A kilt like costume was worn mainly in the central and southern regions of Greece. The costume derives its namefrom the pleated white skirt (foustanela) made of many triangular shaped pieces of cloth sewn together diagonally. The foustanela was worn by the Greek fighters of the 1821 revolution and today it serves as the official uniform of the Evzones, Greece’s Presidential Guard, who can be seen guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens. The foustanela skirt consists of 400 pleats symbolizing the years during which Greece was under Ottoman rule. The remainder of the costume is composed of a white shirt with very wide flowing sleeves, an embroidered woolen vest, a sash worn around the waist, and shoes (tsarouhia) with large pompons.
After the liberation of Greece in the first quarter of the 19th century, all male costumes in the Peloponnese took the form of the foustanela. Extremely popular, this costume is now one of the world's most well-known traditional garment. - white cotton shirt - foustanela (white cotton pleated skirt) - boudouri (white underpants) - long knitted white leggings/stokings, secured by gonatoures (garters) tied below the knee - embroidered coat fesi/fez (cap) - tsarouchia (shoes) with pompons.
The costume called Foustanela, established by Otto, the first King of Greece, as the formal courtdress in the middle of the 19th century, prevailed in the urban centers of Moreas (Peloponnese)and Roumeli (Central Greece). This dress was originally the military outfit of the Greek chieftains. The costume was soon modified by the men for holidays and other festive occasions. The outfitthat is shown here has two jackets, the inner waist coat, the yileki, and a second sleeved shortjacket, the fenneli, with the sleeves falling freely over the back. The material that was used for this version is wool. The embroidery is made of spun wool and the belt is of a fine leather work. The Foustanela has changed in the meaning of detailed work, the length of the fousta, and,sometimes, the number of jackets worn. The sleeves have become decorative, resembling wingswithout the function of sleeves. After all the changes, it has become the standard Pan-Hellenic male costume used to the modern times.
We notice many Greek parents outfitting boys in the foustanela for family studio pptaits. We do not have a large enough 19th century archive to know how common it was in the 19th century. We see quite a few 20th century images. We are not sure about the early-20th century. Quite a few of the portraits we have found are from the inter-War era (1920s-30s). We are not sure yet if that reflects actual prevalence or just more portraits for some reason are available. the white shirt with flouncy sleeves, small jacket, and white kilt seems to be a constant. The white long stockings seem more of an option. This seems to have been more of a nationalist statement than a commomly worn garment. They seem to be urban boys from families in comfotable circumstances and not rural boys where traditional clothing was still worn to some extent. We see fewer of these portraits after World War II. Unlike the outfits worn by women and girls there do not seem to be substantial regional differences with the foustanela outfits.
Most Greeks wore Western clothing in the 20th century. We still see some traditional clothing in the countryside before World War II. We sill see some traditional clothing worn for festivals and special occassions. There are two types of traditional clothing for men: on the mainland men wear a
foustanela (skirt), while a type of baggy trousers called a vraka is worn on the Aegean Islandsa nd Crete. The traditional Grecian costumes are the male's "foustanela" and the female's "amalia." They arebeautifully handmade embellished with detailed needlework. The costumes consist of white blouses, vests, skirts, and even special shoes.
A kilt like costume was worn mainly in the central and southern regions of Greece. The costume derives its name from the pleated white skirt (foustanela) made of many triangular shaped pieces of cloth sewn together diagonally. The foustanela was worn by the Greek fighters of the 1821 revolution and today it serves as the official uniform of the Evzones, Greece’s Presidential Guard, who can be seen guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens. The foustanela skirt consists of 400 pleats symbolizing the years during which Greece was under Ottoman rule. The remainder of the costume is composed of a white shirt with very wide flowing sleeves, an embroidered woolen vest, a sash worn around the waist, and shoes (tsarouhia) with large pompons.
I was around eight or nine years old when I wore the Evzones costume or foustanela at our Greek Independence day celebration. It amounted to a short white pleated kilt. I wore white cotton tights with it. I wasn't too keen about the idea. However, there were a good number of boys my age and older also in the Evzone kilts, so I went along with it. Anyway my mother would have insisted on it even if I had objected. This was the only time I wore an Evzone costume. There were many boys and young adults wearing this costume. The young men were tall andmasculine and in the Greek traditions were fighters. Just like theScots, you didn't want to mess with them. I had to to give a poem aboutthe days when the Greeks were subjugated by the Turks of the OttomanEmpire. It was about the light of the mopn showing me the path to go toGreek school. Apparently, the Turks prohibited the schooling of childrenin Greek and their culture. The schooling was done in the evening andGreece is very mountainous and the pathways were not a paved road. I canremember the first verse, in literal translation it said: "Oh moon ohmoon, show me the pathway to school". I had to say this on a stage infront of several hundred in the auditorium. Actually that was what I was most concerned about. I was more worried about forgetting my poem which I had to say in Greek. Also, I was thinking about that big audience.
There were Greek dances,both ring and couples. The best part the celebration was the food anddeserts after the program. There were some great cooks, or better yetmaster chefs that knew their trade. That I always can remember.The only displeasure I had about wearing the foustanela was when weparked the car and had to walk about a block to the auditorium; however,I saw other older boys and young men walking in the same direction, so Iwas in good company.
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