Piebalga is, was and will be. Dressing culture in Piebalga during the 19th century.

[Piebalga ir, allergist bija un b?s” Piebaldz?nu ??rbšan?s kult?ra 19. gs.]

Jansone A.
Publisher -Aušanas darbn?ca V?ver?šas, price C?sis, 2014., 183 p.

(in Latvian)

Dressing culture in Piebalga during the 19th century is the first interdisciplinary scientific and practical study in the cultural history of Latvia that supplements our knowledge of the development of clothing in Piebalga. Respecting the totality of generations of experience and the addition of unpublished sources, the chronological framework of the research is established on the basis of the sources. The materials are viewed in the context of processes in Europe at that time and systematically analyzed using comparative-historical methodology and retrospective methodology, i.e., reconstruction and collections from ethnographic field trips.

Everything that was new in the city reached the rural workers through the manor house, tradesmen and market centres. Fashion ideas also spread like this. Old items of clothing were either replaced by new ones, or became additions to costume.

Some of the changes in peasant attire were:

• use of new items of clothing, e.g., cardigans, caps, lace collars, silk scarves, etc.;

• use of new and non-traditional materials such as fabrics made from silk and cotton


• changes in the cut of clothes: straight cuts were replaced with specially designed and quite complicated patterns sewn by professional tailors.

The festive clothes worn by people in Piebalga in the 19th century give a precise view of the aesthetics of the time. They show the standard of living of society, as well as prevailing style and fashion at that time. As European fashions spread, society’s concept of what is beautiful and useful also changed in Vidzeme. This was particularly evident in the 1850s-1870s, when there was a rapid transition from peasant clothing to the more European city fashion of dress. The new economic situation facilitated this, as did the information in fashion magazines that flowed in from Europe – from England, France and Germany.

The tempo of changes in the traditional folk costumes of all historic-cultural regions of Latvia has not been the same. Therefore, the proportion of tradition to innovation in diverse areas has been different. As a result, older and newer methods of making and decorating clothes existed simultaneously, sometimes overlapping, sometimes running in parallel. The sources used for this study do not always allow for precise identification of some of the qualitative changes in the clothing worn in Piebalga. However, it can be seen that dress culture differed in the clothes of the beginning, middle and end of the 19th century.

This study is illustrated with original drawings and reproductions of materials in museums and other collections, and there are sketches by the artist Anda Nordena. The weavers’ workshop “V?ver?šas” and the Vecpiebalga weavers’ group have provided replicas of Piebalga folk costume components (shirts, skirts, sashes, headdresses, mittens, socks, etc.), which have been based on the other sources used in this study.

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