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Folk costumes

photo:  (archiv)

The folk costume comprises clothing that is characteristic of a certain region. In the areas of the Czech Republic connected with the historical division of the state, the costumes of the plebeian social classes have experienced a rather complex evolution. Folk clothing can only be classified in a clear historical manner with some difficulty.

At present, folk costumes in the Czech Republic are no longer commonly worn, but people still wear them during traditional popular celebrations and entertainment events such as banquets and carnivals. This tradition is strongest in the eastern part of the country and in Moravia.


The Blata folk costume is worn in the region between České Budějovice, Tábor, Jindřichův Hradec and Vodňany. Previously it extended as far as Moravia and into Czech villages in Austria. It occupies a large area. Consequently, although it is uniform in character, differences have evolved in various regions, primarily in embroidery patterns.

The Blata costume, especially the women’s costume, is very lavishly decorated with embroidery. Embroidery using beads and sequins used to be typical. The Blata plena (which is something like a large scarf) was the most opulent part of the attire. The plenawas tied through a soft, three-part bonnet, with an embellished embroidered band protruding in front of its laced collar. Chemises were richly embroidered in the first half of the 19th century and beads were also embroidered in the second half of the 19th century.  There was a collar or "výkladek" around the neck above an embroidered shirtfront.


Doudlebsko is the southernmost Bohemian region. It borders on the Blata region to the north while Austria and Germany lie to the south. The area is named after the original inhabitants, the Doudleb tribe, who settled here in the early period of Czech history.

In its character and simplicity, the folk costume reveals that Doudlebsko was the poorest region. It was plain and simple attire, which was not lavishly embellished.

The female costume consisted of a close-fitting undershirt, on which there was a shirt with traditional sleeves. This was most often complemented with a red skirt with a large deep pocket and many petticoats. A bodice also matched the skirt in a color emphasizing a slender waistline. A colored silk scarf, which every woman took pride in, was tossed over the shoulder.

The male costume consisted of yellow deerskin trousers, or “praštenky,” down to the knees, which went with blue knitted stockings and shoes with a buckle. A “bunda” or short or long jacket was worn with the costume and a fur coat was worn in winter. A hat, or "podstok," made of pig's hair was tall like a stovepipe hat. The dominant feature of the attire with pride of place was a broad belt furnished with a solid disc at the front, adorned with fine off-white needlework. The belts were not just a decorative accessory, but were also used to carry money, especially when the man was traveling.


Just like other areas in Bohemia and Moravia, Haná also had its typical folk costume. This dress fully corresponds to the character of the region – it was dignified and attractive. The male attire can sometimes give the impression of being too opulent and boastful, but it is very beautiful. In the vicinity of Hačky, the costume was not so expensive in view of the submontane character of the landscape and the greater penury of the people. It merely imitated the Haná costume. The further one went from Haná, the simpler the embroidered decorations were, without any opulence, and common plain clothes soon supplanted the costume.

The male costumes had the most varied accessories. The most interesting of these comprised leather Haná belts made in the vicinity of Litovel, which were adorned with fine metal strips hammered into them and often combined with embroidery of very narrow straps of multicolored leather.

The Haná costume is distinguished according to individual localities, particularly through the color of the trousers – gate – and the tunic or the shape of the hat. For example, a Haná native in Kroměříž, Holešov and Prostějov would have red leather trousers (Moravian Slovaks call them "bane") tied under the knees with tassels.

The calves from the knees to the ankles are clothed in linen leg wraps, or "velický. " These cover about a third of the boots, which are high, and shiny with a woollen rosette on top at the front. The Haná waistcoat is made from green material, which is colorfully embroidered around the holes and adorned with bright (often silver) buttons. There is a leather, nicely embroidered belt, about as wide as a palm, around the body. Festive Hana attire comprises a long blue coat with copious pleated collars. Men from Haná wore long hair with a shaven face. 

Married women did not show their hair to anyone (not even their own men). It would be a source of shame if this were to happen. A headscarf had to cover the hair completely. While working, (especially in the summer heat when a headscarf would be bothersome) married women wore a white decoratively knitted bonnet on their heads, which they also left on under the headscarf in order to spare it and not get it greasy from the hair.

Cheb region (Chebsko)

The Chebsko folk costume bears the hallmarks of the German ethnic group, which was strongly represented in Chebsko at the time folk costumes were being refined. Regional clothing here settled into a relatively uniform appearance, which we can find in the area of the Šumava Mountains and the Ore Mountains (Krušné hory).

In the Chebsko costume, the color black predominates among both men and women. In the costume, there are often parts sewn from brocade and silk. Women wore elaborate velvet bodices and a scarf at an angle across the breast. One typical feature of the female Chebsko costume was the special manner in which the scarf was tied, on the head at the nape into a crown above the forehead.

A peculiar feature of the Cheb region is the use of silver jewelry, which was a distinctive part of the female costume. These costumes were not only worn in Chebsko, but also in the Ore Mountains. In Karlovy Vary, in the vicinity of Žlutice or Teplá, and in other places in the western border areas, the female costume was distinguished by gold or silver bonnets with ribbons at the nape.  

Chod Region (Chodsko)

Chodsko is the only area in Bohemia where folk clothing is still preserved to this day . For Chodsko itself, it became the typical form of wedding dress from the 1860s and '70s with minor changes. Today, it is reserved only for exceptional occasions and concentrated in the immediate vicinity of Domažlice and Postřekov.

From the 1830s, the Chodsko folk costume developed in such a way that three different groups emerged: the upland (horský) and lowland (dolský) costumes as well as the less well-known Stankov costume. The "dolský" costume , worn in the valley villages around Domažlice (Mrákov, Klíčov, Tlumačov, Stráž, Újezd, Draženov, Pocinovice and Lhota), was more opulent, while the shape of the costume was focused above the waist. The costume of the upland villages, which was typical for communities around Postřekov, had a simpler form and it focused on the waist. In general, it retained a more antiquated character. Besides these two types of costume, a third Stankov type also existed. This, however, adopted elements of town fashion from neighboring Klatovy and Chotěšov.

The wedding form of folk costume from the second half of the 19th century, has perhaps also been preserved by folklore ensembles who present Chodsko folk customs and folklore at numerous ceremonial occasions. At Chod Castle in Domažlice there is a permanent exhibition, which also includes a figurative composition of a Chodsko wedding.

Opava Silesia

The Opava folk costume retains a style with echoes of 19th-century town fashion and it shows a number of common features with some costumes from economically prosperous regions of Bohemia. In the Opava region, traditional costumes were only worn until around the mid-19th century.

The female costumes had a fairly common style for their time. The bonnets were peculiar. On the one hand they were white, fine sewn at the crown, and braided with Valencienne lace, and on the other hand they were adorned with sophisticated embroidery with many golden sequins and glass beads. Another type of spectacular bonnet was made of colorful silk and velvet with a golden embroidered crown and braided around the edge with golden lace and gray rabbit fur. The bonnet has the shape of a medieval hood with elongated ears and long ribbons. Silesian ribbons are characterized by their width and fine pattern, which matches the style of the folk costume. They were bound around the bonnets and tied around the waist with the bow to the front. They often comprised the dominant embellishment of the dress.

Men soon adopted dark period clothes with long trousers, usually tucked into high boots. They also wore white shirts, waistcoats and jackets with metal buttons, period hats (e.g. stovepipe hats) and dark silk scarves under the neck.

Plzeň region (Plzeňsko)

The area for the Plzeňsko folk costume spanned around 30 villages and it’s possible to encapsulate it via the following points: Ledce and Záluží in the north, Dějšina and the rather far-flung Ejpovice in the east, Plzenec and Outušice to the south, and Vejprnice and Křimice in the west. The influence of the folk costume also asserted itself strongly in Plzeň itself.

The character of the Plzeňsko folk costume was quite clearly pronounced. It did not succumb in peripheral areas to the influences of the folk costumes of neighboring regions, which is something we often encounter in most other folk costumes. Since its own area was not too extensive, it did not show any substantial deviations, and insofar as these occurred from village to village, they were generally not noticeable.

The distinctiveness of the Plzeňsko female folk costume primarily consists of its unusual width, which Plzeňsko women achieved with a number of underskirts that was uncommon anywhere else. If five or six underskirts were the maximum for another costume, this was only the beginning for the Plzeňsko costume, because a fashionable girl wanted 12 to 15 for her wedding or sometimes even as many as 24. Therefore it was no wonder when the woman lifted them up slightly in church to make them “lighter,” because carrying their weight demanded quite a lot of effort, even from a sturdy countrywoman. There was little embroidery on the Plzeňsko woman’s costume – just a little bonnet with “wings,” adapted from ribbons known as “kalunky,” and then thin kalunky for aprons (“fertoch”). For especially festive occasions, women also wore pleny, or cloths, and white embroidered fertoch aprons only occurred rather infrequently.

There was not much embroidery, but because of its beauty it can be counted among the most beautiful examples of folk needlework ever. The embellishments, which adorned the bodices and white woollen jackets, are relatively simple and less striking so they lag far behind the magnificent white embroideries. The chemise had white medium-size bulbous sleeves. These were sewn into a woven band at the elbow, which also bordered the neckline at the throat. A small silk scarf was placed across the breast. The endings of this scarf were tucked behind the bodice. Red stockings were worn on the legs along with carved shoes on thick high heels, which were tied at the vamp by a green riband. These were later replaced by tightened velvet boots (“bůtky”) with a glossy indented edge.

The male Plzeňsko costume is also restrained. The upper parts were tailored from good blue cloth, braided in red at the edges. All the parts had fastenings of shiny golden brass buttons. The light deerskin trousers were often adorned with stitched decorations. The boots were hard and high up to the knee or else soft turndown boots were worn.

For single and married men, an otter cap was the headgear for less festive occasions. The crown was usually red velvet and a golden string was sewn into a star six times across it, and fastened in the middle by a golden tassel. For a festive costume, men wore black stovepipe hats with a low surface and a somewhat indented crown, which had a black riband wrapped around it. The border was wider and also straight. Black silk ribands were sewn along the sides from below and these were used for tying the hat under the chin.

Prachen region (Prachensko)

Prachensko covers a large portion of Central Bohemia. The main centers were the ancient cities of Písek, Strakonice, Volary and Milevsko. In terms of folk costume, the region’s dress is not uniform or even too distinctive.

The female Prachensko folk costume had a very somber and serene appearance. It is distinguished by a white embroidered plant decoration, completed with flowers sewn in fine webs. For festive occasions, women wore white embroidered skirts, which extended past half the calves and which were wide and gathered into thick folds at the waist. A silk apron went with the white skirt. This would be brown, violet, red and sometimes iridescent in color, and would extend to the edge of the skirt. White aprons were worn with colored skirts. Women wore a white embroidered neckband around the throat. They placed a silk scarf diagonally on the shoulders with the tips tucked behind the bodice. They wore their hair divided into partings combed right down to the ears. They wore a thin black velvet ribbon across the forehead. Women also tied a babushka scarf on their heads.

The men wore leather trousers, which they called "brslenky." They would also wear woollen stockings and high boots. Festive shirts had long and wide sleeves down to the wrist and a collar at the neck was well as cuffs embroidered with black cotton. The sleeves were frilled at the shoulders. Men never wore ribbons near the neck. The jacket was short, only waist length, and it was braided at the front and the neck with red edging ("paspulka"). It had two rows of shiny buttons at the front. After getting married, a man wore a long coat with two coattails, which gaped open when he walked. They wore a hat or otter cap on their head or else wore a round cap with lambskin. In winter, older men had short fur coats of tanned sheepskin with the edge adorned with black lambskin. The seams were decorated with colored thread – some had an embroidered flower on their backs, usually a tulip. They wore a fur cap with the fur coat.


Slovácko is the name for an extensive and heterogeneous ethnographic region covering a substantial part of southeast Moravia and its population, which has had a complex historical evolution.  

In this area, on a relatively large territory, the folk costume is the one that has been preserved the longest in the Czech Republic. To this day, people here walk around partly in folk costume, especially old women and youths. Older people also wear a simplified folk costume for everyday use. This is especially distinct in terms of the shape and composition of its components, i.e. clothing with short wide skirts, an apron, a woollen or cotton bodice, and a scarf on the head in various modifications.

On the other hand, youths, including young boys and men, only wear the folk costume a few times a year, e.g. at banquets. Nevertheless, it is a costume consisting of the most opulent and embellished forms.

Tábor region (Táborsko)

In Táborsko, the so-called “kozácký” folk costume was worn. This is the third most famous folk costume in South Bohemia after the Blata and Doudlebsko costumes. The Tábor region’s folk costume bears the strange name of "kozácký" for reasons that are altogether unknown. Perhaps it’s because the protuberance on the man’s jacket is reminiscent of a goat’s tail, and that the hard end of the pinner under the woman’s scarf or plena is like a goat’s horns (the Czech word for goat is “koza”).  Perhaps it’s because the word "kozí" occurs quite often in Táborsko place names (Kozí Hrádek, Kozský or Kozí potok, etc.). It is probably because Taborsko was a poor region, where they reared goats more than cows, and so the name is apparently a scornful one.

The female kozácký costume is distinguished by the opulence of its floral embroideries. They were mostly embroidered on cotton fabrics because they are more flexible and durable upon pulling out the threads. Flax linen soon breaks and the lining falls out. Thin flax linen was only used in the Harrachov demesne for the traditional aprons known as fertoch. Fertoch aprons were tied up at the front. The entire surface was adorned with flowers (sometimes with as many as eight kinds). Stockings were white and went with black shoes with a fold and buttons. Single girls had a costume that was distinguished by its whiteness and fluttering multicolored ribbons. Married women had a costume with more solemn and subdued colors.

The male costume was simpler. The shirt was made of thin linen without embroidery. Only a few folds were sewn along the side of the shirtfront. A silk scarf was tied under the plain collar. The waistcoat was of a simple cut and fastened with a row of metal buttons. The jacket was close-fitting without embellishment and with only a protruding coattail at the back running into a point, which gave rise to the mocking name  "kozak." The long coat was tightly clinging and extended to the waist, with a raised collar and rather small shoulder boards. Its sleeves were broad at the shoulder and narrow at the wrist. The cloth was dark blue or brown. The trousers were mostly tight leather "práštěnky" tied with a string under the knee. The stockings were white or blue. Low shoes were exchanged for hard high boots.

Moravian Wallachia (Valašsko)

The Valašsko folk costume (which has disappeared with few exceptions) can now only be seen in museums, at folklorist celebrations, and on some folk dancers and musical ensembles.

The traditional Valašsko folk costume consists of a fur coat, white shirt, tight trousers, peasant shoes and a hat. With women, the costume consisted of a white, roughly pleated skirt, a black apron at the front, a bodice with traditional sleeves, and a white embroidered scarf on the head.

Added: 01.01.2010

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