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As emphasized by the authors of elaboration “Handicraft and rural industry” during research conducted just after the 2nd World War, only women were mentioned in villages. Woollen yarn was used to produce both uniform fabrics in natural colours of sheep wool: white, black or grey from old sheep fleece. From combination of light and dark young sheep mousy colour was obtained. They also produced white-black-mousy stripes for shepherds’ bags
and checked fabrics for the so-called derki. They were used as covers and blankets for winter. All fabrics were made in a simple, i.e. linen weave. The woollen fabrics prepared by knopki were passed to fullers, where they were fulled, woollen fabrics milling. In comparison to other regions in Podhale there were a lot of processing plants. They were mills, sawmills, distilleries, dye-works, oil mills, shingle-works and fullers.
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The cloth was a basic material for production of many items of male clothing, which may prove the significance of the pastoral tradition in shaping it. It is confirmed by the oldest known historic documents and images of highlanders of the 18th c. They show that the old outfit of inhabitants of Podhale had a lot of common features with the outfit of other Carpathian groups, mainly those living in regions situated south from the Tatras.
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In the old times the basic male outer coat was the so-called cucha previously called gunia. Its form was similar to a homespun coat, i.e. a kind of overcoat with long sleeves. The available resources show that even until the mid 19th century the knee-length gunias made of dark cloth were dominant among highlanders. Besides them, also shorter ones made of light cloth ones were worn.
You can read about many other traditional garments worn and made in the Tatra mountains in the report linked at the top of this post, and you might also be interested in the book that Stanisława Trebunia-Staszel has written on the subject: Śladami podhalańskiej mody – which loosely translates as ‘In the Footsteps of Tatra fashion’.
Stanisława Trebunia-Staszel PhD works at the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology at the Jagiellonian University and her research interests include Polish folk culture and its connections to the Carpathian regions. She is especially interested in contemporary processes of the creation and renewal of local and regional communities and has published many articles on this topic for ethnographic and popular science journals.
Many thanks to Justyna Lorkowska, Anna Bednaříková and Jo Kelly for assistance with translating those beautiful old Polish couplets: the Internet can be a wonderful place.