SLOVAKIA, a country of 5.5 million inhabitants, lies in the heart of Eastern Europe as a part of the European Union. This rather small country is rich and diverse in folklore traditions and folk clothing. Each of the 25 ethnographical regions have their own unique and colorful folk costumes. To this day, they play an important role in people’s daily lives, festivities, and important occasions. Each unique style of folk costume identifies their owner’s specific village, valley or geographical area. There are roughly 800 different types and their variations are well documented, however ethnographers believe that many more different folk costumes exist in Slovakia.
The development of traditional folk clothing was significantly influenced by geographical and climatic conditions, as well as the available textile manufacturing techniques and material resources. The basic materials of costumes are flax, hemp, cloth, canvas, leather or fur. The decorations are inspired by nature, including plants, flowers, animals, and stars among others. Different techniques of knitting and embroidering are used (for example, curved embroidery) to add exceptional variability and beauty. The colors and material used indicate the purpose, occasion, and to whom the folk costume was designated.
The current style of folk costumes has been developing for the last two centuries. At the beginning of the 20th century, folk clothes were gradually disappearing and being replaced by more modern fashion and working clothes. The mid 20th century saw a gradual reappearance of folk costume and folklore traditions, and many folklore ensembles were created in this period. The folklore traditions of Slovak ancestors continue to be displayed and celebrated at regional festivals and fairs to this day.
The goal of this exhibition is to promote the national heritage and folklore treasures of folk costumes through the photographs of Peter Brenkus and fragments of poetry of famous Slovak poet Milan Rufus.
PETER BRENKUS is a Slovak photographer specializing in taking photographs of folk costumes, dancers, and musicians. He was the official photographer for two Slovak presidents (Kovac and Schuster). His photos appear in the book entitled “Milan Rufus, Peter Brenkus, Poetry in folk costumes, folk costumes in poetry”.
MILAN RUFUS (1928 – 2009) was a Slovak poet, essayist, translator, children's writer and academic who is considered the most translated Slovak poet into other languages. Three of his short poems are presented along with the photographs of folk costumes.
Rúfus, M., Cooper DL., Richter M., Osers E., Sokol K.: And That's the Truth. Wauconda, Ill: Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, 2006. ISBN 9780865165090, 145 pp.
Rúfus, M.: Niest Bremeno a Spievat, To Bear the Burden and Sing, Martin, Matica Slovenská 2008, ISBN 9788070908938, 181 pp.
Benusková Z., Kucbelová J., Brenkus P.: Kroje Slovenska (Folk Costumes of Slovakia, Costumes populaires de la Slovaquie, Slowakische Trachten), Ikar 2019, ISBN 9788055166698, 168 pp.