Costumes: Thessaly - The Karagounian Costume

There has not yet been a definitive interpretation of the name "Karagounis". N.A. Veis writes it derives from kara("black" in Turkish) and gouna ("coat") which, however, is not a part of their costume, while N. Eleftherides writes that it derives from karayiounan, a compound word from the Turkish kara and the Greek name Ionas, which in Persian becomes yiounan from Iaoun (Iaon, Ion) and is used generally to mean Greek.

The bridal costume worn in the Thessalian plain is still used in our days in a modified and simplified version. It has a chemise, the linomaniko poukamiso, edged with a thick black fringe on the hem and sleeves. The diplos sayias consists of two cotton dresses. The outer dress, which is usually of indigo-blue color, has many folds and an added border sewn upon the hem, with embroidered patterns matching those of the short waistcoat, the yileki. The front of the bust is covered by a dickey of cotton material. The costume includes an apron of felt, and an apron made of silk. The kavadomanika, which are ornamental arm-bends, are worn over the sleeves. The head is dressed with false plaits and a cotton or silk kerchief. The costume is accompanied by a great many ornaments. The winter version of the costume has a heavy overcoat made of black wool.

Benaki Museum
Ioanna Papantoniou

Costumes: Thrace, Thessaly, Epirus - The Sarakatsani Nomads

The Sarakatsani people are semi-nomadic stock farmers with true Greek origins, their roots lost deep within the bygone centuries. All expressions of their way of life are attached to very old traditions. Their flocks, their only possession and source of their sustenance, determine the unchangeable rhythm of their life revolving around the uninterrupted movement toward better pastures.

the Sarakatsani of the Pindus range spread out in every direction, to the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, Macedonia and Thessaly, until eventually populating the plains of the whole of the Greek mainland, reaching Attica, Euboea and northern Peloponnese.

In the final development of the costume, we notice two basic kinds. The first was worn by the Sarakatsani who were scattered over western Macedonia, Epirus, Thessaly, Sterea, as far as Attica and Euboea and the northern Peloponnese and is characterized by a frugal simplicity. The second kind was worn by the Sarakatsani who passed the winter in central and eastern Macedonia, the Serres and Kavala area, as well the mountainous region of Paranestion Rodopis.

Benaki Museum

Costumes: Ionian Islands - Corfu - Lefkimmi

Corfu (Kerkyra) is the northern-most of the Ionian Islands, the island of the Phaeacians. Although a half-way station between Italy and Greece, it was influenced by the village-style of costume of the neighboring mainland rather than the urban dress, as was the case with smaller centers in the rest of Greece. However, the headpiece shows some relationship with the headpieces of the Medieval age.

The white chemise and the white petticoat serve as under-garments. The outer skirt was most of the time fashioned of taffeta. the front of the bust is covered by the boustina, a white embroidered dickey. The waist is girded by thechrysozonior chrysokimero, which was partly covered by a small sleeveless waistcoat, the tzipouni, held in place with false gold buttons. The bridal apron, the velenia, is made of either silk fabric or of tulle ornamented with multicolored trimmings. The costume includes a sleeved jacket, the peseli or kremezo. The ornate bridal head-dress, known as stolos or yadema, is largely based on the coiffure: the hair is arranged in a kind of crown, coiled around four tube- like hair-pads, which are wrapped in red ribbons.

Ioanna Papantoniou
Dora Stratou Theater

Costumes: Central Greece and the Peloponnese - The Town Costume - Foustanela

The costume called Foustanela, established by Otto, the first King of Greece, as the formal court dress in the middle of the 19th century, prevailed in the urban centers of Moreas (Peloponnese) and Roumeli (Central Greece). This dress was originally the military outfit of the Greek chieftains.

The costume was soon modified by the men for holidays and other festive occasions. The outfit that is shown here has two jackets, the inner waist coat, the yileki, and a second sleeved short jacket, the fenneli, with the sleeves falling freely over the back.

The material that was used for this version. is wool. The embroidery is made of spun wool and the belt is of a fine leather work.

The Foustanela has changed in the meaning of detailed work, the length of the fousta, and, sometimes, the number of jackets worn. The sleeves have become decorative, resembling wings without the function of sleeves. After all the changes, it has become the standard Pan-Hellenic male costume used to the modern times.

Costumes: Attica - Mesogeia - The Bridal Costume

One of the most opulent of Greek costumes is the bridal attire from the Mesogeia region of Attica. Apart from the foundi and the tzakos almost the entire outfit was a gift from the groom, together with the jewelry. It was worn only on high days and holidays during the year that followed the wedding day, or in rare cases until the woman reached the age of thirty. Thereafter a simpler dress without any embroidery was worn.

The costume has a sleeveless chemise with embroidered hem, the foundi. A short-sleeved bodice, the tzakos, is worn over the chemise and a red belt around the waist. The costume includes two sleeveless gold-embroidered overdresses, the so-called griza me ta chrysa. The hair is adorned with peskoulia or masour plexides, i.e. cords with tassels and silver ornaments braided into the plaits. A small cap, the fesi, is entirely covered by a head-scarf of cloth-of-gold, the chrysi obolia. The costume is accompanied by a wealth of jewelry: the xelitsi, an ornament worn on the forehead, the large yiordani, a net-like pectoral ornament, another yiordani worn around the neck, and the kordoni, composed of usually ten chains hung with coins. The various traditional ornaments of the past have completely disappeared around the early 20th century.

Ioanna Papantoniou
Benaki Museum