Women’s festive costume. Moldavians. Late 19th - early 20th century. Yekaterinoslav Province, Bakhmut District
The Moldavians are a Romance people that emerged as a result of fusion of Balkan Roman (Vlach) and Eastern Slavic population. It is known than the Vlachs formed in the north of the Balkan Peninsula and in the Carpathians on the basis of a group of Thracian tribes Romanized in the first centuries AD, who later, from the 6th century, came into contact with the Slavs who had settled in that region. In the 14th – 16th centuries, the bulk of the Moldavians lived within the medieval Moldavian Principality, in vassalage to the Ottoman Empire from the 14th century. After the Russo-Turkish war of 1806-1812, under the 1812 Treaty of Bucharest, the lands between the Dniester and the Pruth, and the Budjak, were incorporated into Russia; Bessarabia Oblast was established in that territory in 1818, and Bessarabia Province, in 1873. The bulk of the Moldavian population inhabited Bessarabia, Yekaterinoslav, and Kherson Provinces. Local lore experts/collectors were essential to the acquisition of the Museum’s exhibits. Among them was Vasily Babenko, principal of the Upper Saltov School in Volchansk District, Kharkov Province. In 1909, as a result of the amateur ethnographer’s work in villages of Yekaterinoslav Province inhabited mostly by Russians, Ukrainians, and Moldavians, collections describing the material culture of these peoples, garments in particular, were acquired for the Museum. Important for us in this respect are the comments characterizing V. A. Babenko as researcher, for instance that the festive costume of a Moldavian woman living in Bakhmut District of Yekaterinoslav Province consisted of both traditional and new elements. The core of the garment ensemble was kamesha, a homespun chemise with seamless sleeves and tucks at the collar, decorated with geometrical and vegetal embroidery. Worn over it was a fota, bottomwear tied up with a woven woolen sash. The topwear was a sleeveless blouse of machine-made brocade, which differed in its material and design from traditional Moldavian keptars made from skin with fur inside. The emergence of this element may be explained by the compact settlement area of Moldavians together with Ukrainians, and the urban influence in clothing typical for those times.
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