*** Hungary


Hungarian smocks
Figure 1.--These children from a 1969 Hungarian film illustrate Hungarian boys' clothing. The youngest boy wears suspender shorts. Another boy wears a front-buttoning smock. The other boy wears a colored shirt with long pants.

HBC at this time has very limited infornation on Hugarian boys' clothing. It has been limited by the small number of Hunarian photigraophs that we habe been able to find and archive. Hungary is a small country with a nit very successful economy , bith fctors limiting the photogrophic record on which HBC is largely based. The economy has been limited by both the persistence of fedul ntrends ad then a half century of Communisnm. Hopefully Hungarian readers will assisst us in describing Hungarian styles and fashion trends. HBC at this this has insufficient information to asess chronological trends in Hungarian boys' wear. Hungarian boys wore the standard garmnts worn by other European boys. Hungary until after World War II was a largely agrarian country and we believe folk styles were still widely worn in the country side. Hungarian boys did not wear school uniforms. Some schools appeared to have required smocks in the 1960s. As a Communist Government was in power, this may have been a nationally mandated style, but HBC has only limited information at this time on school smocks.

Historical Backgound

The Hungarian nation is defined by the Carpatheian Basin. The history of Hungary more than any other European country is associated ethnically with central Asian nomadic tribes and these nomadic tribes have been attracted by the rich grasslands of the Carpatheian Basin. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Carpatheian Basin wasa center for both the Huns and Avars. The ancient history of Hungary has had almost no impact on modern Hungary because of the arrival of the Maygayars who conquered the Carpethian Basin (700 AD). The language with all its cultural connotations is unrelated to any other important European language, only Finland and Estonia. The Magyars were another fierce raiding people, but were brought in to the European mainstream by King Stwphen. Sandwiched between the Slavonic peoples to the east and the Germanic peoples to the west, this accomodation with Christian Europe was a major factor in Hungary's survival as a destinct nation. Hungary is almost unique in Europe. It is a small counbtry in central Europe that has survived for nearly a 1,000 years-despite repeated defeat in war and failed revolutions. The survival of Hungary over that period is a matter of considerable histotrical interst. One historian suggests that it was Hungary's capacity to assimilate individuals from neighboring countries. Prominent Hungarians are of Croat, German, lovak, Serb, and Romanian origins. In addition, Hungarians have immigrated t other countries, especially in the 20th cenury and played a major role in atomic physics, compuers, and Hollywood among other areas. [Lendval] The country was devestated by the Mongols. Much of the nobility was wiped out by the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Moh�cs (1526). Even so, the Hungarians played a major in prevebnting Ottoman pemetration deeper into Europe. The Hungarian crown passed to the Hapsburgs. Hungary was thus for enturies associated with the Haosburgs and Austria. The country emerged from Workd War as an independent nation for the first time in 400 years, but a mich reduced side. The inte-war era saw the rise of Fascism and association with Germany in World War II. Defeat in the War led to the imposition of a Stalinist Communist dictatorship. The Hungarian Revolution (1956) opened the eyes of many Western Europeans as to the true nature of Soviet Communism.


Modern Hungary was within the brders of the Roman Empire. It was the province of Pannonia and the remains of Roman roads and building exist. The Carpathenian Basin subsequently became a center for both the Huns and Avars. The conquest by the Magayars meant that this early history had almost no impact on modern Hungary. Ecoonomics is even more affected by geograpohy than history. In Roman times, Pannonia ws primarily an agricultural land. Rich pasture land attracted the Avars, Huns, and eventually after the fallpf Rome the Magyars. Mounted Magyar raiders would terroirize central Europe until subdued by Otto I. Hungary after being defeated by the Ottoman Turks was absorbed into the Austrian Empire (16th century). Hungary remained a largely agricultural area. Much of the economy was based on large landed estates owned by nobels. Hungary emerged from the Feudal era later than the countries of Western Europe. The Austrians, unlike the Germans, did not strongly promote industrial development. Much of the industry of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was in the Czech lands, primarily because several notable Czech businessmen promoted indusyry. Although industry was not absent from Hungary, the same level of industrial development did not occur. After World War II, the Communists under the aegis of the Red Army seized control of Hungary (1945). The Communists launched on a massive program of industrialization. To the shock of the Communists, the economy did not grow like the economies of Western Europe. Not ony were the state-owned industries not profitable and able to pay good wages, but because of state policie, shortages developed for agricultural products. The economomic problens were only partly due to Communist inefficencies. The Soviet Union exploited all of its Eastern European subject peoples. This would prove to be a factor in the Hungarian Revolution which was brutally supressed by the Red Army (1956). After the repression that followed, more liberal outlook took hold in Hungary and an economy which came to be called Goulash Communism. There were notable improvements, but Hungarian industry was not competitive outside the COMECON barter system. This was the situation when Communism fell (1989).


HBC at this this has insufficient information to asess chronological trends in Hungarian boys' wear. Hungary was an independent country dring the medievel era, but we have no fashion information at this time. Hungary became part of the Hapsburg Austrian Empire (16th century). And thus until 1918 was heavily influenced by Austrian fashions. We have had a hard time followung this because our work is primarily based on the photographic record. And Hungry is a relstively small country meaning our archive is relatively limited. We know very liyyle about the 19th century. A rare view are two Hungarian boys playing with a hoop about 1850. We know nuch more about the 20th century. With independence after World War I, German fashions seem of some importance. Of course Austrian/German fashions were related. The photograophic record we have begun to access does show Hungarian children strongly affected by German fashions and hair styling trends. After 1945 Hungary became a Communist People's Republic with the economy tied into the Soviet-dominated Eastern European block. We have little information, but believe East German (DDR) fashions seems to have been an important fashion influence. The photographic record suggests a strong German influence. The Soviets seized control of Hungary after World War II (1945). This did not entirely break the German influence as the Soviets incorporated eastern Germany in their Eastern European empire. The Soviets and Communism did affect consumerism of all kinds, including the fashion industry, deemphasizing fashion of all kinds. Hungary by the 1960s was more open to the West than most other Soviet satellites and thus Western fashions were also of some importance.


Hungarian boys wore the standard garmnts worn by other European boys. HBC has only limited information on garments worn by Hungarian boys and have only begun to collect information on specific garments. Hungary is a relatively small country which is a factor in our small archive from which to work. From what we do see, there is strong German influence. This comes from a long association with Austria and the very substantial German fashion industry. Younger boys for many years wore dresses. We are unsure how common smocks were, but we do know that school children commonly wore them, especially after World War II. Sailor suits as in most European countries were a popular style for an extended period. We see many boys wearing sailor caps even nwhen not wearing sailor suits. Short pants as in much of Europe were commonly worn by Hungarian boys through the 1950s. They declined in popularity in the 1960s, but some boys still wore them. Boys wearing shortened--length pants commonly wore long stockings and then aftr World War I, knee socks were popular. We see both white and colored knee socks. Hungary boys wore sandals, although HBC at this time has very limited information.



Here we will follow family fashions over time. HBC has decided to also gather information on entire families. One of the limitations of HBC is that too oftn we just view boys' clothing in contex with what the rest of the family was wearng. This will help to compare boys' clothing with that worn by mothers, fathers, and sisters. These images will help show show differences in both age and gender appropriate clothing.


We do not know of any styles that were espoecially popular in Hungary. We see styles that look similar imilsar to German styles. Hungarian children's clothes were strongly influenced by Germany. For the most part we see styles thqt were worn in many other countries. Here our assessment is limited by our rather limited Hungarian achive. We are just not sure how popular major styles like Fauntleroy and sailor suits along with Norfolk abd Eton styling were in Hungary. We think Russian blouse garments were popular. We believe this was basically similar to Germasny because of the centuries-long Austrian connection until after World War I. The only really distinctive Hungarian styles were Folk Costume. Hungary was a small county and until after World War II, a largely agrarian country. We believe folk styles were still widely worn in the country side, especially before World War I. Hungary until 1918 was governened by Austrians. There was a constitutional change in 1867 when a dual monarch was established for the Empire. We are not sure at this time how this affected folk fashion. We have, however, few real details. We do note that there was not one Hungarian national folk costume. Rather there was a wide variety of folk costumes. We also note enbroidery work and not just on folk cotumes.


Hungary like the other Balkan countries has many ethnic minorities. The population since the Ottomon destruction of the Hungarian Kingdom (16th cdbntury) has been part of first the Ottoman and than the Austrian Empires. This facilitayed the movemnent anbd mixtures of ethnic groups. They are mostly ethnic groups from neighboring countries (German, Romanian, and Slovak). Likewise ethnic Hungrians live in those countries. Hungary until the NAZI World war II Holocaust had a vibrant Jewish community. The country is also know for its coloful Gypsey community. The NAZIs also killed large numbers of gypsies.


We have only limited information on the boys clothing associated with various activities in Hungary. School is of course the major activity. Hungarian boys did not wear school uniforms. Some schools, however, appeared to have required smocks in the 1960s. As a Communist Government was in power, this may have been a nationally mandated style, but HBC has only limited information at this time on school smocks. One activity is religion which has played an important role in Hungarian history. Hungary is a Catholic country. We notice children doing First Communion. Concerning religion we only have one wedding image. We have no information on Hungarian choirs at this time or on Hungarian dance. Of course a major, but informal activity is play. We get some idea of this in 19th century studio portraits because of the use of props. With the 20th century and the family snapshot we can see imagoes of actual play much more about toys. Unfortunately because Hungary is such a small country, our Hungarian archive is still very limited here. Hungarian boys like most European boys did not have bikes and trikes. This was an economic matter, they were just to expensive for most people. And Communist control after World War II meant that Hungary did not share in the economic miracles of Western Europe. But we do see scooters. Likewise we do not yet have any information on sport in Hungary. Hungarian Scouts were organized in the years before World War I, but the movement grew considerably after independence. There may have been a right-wing nationalist group that competed with Scouting in the World War II years. After the War the Communist Government prohibited Scouting and boys had to join the Young Pioneers. Scouting has been revived in the 1990s with the return to democratic government. Hungary during the Communist years had a Young Pioneer movement, but we have no details at this time.

Hungarian Art

We know very little about Hungarian art. We do not know if we have somehow missed important Hungarian artists or if there are fewer Hungarian artists than many other European countries. A factor may be that Hungary is a relatively small country, but still it is a little surprising. The earliest paintings are works decorating medival churches. We first see paintings in Hungary associated with the ruling royal houses -- Luxemburg and Anjou. They depicted highly respecte earlier king Ladislaus I. King Sigismund of Luxemburg, King of Hungary and Holy Roman Emperor and Louis The Great, King of Hungary and Poland were buried in the cathedral of Nagyv�rad at the side of King Ladislaus. These images decorated the Romanesque village churches. Frescoes especially on the north wall. Some 50 of these beautiful churches with murals depicting the Saint Ladislaus have survived wars, Islam, and Communism. The conquest by the Ottomans and control by the Hapsburds may be factors in the failure of Hungary to keep pase with other european artictic traditions. It is a little difficult defining nationality within the Austrian and subsequent Austro-Hungarian Empire. We have some limited information on individul Hungarian artists. Hopefully our readers will be able to provide some information on Hungarian art. WE only begin to see Hungarian artists in the 19thcentry. Here are the Hungarian artists we have found to date.

Catalogs and Advertisements

We have very little catalog information on children's clothing from Hungary. We have found one 1870s fashion plate. At the time, Hungary was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Thus German fashions were a major fashion influence. The fashion plate is from an unknown Hungarian publication. Notice the pink for a girl and blue for a boy. We are not sure, however, that was an actual convention because we have only this one example. Hopefully, Hungarian readers will provide some information on catalogs and advertisements in their country.


HBC knows of a few Hungariam movies which have provided some information. HBC believes that films made in Hungary and other Eastern European countries often were low-buget affairs. Films with contemporay settings often did not have elaborate costumes, but rather had the boys, espdecially if they were not main characters wear their own clothes--thus providing a useful glimpse of contemprary styles.


Lendval, Paul. The Hungarians: A Thousand Years of Victory in Defeat (Princeton University Press).


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Created: January 21, 2001
Last updated: 7:45 PM 5/29/2024