imprinted farbówki (skirts) on a daily basis. On top, it was customary to wear linen or percale zapaski usually in dark colours (siwe, bure or pasiate - grey, brownish-grey or striped); they were necessary for housework. While running some errands (e.g. going to a fair), older women would put on thick, unbleached, linen wraps called łoktuse, which at the back were tied up w torbę (to form a kind of bag) and on the chest had their corners tied into a knot; thus, they served as a popular means to carry shopping. For work in the field, heads were covered with ordinary kerchiefs of homemade, white linen. Unmarried women would tie them up at the back and married women - under the chin. In time, coloured, percale kerchiefs came into use as well. In summer, women would normally walk barefoot. In cold weather, women would put on thicker skirts, sometimes several of them. Underneath, they would wear “worn-out” fustian barchetki, and on top - shabby, wide burki or woollen skirts, covered with darker zapaski (aprons). As outer garments, padded katanki (cropped jackets) with sleeves were worn, as well as warm wraps do przyodziewku, woollen or semi-woollen deróweczki, 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.  Around the house, cloth, handmade kapce (slippers) were worn.


Maria Brylak-Załuska


Jan Ćwikowski, Stroje ludowe w parafii Łącko w powiecie nowosądeckim [Folk Costume in the Łącko Parish, Nowy Sącz County], Lud, vol. XI, 1905; Krystyna Hermanowicz-Nowak, Odzież ludowa wsi Łącko i Obidza [Folk Clothing in the Villages of Łącko and Obidza], [in:] Studia z kultury ludowej Beskidu Sądeckiego [Studies in the Folk Culture of the Sącz Beskids], a collective work, ed. Anna Kowalskia-Lewicka, 1985; Elżbieta Piskorz-Branekova Polskie stroje ludowe [Polish Folk Costumes], part 3, Warszawa 2007; Jan Wielek, Strój Górali Łąckich [The Costume of the Łącko Highlanders], Atlas Polskich Strojów Ludowych [An Atlas of the Polish Folk Costumes], bull. 14, Wrocław 1999.