*** Romania


Figure 1.--This Romanian boy, living living in Hungary, is pictured with his sister. The boy is wearing the basic long white shirt with trousers, a vest, and a fez. His sister also wearas a long shirt or chemise, but with an apron. The outfit seems to have a Turkish influence. Ehile we see images like this of the Romania peasantry, very few had the money needed to take studio portraits.

HBC has been able to collect little information yet on Romanian boys' clothing. Some information is available on traditional clothing. These traditional clothes were widely worn in Romania throughout the 19th century. A typical outfit was a long white jacket, wide callf-length pants, a black fez, and a red fez. The establish of an indepedent monarchy with a German dynasty presumably had an important impact on populsarizing Western clothing styles. We note fashionably dressed boys by the early 20th century, but think we might be looking at images from a small, affluent elite. Western European boys' clothing styles became more common after World War I. Romania appears to have been more influenced by the French or Austrian styles than other Balkan countries. Hopefully our Romanian readers will provide some information on boys' fashions in their country so we can can expand our coverage.


The Romanian nation has a fascinating history streaching back to ancient times. The medievel era is particularly interesting. Romanians played an important role in impeding the Ottomon movement beyond the Balkans. There are some striking characters in Romanian history, including Count Dracula and Nicolae Ceausescu. The Ottoman era resulted in the mixing of people throughout the Balkans. When new nations were formed in the 19th and early 20th century, there were as a result countless territorial disputes. Romania was thus caught up in disputes with neigboring countries. Romania fought with the Allies in World war I. It attempted to negotiate regional security arrangments. The country was, however, left isolated after the British and French abndoned Czechoslovakia at Munich. Hitler who was fixated on Romanian oil forced Romania to join the Axis and participated in the disaterous campaign against the Soviet Union in World War II. The Soviet Union had seizec large areas of the country and the Romanians were an important part of the German-dominated force that invaded the Soviet Union. The Soviets destroyed much of the Romanian Army at Stalongrad and in the Crimea. The Red Army seized the country at the end of World war II. It was forced to become a Soviet satellite. Stalinist secret policies arrested Romanians in large numbers, many of whom were executed. The disasterous Soviet-economic policies, especially those of Ceausescu drove Romania into national poverty from which now democratic Romania is just now beginning to recover.


Romania just as Europe was emerging from the medievil era was engulfed in the Ottoman Empire. This basically froze the ecomomy in time and th country did not paricipate in the Renaisance, Reformation, and Engligtenment and the economic trends affected by these movements. When Romanians gained independemnve from the Ottoman, the economy was backward dominated almost entirely by agriculture. Some development occurred in the 19th abd early 20th century, bit the ecoinmy was largely agrcultural as late as the two World wars. The Communist Government instlled by Stalin oversaw a massive industrialization effort. As in the Soviet Union and other countries in the Soviet Empire, the country's industry was highly inefficent and produced goods that were often worse less than the raw material inputs. Romania was poor even by Soviet ruled Balkan standards as a reult of the disaterous, corupt adminitration of the Ceauşescu era. After the fall of Communism (1989), Romanian entered the European Union (EU) with a developing economy (2007). It is the poorest EU country measured in terms of GDP per capita. Romania after Communism expeienced high growth rates, especially after entering the EU. Groiwth rates were much higher than the established EU countries. The country was hard hit by the world financial crisi (2009), but then returned to high growth rates. It has the 11th largest economy in the 28 member EU (2013). Bucharest is a regional financial and industrial centers.


Little information is available yet on Romanian boys' clothing. Some information is available on traditional clothing. These traditional clothes were widely worn in Romania throughout the 19th century. A typical outfit was a long white jacket, wide callf-length pants, a black fez, and a red fez. Western European boys' clothing styles became more common after World War I. Romania appears to have been more influenced by the French or Austrian styles than other Balkan countries.


We do not yet have very many images of Romanian children and thus can not begin to develop a chronology at this time. Our general impression is that many children in the country side wore what are now seen as folk or ethnic clothing with a Turkish influence. Romanian for many years was dominated by the Ottoman Empire. Hopefully Romanian readers will tell us more here. After the establishment of an independent monarchy in the late 19th century we begin to see more Europen styles, espdecially in affluent urban families. The gew images we see seem to have a French, Austrian, or German and roughly follow the same chronological trends as boys in neighboring countries. The important of the German econonomy probably influenced clothing trends and thus may hazve had the greatest influence, at least until World War II. Hopefully we can expznd our Romanian archive so we can better understand Romanian chronological trends.

Romanian Royalty

The Romanian monarchy was a 19th century creation introducing a German family. The Romanian nation, however, has a fascinating history streaching back to ancient times. The medievel era is particularly interesting. Romanians played an important role in impeding the Ottomon movement beyond the Balkans. The Romanian royal family had some influence on fashion, but primarily in the towns and cities.


One interesting aspect of assessing boys clothing is looking at the various clothes boys wore while participating in various activities. We have greadually acquired some information on the activities Romanian boys pursue. For most of history boys after the todler stage were involved in some kind of work, often learming the occupation of their fathers. Most Romanian boys as the country was largely agricultural were incolved in farm work. Only in fairly recent time did play and school become more important. We do not know much about play and games in Romania. Toys look similar to that of other European countrieds. Romanian schools seen influenced by the German school system. Sports became important in the 20th century. Here urbanization was a factor. We also noticed the formation of some youth groups, including the Scouts, nationalist groups, and young pioneers. This has been strongly influenced by the country's chsnging political regime. Religion is another important factor. This is a more complicated subject thn in msny other European countries. We do not yet know of any European choirs, Music seems to have been important in many families. We have noticed some Romanian music prodigies.


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 often we just view boys' clothing in contex with what the rest of the family was wearng. The family section is 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. Much of the photographic evidence here is very stiff formal portraits. This provides important evidence as to the formal clothes worn by Romanian families. The photographic technolgy of the 19th century limit the ability to take candid portrits of family life. This of course changes with the introduction od amateur photograophy and the snapshot at the turn of the 20th century. Our Romanian archive is still very limited so we do not yet have many Romanian family images. Periodical publications provide some images of family life, although almost always comfortable middle class families.


We have only limited information on Romanian boys garments at this time. We have nio information on the medieval era. The Ottomons becane a force in the Balkans (14th century, but took some time to extend their control north to Romania (16th century). Thus Ottoman styles affected fashion, including peasant dress. The Russians helped liberate Romania from Ottoman control (19th century). Is it as this time that Western styles were introduced. Romanian was given a German monarchy which affected clothing tyles, including boys clothing. Gradually we see European styles apparing in Bucarest and the major cities. As a result, we see typical European styles in cities by the 20th century, especially after World War I. It would be difficult to identify Romanian children by the clithing worn, except for the rural children wearing peasant styles. Peasant styles persisted in the country side which over time began seen as folk styles. Romania was aklargely agricultural country, thus styles in the country side were of some impotance. We see these peasant or folk styles as late as World War II, bur rapidky disappeared after the War. After the War the Soviet Union oversaw the estabklishment of a People Republic meaning Romania becanme a Stalinist police state anhd aat of the Siviet Empire. Thus Rissia becanme a fashion influence rather than Germany. A major factor was Communist economic failure which affected the ability of Romaniand to dress well. This changed with the fallm iof Communism (1989). Romaniabns today dress in the stand pan-European styles common throughout the Continent, although low income levels continue to affect fashion.


Romania until after World War II was a country split between a modern urban population and a peasant rural pipulation. This was the case throughout the Balkans where unlike much of Western Europe was not highly industrialized. There wre a range of reasons for this. Much of the region languished for several centuries unfer backward Ottoman control. Other areas of the region were under Austrian vontrol which did not promote industrislization. The region was also largely untouched by the Reformation. Also the Balkans were outside the major trade routes which helped to make modern Europe. Other factors were involved. For what ever reason the split in Romanian society could be seen in fashion. Girls in yhe contry side still wore peasnt dress which was becoming a kind of folk costume. In the cities girls might wear fashionable dresses and other outfits depending on social class meaning the family finances. We do not notice any spcific Romanian styles, but basic European styles. German fashions seem inflential reflecting the importance of the German fashion industry.

Folk Costumes

Romanian folk costumes or folk clothing has remained unchanged for centuries. We are not yet sure about the origins and the time line here. Thereseem to be some similarities with peasant styles throufgout the Balkans. Some of the outfits seem to show a Turkish influence, but we are not yet sure how the Ottoman era affected folk costumes. The basic garment for both men and women is a shirt or chemise cut similarly. It is traditionally made from hemp, linen, or a woollen fabric. It is only in the 19th century that inexpensive coitton fabrics become available. The basic shirt or chemise was secured around the waist with a destinctive fabric belt. The basic shirt/chemise did vary in length. Women wore the garment long at ankle-lengths. Men tended to wear short lengths ahd with pants or leggings fashioned from fabric strips. Women wear an apron over their chemise to protect the garment below the waistline. These aprons vary somewhat. Im nuch of Romania this apron was a simple cloth worn at the front of the skirt with a waist band. In Transylvania and the southwest it is common to wear two of these aprons with one protecting the back of the chemise. As is common with folk costumes, there were no destinctive garments for children. A HBC has noted that one element of folk costume in Romania and the Balkans were strap shoes or sandals. We are not sure when this footwear first appeared. We can not yet establish any connection with the strap shoes and sandals that became popular for children in Western Europe and America durong the early 20th century.

Hair Styles

We do not yet have much information on Romanian hair styles. Our initial assessment is that there were many similarities with Germany. This seems to be the case throughout Central and Eastern Europe. The same is true of clothing styles. We are not entirely sure why, but the pull of the German cultural and economic system before World War II seems to be the key factor. And of course Romania had a German monarchy. Also we need to consider that the Austrian and subsequent Austro-Hungarian Empire helped to promote Germann culture uncluding fashions in the area. We notice a lot of boys with closely cropped hair in the 19th and early 20th century. This may be another German influence. There may also be public health considerations. Cropped hair seems to have continued longer in rural than urban areas. Ringlet curls do not seem to have been common for younger boys, but we do notice boys with Dutch boy bangs, at least city boys in comfortable circumstances. We note alot of girls wearirg hair bows. This is, however, a topic that needs a lot of work before we can make any basic assessments.

Ethnic Minorities

We have very limited information on ethnic groups in Romania, but there are several imprtant ethnic minorities that have p;ayed an imrtant role in Romania. There are minorities from neigboring Bulgaria and Hungary. This is especially the case because there were so many territorial changes in the 19th and 20th centuries. Tranyslvania was populated with both Hungrians and Romanians. As a result, control of rhe the province was contested between the two neigboring countries. There was also a population of Volk Deutsche, We note two groups, the Banter Schwaben and the Saxons of Transylvania. Although the Germans are much reduced from the period before World War II, there is still a small group remaining in Romania. A HBC reader has provided us an assessment of his 2005 trip to assess Transylvanian ethnic trends. Romania had a substantial Jewish minority dating back to Roman times. There was a Jewish minority, although they were largely destoyed during the Holocaust. There is also a substantial Gypsey or Roma population. The modern term for gypsey is Roma, a derivation showing the Romanian origins of many European gypsies. There is also a Greek minority in Romania for an incredible 27 centuries. The Greeks were a seafaring people and entered the Black Sea where they established coatal trading colonies. This was at a time when the modern Romanian ethnic population, the Dacians, was just beginning to form.

Geographic Regions

Romania has nine historical regions and/or four provinces. Each of the regions have a long, fascinated histories. The topic of Romanian regions is complicated because there have been so many boundary changes over time. Modern Romanian is a relatively new country created in the mid -19th century as Christians in the Balkans aided by Russia and Austria beat back the Ottoman Empire. There were Chistrian kingdoms in the medieval era, but these were more provinical powers than a modern kingdom. The hstoric provinces and the heart of the country were Transylvania, and Walachia. There is also a substantial mixture of populations and thus some of the Romanian proivinces were claimed and fought over by neigboring states. In addition Russia (at times the Soviet Union) has claimed or occupied areas of the country. At the current period, Moldolca which wa seixed by the Sovit Union during WWorld War II is an independent country, although it has a large Romanian population. Some of the regions associated with modern Romania are: Banat, Bucovina, Crisana, Dobrogea, Maramures, Moldova, Transylvania, and Walachia. Transykvania is the largest and best known region of Romania and because of the large Hungarian population was claimed by Hungary. Hitler assigned it to Hungary during World War II, in part to punish Romania which had sided with the allies during World War I and to prevent a potential Hungarian invasiin hich would have destabilized the region . Stalin after signing an alliance with Hitler seized Buckovina and Moldova (1940). Hitler awarded Dobrogea to Bulgaria during World War II. The modern bounfaries as was the case throughout Eastern Europe were established by Stalin After World War II. They aee now accepted by the neigboring states, although the future of Moldavia is an ongoing question.


HBC does not yet have in any information on Romanian movies or other theatricals.

Unexplained Images

Photography is a wonderful tool in understanding people around the world. It helps to illustrate a wide range of cultural, economic, political, and socilal developments which HBC is attempting to study. In the process of amassing an archive of images for this project, we come across some images that we do not understand or fully understand. This is especially true for countries like Romania for which we have opnly limited information and no personal experiences. Here we will load images from Romania that we do not understand or we believe requires some elaboration. Hopefully our Romanian readers will help us understand these images.


We have been unable to find information on the history of photography in Romania. We do note that many of the 19th century photographic studios were operated by Germans. This suggests that photograophy was essentially intoduced to Romania and dominated by Germans living in the country. This presumavly included both Romanian citizens and resident aliens. Romaniam of course had a German monarchy and a substantial ethnic German minority.


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Created: March 20, 2000
Last updated: 11:02 AM 12/22/2017