In August 2019, Florina Cismaru decided to make a traditional Romanian blouse, as her ancestors did. We followed her throughout her discoveries, her joys and challenges (First episode, Second episode). And today here is the magnificent result!
Interview by Claire de Pourtalès
Delicate wrist band © Florina Cismaru
The finished blouse © Florina Cismaru
How do you feel wearing this blouse?
It is very different from what I wear every day: it gives me a personality. Plus, I love the feel of the hemp fabric on my skin – it smells like cut grass! I wear it with jeans or a skirt. Normally the blouse is part of a traditional outfit, as we have seen in previous articles. But I want to wear it as a modern item for now.
Now I can’t wait to create another one! I have in mind a blouse from the same region but with a very different composition (patterns, techniques, cut). It’s also a blouse in the shape of a T-shirt, a tunic that bears the name of cămeșoi. I started to do some tests (see last photo).
Members of the Semne Cusute Association reacted very positively – one person even said that the blouse looked very old!
Florina’s sister wearing the blouse © Florina Cismaru
How did you work on the assembling?
I kept the traditional cut, since my blouse was based on a reproduction. But I adapted it to my body type. I also changed the fit of the sleeves and the neckline a bit. Finally, I added a red thread, a symbol of protection, around the neck.
What did this work bring you in relation to your origins?
I began to understand better the value of the work of my ancestors. I felt like I was creating something special which gave me kind of a connection with them, like a circle that never ends. A Romanian historian said that the expression of folk art, in addition to its beauty, is in fact the only art capable of giving us real information about our origins. These are the oldest connections between civilizations, whether spatial or temporal. I think that he is right.
The collar © Florina Cismaru
The sleeves pattern © Florina Cismaru
What have you learned from the research on patterns?
I realized that semiotics is a very broad subject. I don’t claim to know much, but I can recognize some ancient symbols and signs that I have seen in the books.
For example, deer antlers is a very ancient symbol that can be found everywhere and not just on fabrics. It means strength, power, energy. He also has an apotropaic (“warding off bad luck”) mission. It is found in many other cultures. “The Rhombus (a shape whose 4 sides are equal) is the symbol of fertility, fertile soil. The angles symbolize the richness of life. This symbol is found everywhere in the prehistoric world. He united all the sacred signs. » Semnele Pământului, Virgil Vasilescu. It is very common to combine deer antlers and rhombus (often in the form of a diamond).
It’s very interesting how the patterns all make sense. Nothing is left to chance.
In Romania, we also very often find the S placed horizontally, the hook, the shepherd’s staff. But these are all symbols known in other cultures. For example, the Gauls and Romans decorated their homes with it to protect themselves from lightning.
Thank you Florina for sharing all these discoveries with us!
Florina: “I would finally like to thank Alina Panaite, a truly extraordinary person; the Sewing Signs association (Semne Cusute) without which all this would have been only a dream. I also thank the managers of the Gabriel Boriceanu ethnographic collection: they are an admirable team that I respect a lot.“
Try-outs for the next blouse © Florina Cismaru
The content of this site is free and is not damaged by un-welcomed publicity. I do this work with love and passion but it requires a lot of time. I would like to continue to offer a wider market to our artists, to show how embroidery is a wonderful art. But I do need a little bit of help. If you feel like it, you can participate with a little donation to help me continue. I will be so grateful! Thank you! Claire