Celebration of traditional Romanian beauty, on Dragobete Day
By Dana Tudose Tianu
Romania has its own “Love Day”, traditionally celebrated on February 24th, called Dragobete. In centuries past, the day was one where young women and men would wear their best traditional outfits and meet up in the village. There would be singing, traditional dance, and some centuries-old customs would end up indicating which couple would find “true love” on that day.
In remote Romanian villages, perhaps the tradition still endures. Unknown to most urban population, the essence of the Dragobete celebration, the pure, traditional beauty of the Romanian woman, dressed in the “ie” (the Romanian blouse), is still able to transport us back to those times – times of uncomplicated relationships, where falling in love was simple and beauty was unencumbered by the demands and expectations of the modern, industrialized and hi-tech society.
To celebrate the traditional, original beauty of the Romanian woman, we are presenting a collection of photos of the Romanian blouse, worn through the past century.
THREE VINTAGE PHOTOS OF WOMEN IN ROMANIAN IE
Romania’s own Queen Mary, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and Tzar Alexander the Great, who reigned between 1914 and 1927, wore Romanian traditional blouses all the time, making them a part of her identity as Queen of all Romanians. Her three daughters shared her love for the Romanian blouse, too.
Not too many people know that French painter, Henri Matisse, was one of the first to capture the beauty of the Romanian traditional blouse. His painting called “La Blouse Roumaine” is an oil-on-canvas dated 1940. It measures 92 × 73 cm and is displayed at the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris.
The painting is the outcome of six months’ work, according to Centre Pompidou.
THE SYMBOLS SEWN INTO THE ROMANIAN BLOUSE
The Romanian “ie” truly transcended millennia, carrying symbols that are a key part of the Romanian life in the countryside.
The symbols sewn into the blouse are profound, capturing elements that speak of the sun and stars, earth and flowers, the succession of seasons, the stages of human existence, and stages in the life of a people, of a nation. Some symbols capture the vitality of the Romanian dance, the “Hora”, which brings us, Romanians, together, through big distances, of geography and memory as well.
One of the most important cultural, literary and artistic Romanian publications, the “Flacara” magazine, which saw the light of print in 1911, continued to be published through the communist years. It had such a big impact on the cultural identity of the Romanians, that the Communist Regime didn’t forbid its publication until 1985.
Lucky enough to have one of the 1978 editions, we found a beautiful photo of a young woman dressed in the traditional “ie”, modeling traditional Romanian products for COOP, the Consumer Cooperative.
THE ROMANIAN BLOUSE IN 2020
Anda Ene, OZB Contributor and the founder of The Romanian Blouse Platform, has boldly taken on the mission of collecting and restoring old Romanian traditional costumes, for almost a decade now.
The website, www.romanian-blouse.com, presents a very precious collection made by popular artists from different ethnographic regions of Romania. The platform and Anda’s efforts contribute to the revival of the Romanian blouse. The blouses are sewn in complex patterns and ancient techniques, and artisans recreate old masterpieces, while using contemporary models.
Anda often takes the beautiful Romanian Blouse Collection internationally, giving Romanians from the diaspora, as well as admirers of the Romanian popular tradition, the opportunity to admire and purchase the beautiful blouses and outfits.
Her upcoming Exposition & Sale takes place in Brussels, on February 24th, on Dragobete Day.
We are now at the last generation of true artisans in România,” Ene says. “If we don’t realise the urgency or helping them pass their legacy on and do something to support the craftsmen and women, we will irremediably lose an important part of our cultural heritage and therefore an important part of ourselves.”
What is the best way to support Romanian artists of these trades?
“Let’s make artisans visible, appreciate their crafts, engage in a fair trade, wear and integrate their creations in our daily life,” Ene says. “And, in return, they will continue to do their work and pass down their art to the next generations, as our ancestors did.”