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Embroidered womens apron from Greece

Made in Thessaly, Greece, 1920-1940.

Apron (podia), womens, embroidered, wool / cord, Thessaly, Greece, 1920-1940. The apron skirt is trapezoidal in shape and made of black twill-weave wool cloth with an applied decoration of narrow braid and cord of gold-wrapped thread. The apron probably once had a high waist band with loops at the top corners for attachment but this, if once present, is now missing. The apron was backed sometime in the 1960s with plain black wool blend fabric. The decorative application of braid divides the apr...

Summary

Object No.

98/71/1

Object Statement

Apron (podia), womens, embroidered, wool / cord, Thessaly, Greece, 1920-1940

Physical Description

Apron (podia), womens, embroidered, wool / cord, Thessaly, Greece, 1920-1940.

The apron skirt is trapezoidal in shape and made of black twill-weave wool cloth with an applied decoration of narrow braid and cord of gold-wrapped thread. The apron probably once had a high waist band with loops at the top corners for attachment but this, if once present, is now missing. The apron was backed sometime in the 1960s with plain black wool blend fabric. The decorative application of braid divides the apron into five panels: a central waist-to-hem rectangular panel with vertical panels on either side, each of which is divided horizontally in two. Each of these panels is bordered on the inside with rows and zigzags of couched gold cord, and features large, elaborate triangular motifs in curling densely-couched embroidery. The sides and hem are decorated with narrow gold braid with ornamental picots.

Dimensions

Width

463 mm

Production

Made

Thessaly, Greece 1920-1940

Designed

Thessaly, Greece

Notes

The apron, or podia, is traditionally one of the most highly decorated components of Greek women's dress, especially the aprons which are made for ceremonial and festive wear. The designs of the aprons vary from region to region, with different shapes, colours and decoration reflecting the wearer's place of origin, as well as her age and social standing. In addition to these social attributes, the motifs on Greek women's aprons also have religious and magical significance.

This apron is trapezoidal in shape, a form worn by women from Karditsa in Thessaly. The people from Karditsa are known as Karagounoi, and this apron is part of the very ornate costume worn by the women when they dance the Karagouna dance. The large triangular decorative motifs are based on stylised vegetation, and are very characteristic of the work of embroiderers in the Balkan regions of eastern Europe. They reflect the strength and influence of the Ottoman legacy throughout the region.

The vast majority of garments worn in the Balkan areas show strong Turkish or Ottoman influence, and those made for special occasions are very often decorated with this type of gold-wrapped thread embroidery.

Gold thread embroidery flourished in Greece during the 18th century. Whereas silk embroidery was the province of women and the domestic arena, metal thread embroidery was done by men, and its importance in social terms brought prestige to the practitioners. Thousands of men followed the trade of 'terzis', tailor and embroiderer, and their guild was one of the wealthiest and most prestigious of the time. These embroiderers, or tersides, travelled throughout the country, embroidering dress according to the local customs and style.

Gold or silver thread was first twisted into thin cords. The design for the embroidery was then traced on paper, and the paper pinned to the face of the material. Following the outlines of the pattern, the embroiderer would couch the cord onto the cloth with fine thread. When the embroidery was finished, the paper was removed leaving the gold cords spiralling across the face of the cloth, with small couching stitches only on the reverse.

The apron was certainly made before 1960. As it takes a traditional form, it is difficult to be certain of the date, but its condition and the medium quality of the embroidery suggest an early to mid 20th century date of manufacture.

History

Used

Greece

Notes

Originally designed as an apron for wear as part of the ornate ceremonial dress worn by women from the Karditsa region of Thessaly in northern Greece for a dance called the Karagouna. When it was bought in Greece in 1965 by Donald Green the apron was folded and stitched to form a bag with a cord shoulder strap added, a form designed to appeal to the foreign tourist market. It was unstitched and returned to apron form by the donor.
The apron was bought by Donald Green for Claire Nilsson in 1965, probably in Athens. At that time it was made up into a shoulder bag, which may well explain why the waistband was removed.

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Claire Nilsson, 1998

Acquisition Date

11 May 1998

Cite this Object

Harvard

Embroidered womens apron from Greece 2019, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 20 January 2020, <https://ma.as/164430>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/164430 |title=Embroidered womens apron from Greece |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=20 January 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

Incomplete

This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.

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