A world within a blouse

DAN NICOLAIE (Translated by Cosmin Ghidoveanu
English Section / 25 iunie

A world within a blouse
DAN NICOLAIE (Translated by Cosmin Ghidoveanu

By celebrating the "ie" (the Romanian blouse), Romanians celebrate themselves and their traditions. Few are the things that so consistently say a story about this people like this blouse does, with its black, white and other colors it includes, in some cases. Its pattern is just like life, with straight lines, but with many curves, which go up and down, each unique in its own way.

On the feast of the Sânziene the heavens open up, the folk tradition claims, and in the face of the traditional ie we open our hearts. The connection to our roots cannot be denied and that is precisely why the traditional blouse has been so successful in recapturing the attention of the public. Whereas in 2013, when the "La Blouse Roumaine" online community proposed that June 24 (the Sânziene feast) become a day dedicated to the ie and be called "The universal day of the ie (Romanian blouse)", it was something out of the ordinary to see somebody wearing the traditional garb, nowadays it is part of the everyday life. Normalcy has returned home, and an increasing number of people have embraced it, young or old, urbanites or rural dwellers.

This day is now celebrated in dozens of countries, and that represents a reason for pride, because we have finally found a way to put beauty forward and show it to the world. Because it would be a shame to deviate from traditions, we present below the presentation made by the Romanian Cultural Institute to the piece de resistance of the Romanian traditional outfit: "The cornerstone of the Romanian traditional garb, is the shirt tailored in a cross-shape, out of one piece of cloth and with an opening in the upper side. The shirts were initially made of linen or hemp, and later, out of silk and cotton. The latter was used for threading the processed linen and hemp, especially in Northern Romania, whereas in the south the shirts were mostly woven with floss silk ("borangic"). The front and the back of the shirt are called «stan», and the lower sides «poale». The stan was made of two sheets of cloth, and the sleeve out of one. At the underarm the shirt had the so-called «pavă», which allowed the wearer to move comfortably. The "ie" is in fact a traditional Romanian shirt for festive occasions, made up of white cloth, cotton, linen or "borangic" (floss silk) and adorned with beads and embroideries on the sleeves and around the neck. The cut is relatively simple: a cloth rectangle, cut in a circle around the neck and reinforced with twisted cord. The sleeves are most of the time wrinkled at the shoulders and at the wrists. It is a type of shirt that went down to the waist, unlike the earlier, older type of shirt, which covered the whole body and was worn below the clothes to protect the body from «witching and dangers». The technique of decorating the Romanian blouse has been passed down from mother to daughter, which has preserved the tradition from one generation to the next. The motifs are stylized, geometrical or inspired by nature. There are several basic variants that decorate the sleeves: either embroidered vertical stripes, (in straight "rivers"), oblique stripes or «stars». The shirt's front was also richly embroidered, by repeating the patterns from the sleeves. There were two colors used in the embroidery - usually in three shades, but sometimes only one color would be used, usually black". According to specialists, the word "ie" is derived from the Latin word "tunicae lineae" - a slim tunic worn on the skin, and the "birth certificate" should be looked for somewhere back during the Cucuteni civilization. In the beginning, the word "ie" was only used to designate the shirt worn by women during feasts. Each explanation only makes us appreciate this garment even more.

We have to admit it's no easy thing to encapsulate an entire world in a shirt. The residents of this land have managed to do so.

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