Winter AS XXXIV (2000)
Volume V, Issue 2 (#17)

From the Nachalnik

What is a SIG member? Now that we have an on-line form for membership, the potential ease with which people can join our Group has never been greater. On one hand, it is great to have an organization that is so open to new members, but there is an attendant problem of new members who do not understand what the Group is or what the purpose of membership is. Meanwhile, there are a number of older members (I am now discovering) who have either forgotten or were never properly informed. It seems like a good idea, then, to say once again a few words about the purpose of the Group.

The Slavic Interest Group was founded for the purpose of providing a meeting ground through which people with Slavic and EE personae could meet and share information. Slovo, the bibliography, and the web pages were merely ancillary to that project. One of the earliest things we did was ask anyone who wanted to do so, to list themselves and then we published and distributed that information so that other people would know who we are, what we do, and where we could be found. Anyone could participate in the Group, but in order to be considered a "member," you had to be willing to make yourself available to anyone (member or non-member) who wanted help. Even if you knew absolutely nothing (which was unlikely) you could be useful to someone. For this reason, anyone who wanted to be a member had to provide a surface mailing address. Most members also gave their phone numbers and emails, but this was never required for members.

In the years that have passed, most members opted to receive only electronic notification of the newsletter and read it on the web page. The surface addresses became less important. Countless times, I've received the message, "Oh don't worry about my surface address, I'll read the Slovo on-line." But that, in fact, misses the point. The surface address is not there for Slovo, it is there so people can correspond with you. It is there so you could be a "member," which means being willing to share what you know (however great or small that might be) with others. And you cannot share what you know unless you are willing to publically make available surface contact information (whether you choose to make email and/or phone numbers available is no concern to me).

With that in mind, if you have received an e-mail notification about this Slovo or received this copy in the mail, then you are a member. Your name and surface address (and email and phone number, if you provided it when you signed up) have been listed on our membership list. That list is publically available in hardcopy to anyone (including non-members) who requests it and is posted on the SIG web site. If that is a problem for you, then politely let me know that you no longer wish to be a member and (given a reasonable period of time) I will remove you from our membership rolls. Obviously, I would not be writing this sermon if I had not, unfortunately, had problems recently. Hopefully, with this statement, I can eliminate any further misunderstandings.

On an entirely different subject: this year's Pennsic is still seven months away, but it will mark our fifth anniversary. If anyone has any good ideas of how to celebrate it, I would love to hear from you.

This quarter's Slovo is brought to you with the financial contributions of Sally Brown and Zosienka Cnota. As always, I am extremely grateful to our contributors (both writers and financial contributors) who make the newsletter possible.

Hungarian Clothing, 1400-1650
Part One: Introduction & Terms

By Mordak Timofei'vich Rostovskogo

The history of many Eastern European fashions and politics can be summed up in the phrase: "An admiration for the West with an eye on the East". This series will endeavor to briefly illustrate the period of 1400-1650 which saw the fashions of this area slowly gravitate from the coate hardies and houppelandes of the Angevian Dynasty (to 1386) to the caftans and trappings of the East and the Ottoman Empire. This section is intended as a brief background of the historical forces that encouraged and influenced this gradual shift.

Geographically, the Kingdom of Hungary has at one time or another been comprised of areas we currently think of as being Romania and which have always been quite independent in both deed and reality from Hungarian control. Historically, the Kingdom of Hungary had close economic, political and cultural ties with those areas currently thought of as Western Europe. Partially this was due to geographical proximity, but factors reinforcing these relations included trade and intermarriage between their inhabitants, especially the high nobility. In the 16th century, these same factors would intertwine the eastern sections of this Kingdom with the fate of Poland and aid in turning fashions eastwards. At the same time, they were subjected to many waves of Eastern invasions, most notably the Avars, Magyars, Cumans (Kipchaqs or Povlotsy), Mongolians and Ottoman Turks during period. Interspersed were periods of waxing and waning Byzantine influence in Hungary and points south. Into this confusing soup of influences, add the sporadic records and dynasties in the region.

For these reasons, the best record of fashion and cultural influence upon it in these regions can often be found in ecclesiastical murals of the rulers, and later, the clothing and fiber artifacts on record, in addition to artistic renderings in several period medians. These sources are not perfect, or even totally accurate in many cases but often are the only resources available. Another valuable resource are the secondary sources of researchers and academic personnel like Margaret Bartoweski, Irena Turnau and Corina Nicolescu. I will be referring to these three authors, as well as several more accessible ones in this series, but these three are the very best sources I have found to date. All of these authors works are authoritative, reasonably politically unbiased and contain many resources and pictures not yet available in the West. Best of all, these works are cited within the current SIG bibliography. I suggest checking the internet for specialists dealing in Eastern European books or with your state library. Often, they are hooked into academic libraries in your state or have access to WorldCat, an international library and supplier resource to aid in your search.

Many times, I have found that good research begins with a listing of the terms available. Usually, further research disqualifies some of these terms as being out of period, but many terms aid in distinguishing between garment references in later research or are verified by other sources. For this reason, I have borrowed the terms applicable to Hungary and Romania from the bibliography of Irena Turnau's work, "History of Dress in Central and Eastern Europe from the Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries". While this work concentrates at the end of period and beyond, it serves as a useful reference for further research into the clothing of these areas. I have distinguished the Hungarian (HUN) from the Romanian (ROM) for each item. "Simple cut" refers to a rectangular front and back of varying lengths. The term "gussets" should be thought of as gores. While, Romanian portraits tended to minimalize the tailoring, Hungarian artisans are much better about clearly showing seams and stichery.

  • Bonda (ROM)- a fur-lined, sleeveless jacket , worn in Bessarabia (east of Transylvania & north of Moldavia)

  • Burke (ROM)- a sheepskin shepherd jacket, worn with the fur outside

  • Burnuz (ROM)- a sleeveless sheepskin jacket, worn in Moldavia

  • Caftanul (ROM)- and early variant of the caftan, of simple cut, usually without a collar, with a round or triangular neck opening, initially not open in front, widened down from the waist with gussets, with wide sleeves tapering to the wrists. Its adorned version was worn in Moldavian courts in the 17th century.

  • Catrinte (ROM)- the two narrowest aprons substituting for a skirt and showing the chemise, sized approximately 0.75 (29.25 in.) by 0.40 (15.6 in.) m. Also see fota and vilnic.

  • Contesul, Contos, Chintes, Chintus (ROM)- a long caftan of simple cut widened with gussets down the waist, with loose elbow-long sleeves, with the right side of the front overlapping the left side, sometimes fur-lined, worn by both sexes.

  • Csako (HUN)- a cap of the csakora cut, that is, with the right side of the front overlapping the left one (essentially a felt pillbox shaped hat, with or without braided or passamentrie edging).

  • Csucha (HUN)- a woolen mantle, often with a hood.

  • Czamara (HUN)- in the 16th & 17th centuries, a long overcoat, gathered at a point over the back of each hip, worn especially by women, often fur-lined and edged with braid.

  • Delia (POL)- men's overcoat, often fur-lined in the body only, with angled waist slits and closures over front of hips at belt line, worn in the 16th & 17th C., with open armpits and hem length decorative sleeves dangling. Since 1550 it had decorative, hem length dangling sleeves and was buttoned with big buttons and loops. The size of the collar varied but was most often depicted as large and square, falling to the middle of the back and often fur. Stephen Bathory, Prince of Transylvania (?-1576) wore one in a period portrait.

  • Dolman (HUN)- first mentioned in 1486, a caftan if simple cut widened down from the waist with gores, the back length sometimes longer than the front by 6-8", with "dogs ears" flaps covering the hand but often worn flipped back over the wrists. Made from a variety of fabrics like wool, silk, linen, brocade, velvet or even quilted. Usually collarless or with a very short stiff collar. Often closed with many small buttons and either loops (with overlapping front closures) or button holes perpendicular to edge (on straight front closures)

  • Dolmanul, Dulama (ROM)- variant of the dolman, often furlined or fur-edged and worn under another garment since the 15th century.

  • Feregeaua, feliageaua (ROM)- boiar's loose costume, made of woolen or silk cloth, often fur-lined, worn over the anteriu.

  • Fota (ROM)- a medium sized apron, 0.60 (23.4 in.) by 0.80 (31.2 in.). See catrinte and vilnic.

  • Fusta (ROM)- a shirt cut with sleeves and chest area from one piece and with another attached for the body and hips.

  • Guibeaua (ROM)- a smart court dress , narrow at the waist , worn over the anteriu in the 16th-17th centuries.

  • Granata, granatza (ROM)- a long, wide coat of simple cut, with angel wing sleeves, richly embroidered and decorated at cuffs, armhole, neck, hem and front opening (neck to hem & closed with buttons & loops).

  • Guba (HUN)- a coat of simple cut, sewn from woolen cloth with a fleecy surface, known since the Middle Ages, the mass production of gubas developed in Debrecen in the 15th-16th centuries.

  • Gube (ROM)- shepherd's sheepskin coat, worn with the fur outside, used in Bessarabia. See Burke.

  • Gugla (ROM)- East Carpathian region, a white, woolen cape with a hood, worn by men.

  • Gurgui (ROM)- pointed shoes made of single pieces of leather, used in mountain regions.

  • Haba (HUN/ROM)- thick woolen cloth, produced in Romania.

  • Habanitsa (ROM)- a caftan of simple cut, worn in Moldavia, made of haba.

  • Icar (ROM)- long, narrow trousers sewn from one piece of woolen cloth, with a folded diamond shaped insert sewn into the crotch.

  • Izmene (ROM)- linen peasant breeches, wider than the icar.

  • Kapca (HUN)- low footwear worn together with flat shoes of the eastern type (slippers).

  • Kapuriac (ROM)- folk women's coif, richly adorned, stiffened by a metal skeleton.

  • Keptar (ROM)- East Carpathian region, short, sleeveless sheepskin jerkin.

  • Kontesh (ROM)- a long overcoat of simple cut, sewn from cloth covered fur, worn by peasants in Moldavia and Bessarabia.

  • Kontos (HUN)- a loose overcoat of simple cut, widened with gussets from the waist, with elbow length sleeves, worn over other caftans.

  • Krype (ROM)- worn in Bessarabia by women, a headdress shaped on a wooden horned loop, with a shawl draped and hanging down at the back.

  • Linje (ROM)- a long shirt with sleeves, worn also in Albania.

  • Mantaua (ROM)- a fur-lined overcoat of luxurious silk, usually patterned, worn in the 15th-17th centuries.

  • Mente (HUN)- an outer caftan of simple cut widened with gussets, usually with the back longer than the front, with a decorative collar and sleeves sometimes only elbow long, with angled waist slits and closures over front of hips at belt line, the name known since 1476.

  • Merame, neframe (ROM)- a festive merem coif of the 16th century, later the peasant marama in Bessarabia, a kind of embroidered shawl.

  • Pancar (HUN)- men's hip long summer over-shirt sewn of patterned silk, or a caftan with high collar and loose, elbow-long sleeves.

  • Parta (HUN)- women's fancy headwear of semicircular shape, trimmed with tinsel and tinsets.

  • Saru, sharu (HUN)- shoes close to Western patterns; the word used in Hungary since the early Middle Ages.

  • Sortul (ROM)- Western-style dress, tight and girdled at waist.

  • Suba (HUN/ROM)- a fur-lined overcoat of the shuba type, a loose garment with a turned down fur collar, with wrist length loose sleeves, with 8-12 large button and loop closures down the front opening, covered in a variety of clothes, usually ankle length, worn by both sexes, first mentioned in 1378 and worn until the end of the 17th century.

  • Suveg (HUN)- a plumed fur or felt cap of varied height, worn from the 16th-19th centuries.

  • Szoknya (HUN)- a caftan edged with passimentre (i.e. trim, usually metallic lace).

  • Szur (HUN)- a long surcoat in which the front and the back were made from a single piece of fabric with the head opening slit in front, with a rectangular or square collar, the sleeves often left hanging and often worn over the shoulders like a cape.

  • Vilnic (ROM)- the widest apron used instead of a skirt in folk dress, sized 4 (156 in.) by 0.70 (27.3 in.) m. See catrinate and fota.

    My Hungarian Persona

    By Feyerwary Ersebet

    [Editor's note: The following is an essay that Ersebet wrote for the American Hungarian Heritage Association, for their Mary Katona Scholarship, about developing her Hungarian persona. It also included a nice plug for us. By the way, she won the scholarship.]

    In my freshman year at the College of William and Mary, I became a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, which is an organization devoted to the study and recreation of medieval and renaissance daily life. That era has always fascinated me, so when I found the branch of the group located here at the College of William and Mary, I joined them. My experience with the Society has led me to meet many wonderful, interesting people, and it has also taken me on a journey in discovery of my own Hungarian heritage.

    All members of the Society are asked to create a persona for themselves. In other words, they must create a character for themselves to play, someone who might have actually lived during the Middle Ages or Renaissance. When one has a persona, the study of history becomes much more personal and enjoyable.

    When I got to thinking about my persona, the first question I asked myself was, "Where in Europe would I have liked to live during the Renaissance?" No sooner had I asked myself this question than the answer presented itself -- I would create a persona from Renaissance Hungary. I chose this era after reading a bit about King Mátyás Hunyadi, also known as Matthias Corvinus. During his reign, from 1458 to 1490 AD, Hungary enjoyed tremendous prosperity both financially and culturally. King Mátyás was a true Renaissance Man, and under his rule, the country flourished. It was no doubt a very exciting time to live, full of new ideas and discoveries, and I very much wanted to develop a persona who would have been in the thick of it. Renaissance Hungary is not as often studied as, say, France or Germany, and I wanted to remedy that for myself.

    So I went to the library and found all the books I could on Hungarian History, and I keep a notebook on what I find. My studies have also taken me to the internet, where my search for information about music got me in contact with a Hungarian choral group called Cantus Corvinus. I am also a member of the Slavic Interest Group, a collection of people from the Society for Creative Anachronism who study Eastern Europe and share information on Renaissance Hungary, Poland, Russia, Czechoslovakia, and other Slavic nations. They are all wonderful people (some are of Hungarian descent and, like me, are learning more about their heritage) and if you want to learn something, they will always help you out.

    Now, of course, no persona is complete without a name. The name I chose had to be one that a lady in Renaissance Hungary would have had. The given name was easy, as Erzsébet is without a doubt my favorite Hungarian name of them all. For my surname, I decided to honor my mother, who was born in Székesféhrvár, and create a persona who lived in Fehér. One of my friends in the Slavic Interest Group directed me to a gentleman who is an expert on Hungarian names, and with the help of a book called Régi Magyar Családnevek Szótára: XIV-XVII Század, by Miklós Kázmér, we found Renaissance spellings of the name I wanted. And now, to my friends in the society, I am known as Lady Ersebet Feyerwary.

    Through becoming a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and creating a period persona for myself, the study of the history of my Hungarian heritage has become a voyage of personal discovery.

    Book Reviews

  • Sedlar, Jean W. East Central Europe in the Middle Ages, 1000-1500. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.

    Many of you may have seen this book already, but it just came across my desk recently. This is definitely one of the better books I've seen regarding medieval history in Eastern Europe. Although scholarly in its approach, the writing style is accessible and engaging and is meant to appeal to those who are not necessarily experts in the field.

    Sedlar, who is a professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh, deals with various themes and compares these across country and nationality lines, which she does in an interesting and effective way. Topics she discusses include migrations, forming of states, monarchies, the various classes, religion, governments, education, and languages. Countries discussed include present-day Poland, the Czech republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, and the former Yugoslavia.

    Maps are included that depict these areas in 1250, 1480, and 1994. As well, I especially like the information in the appendices: a chronology of important events from 681-1699; a list of monarchs and the years they ruled; and place name equivalents for towns and cities. The bibliographical essay at the end of the book is also excellent, and at the beginning of the book, a simple pronunciation guide is perfect for those of us not well versed in Eastern European languages. Alas, the book does not have illustrations.

    This volume is part of the "A History of East Central Europe" series, which includes the following other titles: Historical Atlas of East Central Europe; The Beginnings of History in East Central Europe, 300-1000; The Polish-Lithuanian State, 1386-1795; Southeastern Europe Under Ottoman Rule, 1354-1804; The Peoples of the Eastern Habsburg Lands, 1526-1918; The Lands of Partitioned Poland, 1795-1918; The Establishment of the Balkan National States, 1804-1920; East Central Europe between the Two World Wars; East Central Europe since 1939.

    All in all, I think this volume would be a valuable addition to your reading list or bookshelf.

    -- Katarzyna Kisza


  • Katarzyna Kisza (Kris Jones, 7401 Sparkleberry Dr., Indian Trail, NC 28079, has found a resource for a variety of Polish-related merchandise. The Polish Art Center in Hamtramck, MI has a catalog and a web site that shows their wares. Items include Easter egg decorating kits, posters, puzzles, videos, books, more books, cassettes and CDs, and lots of other neat things. On their web site she discovered reproduction medieval Polish amulets, made out of brass and copper, which include magic characters and prayers inscribed on them. The characters on the amulets were transcribed from a 16th century "magic" belt, which was apparently something worn by medieval Polish knights for protection. There are 24 different amulets pictured, ranging from protection against wild beasts and serpents to guidance for harmony in marriage. She purchased one of these amulets, which was of high quality and unique. The web site also includes many links to all kinds of other Polish-related sites. Polish Art Center, 9539 Jos. Campau, Hamtramck, MI 48212, 1-888-619-9771, 313-874-2242,

  • Katheryne Bochenek (Katheryne Maeder, 721 Columbia St, Utica NY 13502, has another good merchant source: Steven Pano of the Russian American Trading Company (P.O. Box 4004, Shrewsbury MA 01545). "Tell him what you are looking for and he will look in his marvelous collection. Unfortunately, no catalog yet."


  • Katarzyna Kisza (Kris Jones, 7401 Sparkleberry Dr., Indian Trail, NC 28079, is looking for resources, pictures, examples, etc. of what a Polish noblewoman would have worn for her wedding, circa early-mid 1200s.

  • Stefan Jadaszewski of Ugoszcz (Eric Stefan Jadaszewski, RR 2 Box 86D, Peterborough NH 03458, is looking for resources related to 16th and 17th century cavalrymen of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (winged hussars, pancernis, cossacks, and tartars). He speaks Polish and is looking for any information on the period. "I would love to have a costume of a 16th century Polish Szlachta complete with szabla (saber), but I don't know how to get started or where to acquire such items."

    Standard Disclaimer Stuff: Most of us are members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc (SCA) but our Interest Group and its newsletter are not officially affiliated with the SCA. Naturally, then, Slovo does not bear any intentional resemblance to anything that the SCA officially endorses.

    The original authors retain the rights to their works. Please contact them directly for permission to reprint. Uncredited material is the property of the publisher.

    The publisher and editor is Paul Wickenden of Thanet (Paul Goldschmidt), 3071 Cimarron Trail, Madison WI 53719, 608-288-0255, e-mail: There is no subscription fee and copies of this quarterly newsletter are available free of charge from the editor. Slovo is also available on-line at the Interest Group website ( ).