Joomla project supported by everest poker review.

Dimitrios Samaras

Headdresses and costumes at Roumlouki.

Samaras, Dimitrios: "Headdresses and costumes at Roumlouki", 16th International Congress on Dance Research, Corfu, Greece, 30/10-3/11, 2002.

1. The headdresses

1.1. The tsemperi

The tsemperi is a type of headdress worn by young girls at the age of 15 and 16 years old, when they wear the sagia (main costume). The tsemperi is made from a square white piece of material, the ntartma, a mafesi, a piece of woolen cloth and a ribbon. First the hair is tried in a plait at the top of the head with a ribbon, which goes under the chin. Then the head is covered with a white ntartma with its two corners falling on the right and left sides of the shoulders. We call both these corners magili. The third corner behind the neck is normally embroidered and we call it peristera. The fourth corner, which comes to the front, is folded inside so it will not cover the face. Next we put on the black mafesi, taking two of its opposite corners, bringing them to the center, then folding it parallel, so that its width is about 6-7 cm. We put it around the head leaving the top part of the head free, open so the ntartma is showing, and we fold the corners of the mafesi into it, wrapped around the head. At the high point of the cheeks where the ribbon is touching, we pin it together with the ntartma and the mafesi using a big pin. At this point the head band is firm and this covers the ears and the high cheek bones. Between the ntartma and the mafesi, we usually put a piece of woolen cloth (dipped in melted wax) so that when it is put on the head, a katsoula is formed. The two ends of the ntartma that fall at the shoulders left and right, are twisted, turned back and brought to the back part of the head on the neck. On the black mafesi, above both ears, we put real or artificial flowers, and feathers from a lyrebird. On the headdress we often add the maglikoutari, a jewel which young girls do not usually have, because usually only their grandmothers have it. Young single girls wear the maglikoutari at the back of the neck on the black mafesi. If they want to look older, they wear it on the right side of the side of the head, beginning at the top left side, over the right high cheek and ending at the back of the head.

1.2. Everyday and festive headdress or katsouli

The everyday headdress is not different from the festive one. The only difference is that the festive headdress is decorated more. The difference between this head band (katsouli) and the tsemperi is that it consists of two more pieces, the katsouli and the tsemberi (white mafesi). The katsouli is the main part of the headdress and that is how the whole head band got its name.

1.2. The katsouli or katsiouli

This is a small oval wooden wreath that has sheep's wool put in it, and a white material is sewn around the wooden rod. We can imagine it like a big white egg. In the center of both sides, left and right, a ribbon about 40-50 cm wide is sewn, so that it can go down under the chin and keep the katsiouli firm at the top of the head. This ribbon is called magouri. The way the head band is worn: After gathering all the hair to the front, a plait is made starting from the front and working towards the back. Next we pass the magouri under the chin, firmly fixing the katsouli on the top of the head, and tightening the plait around it. We leave a fringe on the forehead, and a few pieces of hair on the side, which we wet using soap and water, forming what we call tsouloufia (curls). The ntartmas is put on in the same way that we described for the previous head band tsemberi as on the ntartma we put the white mafesi (also called tsemberi) after it has been folded slantwise. At the high point of the cheeks the tsemberi is pinned to the magouri. The rest of the part that hangs on the magili comes round the neck on top of the peristera and the right side overlaps the left, pinning it to the ntartma. Finally the two ends are tied tightly around the katsouli making it firmer. In exactly the same way we put the black mafesi on top of the white one. The black one is wider so it can cover all the white surface apart from the katsouli and the peristera. On the front part of the head between the two mafesia we again form the katsoulia. Lengthwise, at the top of the katsouli, we leave opened so we can hardly see the ntartma. Around the katsouli where we pin the black mafesi we can see colourful pins that hold it firmly. As far as the magili is concerned, meaning the two ends of the ntartma that fall on the shoulders left and right, the way that they are tied depends on many factors. For the working hours summer and winter the magili was tied tightly under the chin, protecting the wearer from the sun in the summer and keeping them warm in the winter. Older women tied it this way to hide their face too. During festivals, dances, visits and in church, the magili was turned back at the top of the head using both hands, and pinned crosswise at the base of the katsouli. The maglikoutari, the basic jewel, was put on the right side on top of the black mafesi. Above the ears and the high cheek bones real and artificial flowers were placed, also feathers from a lyrebird. Naturally this was only done by young girls and not by older women. The older ones only wore the maglikoutari. Much older women or the ones in mourning did not wear the katsouli; "they dropped it" as they say, and their headband consisted of one or two black mafesia (handkerchiefs). There were two sizes of mafesia. The small one was 90 x 90 cm and the big one was 120 x 120 cm. When they wore only one mafesi (generally the small one), they usually tied it tightly under the chin. When the housework was done, or if it was very hot, the mafesi was tied on the head by passing its two ends at the back of the neck. On top of this headband, many women wore another bigger mafesi, putting it slightly back on the head so that the smaller one could be seen underneath. The ends fell in front of the face, and by crossing them they pushed the right side up towards the left cheek and the left side to the right so that it would cover the chin. If they were in mourning they also covered the mouth and the nose, leaving only the eyes.

1.3. Bridal headband or "fountes" (crests)

The bridal headband has other pieces added to decorate it more. They make it more impressive. These are: the hrisotsempero, the fountes, the jewels, and the extra flowers. The bridal headband is tied in exactly the same way as we have described for the previous headband, the only difference being that the magili is not put up before the wedding ceremony. The magili is ironed and starched. On this headband, exactly on the top of the forehead and on the black mafesi, the hrisotsempero is put. The last piece is a rectangular piece of woolen cloth 20 cm long and 10 cm wide. This piece of cloth is embroidered with gold lace (gaitani). On the long side of the forehead small gold coins are sewn. After the hrisotsempero and the good maglikoutari, come the fountes. The fountes are small, about 15 to 20 of them, and each 15 cm long (all the same). They are sewn tightly together side by side on an arrow shaped piece of material and all of them together make up the one founta. The same is done with the second founta. The principal colour of the founta is black, and amongst it there are other colours like blue, brown, green and red. The fabric that the small fountakia are sewn on to form the big one is sometimes gold embroidered and sometimes not. One of the fountes is put on the katsouli using a large pin so that the back end reaches just above the neck, reminding us of an ancient headpiece. If a founta that is longer than the first one is put on the right side of the head its ends meet the ends of the top founta, and between them is a spare space which is called ''paneri'' and is filled with flowers. The women of Meliki put on the second founta in a different way. They put it a little bit higher than the hrisotsempero and under the katsoula. After the fountes the headband's decoration is completed flowers and jewels. As well as the best maglikoutari that has already been put on, a second one is put on at the back of the head on the peristera. One other necessary jewel for the bridal headband is the doulia, which decorated the ears. The doulia are hooked onto the black mafesi. At the ends they have chains which pass down to the chin. Under the doulia the tsourakia are put, and at this point all the fabrics with the magouri are pinned. The tsourakia at this point had a small flower and a chain with gold coins reaching a small star that was hooked at the back of the head where the two fountes joined. On this beautiful and impressive headband, long gold and silver ribbons were also hung. On these ribbons they hung coins so when the bride bowed to pray the coins would touch the ground from their weight. Finally, as in the rest of Greece, the face of the bride is covered with a silk see-through fabric, red in colour. Later on this red colour is substituted with a white one.

2. The costume

Starting from the inside part of the costume the woman' s costume consists of the parts below:

2.1. The katastari

The katastari is a woolen jumper, which is worn mostly in winter for warmth. A lot of women also wear it in summer because they believe that it absorbs the sweat.

2.2. The shirt or poukamisa

The shirts are woven on a loom and are usually cotton and very fine. In the white cotton fabric there are silk vertical lines that are white or cream in colour. The shirt consists of two loose pieces, the front and the back, about 40-50 cm long depending on woman' s body, the lagiolia, which are added pieces of fabric sewn under the armpits, 2 or even 3 on each side, and the sleeves. Usually the shirts are quite loose and when they are worn, tightening the belt and the founta on top, loukia (pleats) are formed. In older times the length was longer and it reached down to the ankle but later it started to shorten and reached just below the knee. The shirt is put on from the opening it has on the top front part that reaches just below the breasts. The length of the sleeves varies and some of them reach the elbow but others reach down as far as the hand. Most of the shirts that are left and we can still see in old photos are not embroidered but their finish was done using elaborated silk. A lot of them are embroidered with geometrical illustrations and others have images taken from everyday and agricultural life, for example grapes, vine branches birds etc. We also find shirts with crochet laces, and others that have metallic tinsels, which shake during walking, developing beautiful colours.

2.3. The trahilia

The trahilia consists of 2 pieces of woven fabric, which is fine and rectangular shaped. They are 30-35 inches long and are joined on the top with a cord that passes through the back of the neck and is firmly secured at the front of the chest, covering the opening where the jumper was showing. The shapes on the trahilia were woven on a loom using gold thread, or cotton, or with different illustrations like those on the shirts.

2.4. Anteri

The anteri is a part of the bridal costume. It is usually sleeveless, open at the front, with one side overlapping the other at the feet. Its fabric is very thick and lined with cotton and wool. The anteri was worn on the top of the shirt and under the sagia.Many books say that there were many colours of anteri but the only ones I have seen and own are all black, apart from the top back which is off-white.

2.5 The sagias

The sagias is the main clothing of the costume. We find it in two colours, the white one, which young girls and brides wear, and the dark blue one, which is worn by older women. Its fabric is also woven on a loom, and sometimes it is very fine and other times very thick and tight. The sagia is all open at the front and tight fitting at the waist, with thick sleeves to the elbows. One characteristic that we do not find in other parts of Greece is that this costume specially emphasizes n the woman's chest. Under the armpits, as in the shirt, strips of the fabric are added, keeping it tight fitting. The two front corners, the aprons, have two triangular pieces of fabric, white for the white sagia and different colours like black, dark blue, dark green, and dark red for the blue one. The trims, the collar and the finishings on the sagia are sewn with the same fabric correspondingly. These triangles are folded and pinned back at the hips and under the belt. They are embroidered with great care and technique with gold and silver cord. On the white sagia, the most common illustrations are flowers like those on the shirts, the only difference being that these are bigger and more colourful. In the middle of the sagia, below the belt, a big pocket is sewn, a big mbouz(ou)nara. Finally, it is worth saying that the bride and the older women do not lift the aprons of their sagia. In other words, they do not lift the "pataries".

2.6. The belt

The belt, which is black and woolen, is also woven on a loom. It is about 2 to 2.5 meters long and 15-20 cm wide. On it there are different designs like crosses and plain vertical stripes of different colours. The knit on the belt varies and that is why some of them are finer than others. In the finer belts, which are longer, we notice that they have two different designs. Half of the belt is different from the other half. This of course was done to show that the woman had a variety of clothes. Finally the bride's and the newly weds' belt differs from the rest. On it there are metallic tinsels, making the body look smart and slender. The fouta: On the top of the belt, there is the woolen fouta (apron), black in colour, which covers the shirt exactly on the top of the embroidered lace. These aprons are plain with vertical lines. Others have different designs like diamond shapes, crosses and zigzags, designed from the top to the bottom like stripes. The older designs were woven on a loom but later they were embroidered. On the top part of the apron (about 4-5 cm from the ends) a cord was sewn on the top of the belt. The fact that the cord was sewn further in and not at the ends, was that it made the apron to lift upwards on the left and the right, forming what we call "Aftia" (ears). During working hours, the women do not wear the apron but wear the "pistimali" which has a finer weave and is much bigger. The colours are dark like dark blue, black, grey and the design is plain, with vertical and horizontal stripes of the bride's colours. There are only a few with embroidery of distinctive colours.

2.7. The broumanika

These are added pieces of velvet fabric which cover the hands from the sagia downwards. They are usually dark red and purple and are embroidered above the hand with gold and silver cords. On the top part from the lower end they are open and close with buttons which are sewn vertically. The broumanika are rarely worn. Only the brides and the newly weds wear them.

2.8. The kontosi

The kontosi is mainly the top part of the costume and was essentially worn often by the bride in the winter months. It was woven on the loom or it was a black woolen fabric. It was tight fitting and it only covered the top back part of the body, leaving the front open at the chest. It was also embroidered with a gold cord around the bottom part, on the collar, and a little on the ends of the sleeves which reached the elbows. Small gold flowers also decorated the top back part. Inside, it was lined with sheepskin, with white or brown wool for warmth and was decorated with fur which was sewn around the neck and to the left and right at the chest. Most of the kontosia cannot be worn today because they are too tight.

2.9. The skoufounia

Skoufounia or sk'founia are woolen socks which are made with knitting needles called "kloutses". They reach the knee and the common designs are horizontal lines of different colours.

2.10. The kontogouni

The kontogouni is a small black thick woolen coat which the women wear in winter. Inside it is lined with lamb skin for warmth. Another word for the kontogouni is "kapoti"

2.11. Footwear

The women wore "tsarouhia", made from fine pigskin, during working hours and so did the men. At other times (festivals, dances etc.) they wore black shoes called "kountoures".

2.12. Jewellery

The area of the Roumlouki was rich in jewels, most of which we still find today. These jewels are ordered from Veria and Naousa. Some of these are: the maglikoutari, doulia, tsourakia, pafilia, kopsias, the giorntani, the zostra, the asimohairo, the stavros, the kadena, the mpiltzikia, the skalomagkaro, the mamountiedes, the flouria, the pentolira and tokades.


Ageliki Chatzimichali: Grek folk art. Athens, Pyrsos, 1931.

Translated by Despina Hantzopoulou, Angathia Imathias 54031

Text processing by Anna Nerkizoglou

Dimitrios G. Samaras



Articles View Hits
Monday the 27th.