- Museum number
A woman's apron, a 'podia'. Squarish in shape (wider at the bottom than the top) with ground made from two types of black material. Main ground made from tabby (?) wool cloth, fulled, and embellished with cross stitch embroidery and applied ribbon. A vertical line of solar motifs (top smaller than other three) form central spine around which diamond-shaped infilling (including hook motifs on outside) is worked; cream, red, green and black cotton yarns used. Embroidery framed with woven gold- and silver-coloured rick rack and wide brocaded metal and silk (?) ribbons. Two strips of black wool braiding, commercially make (joined together by ply-split darning?) sewn around each edge. Five areas of joining stitch worked in gold-coloured thread wrapped around a cream silk core. A short black (goat's wool?) tabby tie, each with metal hook at end, stitched to each corner to secure apron to another garment.
- Production date
Length: 36 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- For information about the technique of ply split darning see: Hail, Barbara A (1985), 'Female costume of the Sarakatsani', Bristol, Rhode Island, Brown University, Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology.
'The apron was the most significant item of the women's clothing. Aprons sent messages of age and status: brighter for the young and unmarried, sombre for the mother. There were even special ones to say you were feeling lonely, or to mark some public dishonour (black and no sequins) or to wear when moving from one pasture to another. A girl had to make twenty five to thirty for her dowry, to cover every eventuality ...' (From: Sheila Paine (2003), The Linen Goddess: 152). For a short description of the Sarakatsan see Paine 2003: 151 - 153. See also, S. Paine, 'Amulets', London 2004, p. 37, where this apron is illustrated as protection for the body.
For a more detailed description of the life of the Sarakatsan see Fermor, Patrick Leigh 1958, ' Mani : travels in the southern Peloponnese', chapter 2.
Ribbon applied to apron described by vendor in sale catalogue as 'fretzes'.
Compare with Eu1971,03.12; Eu1993,07.19 and 2008,8009.2.
Hail also notes the following: ‘Podia’: an apron of black wool with added decorations. It is worn over the ‘fustani’ and under the ‘zoni’. This garment often incorporates the sign of the cross. At the time of her marriage, each Sarakatsani woman will have embroidered 25 or 30 ‘podies’ [plural of ‘podia’], on which childhood, youth, marriage, birth, misfortune, dishonour, death and the like are symbolized. ‘Podia’ designs appear to be pre-Christian and, although the Sarakatsani now adhere to Greek Orthodox Christianity, vestiges of their earlier animistic beliefs are often reflected in their decorative arts. Although the dominant symbol today is the cross, which both ‘protects and beautifies’, stylised flowers, trees and branches are also used to ward off evil and to signify such events as the spring ritual of moving the sheep to the summer grazing areas.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2011-2012, 6 Oct-19 Feb, London, The British Museum, Grayson Perry: The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman
2011 21 Jan-11 Sep, London, British Museum, Room 2, Traditional Jewellery and Dress from the Balkans
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Acquired by Sheila Paine in 2000: 'bought Thessaloniki from a small dealer by the Arch of Galerius, who was the only person who had Sarakatsani material, and even then very little.' [source: Dreweatts sale catalogue: 7]
Purchased by the Museum at Dreweatts Auction House on 22nd April 2008.
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 2 (Lot number: 355746-71)