*** Serb Serbian boys wear


Figure 1.--These Serbian gypsy immigrants arrived on Ellis Island to enter the United States in 1905. Notice the embroidery on the youngest boy's clothes and the caps the two boys wear. Source: National Park Service. Statue of Liberty National Monument.

Independent Serbia is a relatively new nation, but has an ancient heritage. The medieval Christan kingdom of Serbia was an important Balkans state, but was absorbed into the Ottoman Empire for sevdral centuries. Thus Serbia under Muslim rule like the Ottomans and Arabs did not experience major European developments (the Renaisance, Reformation, and Enligtenment) central to modern economic ajnd political development. Serbia reemerged as an independent country in the 19th century. Ottoman, Russian, and Austrian fashions have been important influences. It was Serbian terrorists that shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand, setting in motion the course of events that launched World War I. Serbia after World War I it became the largest constiuent part of Yugoslavia--a diverse country which suffered greatly in World War II. After the removal of Communist police state controls, Yugoslavia unraveled (1990s). This resultedin a seies of terrible wars. Serbia was left separated and largely estranged from the neighboring states which had composed Yugoslavia. We have acquired little information on Serbian fashions. Ottoman, Russian, and Austrian fashions have been important influences. Serbian was one of the many European countries where people emmigrated to America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


Serbia is a relatively new nation, but has an amcient heritage. The medieval Christan kingdom of Serbia was absorbed into the Ottoman Empire, bur reemerged as an independent country in the 19th century. Serbian resistance to Ottoman rule began to grow in the 18th century. The first major uprisings occurred in 1804 and 1815. The Ottoman Empire was declining and faced increasing resistance in the largely Christian Balkan provinces. Russian expamsion was another factor presuring the Ottomans as was a social system which could keep pace with the technical and indutrial advances flowing from the Industrial revolution in Europe. The Serbs launched both a national and social revolution gradually making Ottoman rule untenable. Only the differences among the great powers as to how to divide Ottomam territory allowed the Empire to survive. Serbia gradually emerged as a largely autonomous principality within the Ottoman Empire. Serbia was formed and granted international recognition under the terms of the Congress of Berlin (1878). Independent Serbia not only faced conflict with the Ottomans, but with the Austro-Hungarian Empire, another multi-ethnic empire. This intensified when Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia (1909), aprovince with many ethnic Serbs. It was Serbian terrorists that shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand, setting in motion the course of events that launched World War I. After World War I, Serbia became the largest constiuent part of Yugoslavia. Ethnic conflicts developed in the inter-War era. The NAZIs invaded and partitioned the country during World War II (1941). After the War, Yugoslavia became a Communist country, but not a Soviet puppet. After Tito's death, the country unraveled in the 1990s. Resulting in a seies of terrible wars and a Serbia separated and largely estranged from the neigboring countries which had composed Yugoslavia.


Serbia has an econmy in transition. It still is evolving from A Communist command economy, althoug reforms here begun earlier than the rest of Easterrn Europe. Agriculture has dominated the economy, but especially during the Communist era and effort to indidtrialize was promote. Unfortunately for Serbs, much of the Communist era projrcts were inefficent and uncompetive with the rest of Europen industry. Ahriculture is still impoetant with some one-third of the ppeople still farming. The main crops ar wheat, corn, sugar beets, sunflowers, hemp, and flax. Farming is limited by the country's mountenous terraine. The most important agricultural area is the plains of Vojvodina. Elsewhere there are major vineyards and orchads. It is an important European producer of fruit growing, especially plums. Manufacturing is now the mainstay of the economy. Serbia produces furniture, machinery, chemicals, tires, and clothing. Food processing is also important because of the country's agricultural productivity. Natural resources include oil and natural gas, coal, iron ore, copper, and zinc. The disolution of Yugoslavi and Serbia's efforts to prevent resulted in a series of distructive wars that adversely affected the economy (1990s). Serbia exports iron, steel, and other metals, clothing, wheat, and fruits and vegetables. The country's principal trading partners include the European Union (especially Germany, Italy, Hungary, Slovenia, and Austria) as well as former Yugoslavian partners (Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro).


We do not yet have enough information on Serbian images to build a chronology of fashion trends. We suspect that fashion trends in the medieval era were similar to Iataly and Byzantium, but our information is very limited. Conquest by the Ottomans introduced new fashion trends. The fact that most Serb remained Christain probably limited the Ottoman fashion impact, but certainly did not insulate the Serbs from Ottoman influences. We do not yet have information on fashion trends during this period. Some information becomes available in the 19th century as Serbia began to move toward first autonomy and then independence. The country because of the Ottoman influence was one of the most diverse country in Europe, in ethnic, reliogous, and cultural terms. The Ottoman Empire was much more tolerant of other religions than Christian Europe, although by tje 19th century was begoming increasingly less tolerant and increasingly affected by Turkish nationalism. This inevitably has an impact on fashion. Independent Serbia in the late 19th century was a largely agricultureal country and there were major differences between dress in the growing citoes and the countryside. We notice Serbian rural peasants wearing destictive traditional clothing while the country's at first small urban population eagerly adopting European fashions. We are not entirely sure which countries were the most impportant, but suspect that France and Austria were the primary influences. The fashion history of the 20th century is the spread of modern European styles into the countryside.


We have acquired little information on Serbian fashions. Ottoman, Russian, and Austrian fashions have been important influences. This of course varie over time, especially because until the mis-19th century, Serbiawas a province of the Ottoman Empire.


We do not yet have much information on the garments worn by Serbian boys. Serbian garments are a little different than those worn by boys in other European countries. This is largely because until the late 19th century, Serbia was ruled by the Ottomans. Thus there was a strongb Ottoman influence as was the case throughout the Balkans. After independence, Serbia moved to integrate with the rest of Christin Europe and clothing styles gradually became more Western. There was, however, a continuing Ottoman influence in rural areas and among the Muslims. We can not yet describe Sebian garments in detail because our archive of Serbian photographs is still very limited.


Boys wore a variety of different garments for different activities. This has included play, school, and special occassions such as church. In addition to dressing up to attend church services, boys might also serve as altar boys which required eclesiastical garments. Boys as adults used to dress more formally than is the case today. There have also been sports and youth group uniforms. Sports were very populr with boys. During the Communist years the children had to join the Young Pioneers. Boys involved on the fine arts might also have special outfits. In earlier periods boys had much more limited wardrobes because of income levels. Modern boys do not dress as formlly as was once common, but they tend to have much more elaborate uniforms than was once the case.


The population of Serbia is primarily ethnic Serbs. There are, however, many ethnic minorities in Serbia, in part because of the turbulent history of the Balkans. Important minority group include Albanians, Croats, Germans, Hungarian, Jewish, Macedonians, Romani (Gypseys), Romanian, Ruthenian, Serbian, and Slovak. Under Ottoman rule there was considerable mixing of peoples. Some of the minorities, such as the Germans, had rights to their own schools. We do not have much detail there. World War I had little impact on minorities, however, World War II did. The Jewish minority was desroyed in the World War II Holocaust. Large numbers of Gypseys were also killed along with many Serbs, primarly by the Fascist Croatian Ustachi. There is still a Gypsey population in the country. The NAZIs supported the Croatian puppet state. Albanians in Kosovo were recrited by the NAZIs and formed into SS units. After the War, Tito supressed nationalist violence. Fairly accurate date on minorities exosted during the post-War Communist era. Nationalist tensions surfaced again with Milosivich's efforts to contruct a Greater Serbia. The resulting wars associated with constiuent republics withdrawing from Yugoslavia had the affect of significantly reducing the minority population in Serbia and the Serbian population in the neighboring states. Data on minorities became politically charged as Yugoslavia descended in civil war and ethnic violence.


The main religion in Serbia and the religion of the vast majority of ethnic Serbs is Christian Orthodox. The Serbian Orthodox Church became autonomous (1219). The Church played a major role in the development of the Serbian national identity. This was especially true after the Ottoman conquest. Serbian nationalism to this day is intertwined with the Orthodox faith. Some of the minority groups in Serbia are also Orthodox, including the Romanians, Bulgarians and many Romani. Other religions include: Islam, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and others. Religion is often intertwined with ethnicity. Croats are mostly Roman Catholic and Kosovars are mostly Islamic.

Ethnic Costumes

We have little information on Serbian folk costumes. Styles seem to have evolved from medieval and Turkish styles. Almost no clothing has survived from the medievel era, and those that have survived are eclesiastical robes. Dubrovnik was the major Sebian center producing woven fabric. Ordinary Serbs wore clothes made from sclavina or schiavina which was a rather rough woollen fabric. Linen was also produced in medievel Serbia. Silk production was more limited, but was reported at the Dečani Monastery and around Prizren. This is also the case of folk costumes in other Balkan countries and of course reflects the centuries of Ottoman rule. While we have little information at this time, we will add additional information here as we acuire new images and added information. Folk costumes wee commonly worn in the 19th century. Even in the mid-20th century folk costiumes could still be seen, but mostly worn by women in fural areas. Fol costumes are no longer commonly worn. They are now special outfits worn for national holidays and other celebrations. This is most common in rural areas. There are regional variations, but the Jelek is an important garment in most folk costimes. The Jelek is a waistcoat orvest, commonly made of wool or velvet. Women's jackets might be lined with fur. Embroidery is an important part of Serb folk costumes. Embriodery is commonly found on aprons, socks and other garments. Bright red embroidery is common. This is said to reprsent blood lost at the Battle of Kosovo against the Turks. Another common garment is the Opanak, footwear said to have been worn in medieval times before the Ottoman conquest.


Serbia was one of the many European countries where people emmigrated to America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. We do not yet have much information about Serbian emigration. Deterioratinf economic conditions seems to have generated emigration of the southern Slavs (Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs). The largely afrarian society seems unable to support a rising population. Much of the emigration seems go have come from Austria-Hungary. Most of them were Serbs who emigrated from the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy. I am not sure that economic condition were much better in Serbia than in Austria-Hungary. This suggests that it was not only economic factors that drove emigration, but the political suppression of subject nationalities. Slovenes and Croats (especially after the annexation of Bosnia) lived within the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, but most Serbs lived in newly independent Serbia.


Serbia was a medieval Christian kingdom. Serbian art has been affected by important artistic movements. Serbian painting as was the case in much of mediebal Chriendom evolved as part of church architecture and the tradition of decoratingthe church walls built by novels and kings. This was common in the Balkans, but we see major Renaissance artists doing frescos in Italy as well. These church paintings evolved from Byzantine art that however originated from a Hellenic tradition. There was a great deal of wall painying in Rome even before Christianity. Serbia was conquered by the Ottoman Empire (14th century). This occured just as Western Europe was enteringthe the Renaissance. The Serbs were conquuered by the Ottomans after the battle of Kosovo Polje (1389). We know nothing about Serbia's art history during the Ottoman era. Serbian art has been influenced by both East and the West. We can't say that we see a destinctive character in Serbian art, but this isprobably because we know so little. One source writes, "Serbian painting was influenced by both sides and it turned into the art recognizable by its uniqueness and grandeur. This art was inseparably connected to history, culture and literature of Serbia in the Middle ages." The Great Serb Migration under Patriarch Arsenije III Čarnojević appears to have been the point when Serbs started be attracted to the West-European artistic culture and Baroque art. At the time Serbia was part of the Ottoman Empire. Serbia emerged from the Ottoman Empire (19th century). Serbian artists at this time were especially attracted to Romanticism. We see a wider artistic development in the 20th century with Serbian artists incvolved in Surrealism, Cubism, Expressionism and Neo-classicism. With the victory of the Communists during World War II, soc-realistic became the government sanction style, although Serbians and other Yugoslav artists had more leeway rgan in the Soviet Empire. We have found some paintings by Serbian artiss, but we do not yet know much about them.


We have little infotmation on Serbian photography yet. The first Serbian photographertake Daguerrotypes was Dimitrije Novakovic. Anastas Jovanović (1817–1899) from Belgrade is generally seen as the first Serbian phtofrapher (mid-19th century). This means he was the first Serbian to pursue photography as an art form and to capture historical events as they were happening. He studied and worked in Vienna before coming home to Belgrade. He was the author of the first photographic pantheon of the most significant events and people of his time. Other photographers may have taken worked in Belgrade, but there work was just portrait work. His work was immediately seen as imprtant by the Serbian Government. Exhibitions of his work wwere organized at a very early point (1850). We have not yet found Serbian Dags and ambros in general circulation. We also have found few CDVs. This suggests to us that Serbian photography was fairly limited until the 1870s and thus the cabint card became the standard rather than the CDV as in Western Europe. This seems the general pattern in the Balkans. We see quite a few cabinet cards that only read 'Cabinet Card' rather than the name of the studio and city. Sometimes 'Souvenir' is also used. We also see this in ither Balkan an Eastern European countries. We continue to see cabinet card portraits into the early-20th century, mostly the same basic style mounts common in the late-19th century.


We do not yet have many images of individual Serbian boys . We will load information here as we acquire it.


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Created: November 18, 2002
Last updated: 7:32 PM 10/14/2019