costume designer, researcher , Washington DC
„STADE ŠKRIPA ŽUTIJEH KAVADA”
”AND THE YELLOW KABADIA RUSTLED NO MORE”
Journal 7/2011 (Museum of Applied Art), pages 17-30
Abstract (original language):
Prilog usmerava pažnju na kavad, jedan od starih naziva za nošnju, pominjan u našim narodnim pesmama, čije je značenje vremenom izbledelo ili zaboravljeno. Proučavanje stranih i domaćih pisanih izvora omogućilo je identifikaciju ovog haljetka na srednjovekovnim freskama. Obrada likovne građe i sačuvan
Key words: (original language)
kavad, narodne pesme, portreti, srednjovekovni kostim, freske
Old Serbian epic and folk songs preserve many ancient words denoting clothing and its decoration which are of greatest value for understanding the dressing codes of the past. Many of these terms come from mediaeval written sources. We can also find diverse dressing forms in Serbian mediaeval iconography, the names for which have become obsolete with time.
According to written sources, kabadion is a front slit garment of the kaftan type. It is tight in the upper body and falls straight or in bell-shaped form from the waist down. The analysis of the source proves that this kind of garment existed independently in two societies. The Middle East, in particular Persia, preferred the front slit tube form, with its lower part occasionally bell-shaped and having long and tight sleeves. Caucasian people created a garment cut at the waist, with a bell-shaped lower part. However, the term kabadion or kaba is related only to the Persian-Arabic, Byzantine and Slavonic background.
Byzantium took over this garment during its frequent and close contacts with the Near East and central Asia. In the middle Byzantine period the garment became part of military equipment but was also used in the civilian dress code. Until the Palaiologos dynasty, the civilian kabadion would reach knee- or mid-calf length. By the end of the thirteenth century this garment had become official dress and when appropriately ornamented would indicate certain court titles. Its length would reach ankles. It seems that at the Constantinople court it was the Persian cut of the official kabadion which was worn.
Written sources show that the kavad was worn in Serbia already by the mid-thirteenth century. Judging by visual sources, the kavad appears as court garment during the reign of king Dragutin (1276-1282), worn by members of ruler's family. With the establishment of the empire under Dušan Nemanjić (1346), the kavad, similarly to the Byzantine ones, was introduced as official dress indicating certain titles existing in the Serbian court. In this role, it appears on portraits of Serbian nobility since the mid-fourteenth century. During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the cut of this garment changed somewhat. By the turn of the thirteenth century, kavads were of simple cut, both straight Persian and mildly bell-shaped Caucasian ones with long, tight sleeves. During the 1330s short sleeves of the upper garment uncovering long sleeves of the undergarment came into fashion, so the kavad got short sleeves too. By mid-fourteenth century both forms became flared from the waist down. The Caucasian form became emphasized by addition of insets. The Persian one was added side insets flaring at the hips. In the 1370s the sleeves of both forms of kavad were assorted with a long slit buttoned up with densely distributed decorative buttons. By the end of the century the buttons could be undone and later they were replaced by lacing. In the same period, the Persian kavad became full-length and bellshaped by division of the cut into vertical segments. Both changes were due to the need to make the garment more comfortable to wear. The changes might have been influenced by Italian fashion. By the end of the fourteenth century the Chinese type of collar was added to kavad, and by midfifteenth century, the garment was decorated with pointed, Turkish collars as were in use in the first half of the fifteenth century in Byzantium. Thus, for the first time a collar was used as a fashion detail in mediaeval Serbia. In the second half of the fifteenth century, shorter kavads appeared. Under Turkish influence, in the second half of the fifteenth century sleeves could be broad and short, thus resembling a Turkish anteri.
Fabric used for the kavad in Serbia was diverse, and the garment was worn by members of all walks of life. The beauty of the fabric, decoration and the cut were tokens of the owner's rank. Those made of fuller and heavier fabric and with ornaments were worn as outer dresses. During the fifteenth century, kavads made of lighter fabric would be worn under the heavier and broader outer garments. From the second half of the fifteenth century kabadion continued its life as the Turkish anteri, European military uniform and justaucorps of Louis XIV.
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