Romania: beyond the story of a secret language

Ever since the beginning of times people have had the need to communicate and get close to one another. It lies in our nature to be social creatures and find ways to express our feelings and emotions. That is why from very ancient times people have created different ways of communication. That is how signs and symbols were born, some of which would later form the secret language of the Romanian traditional motifs.

For some people they are just random symbols sewed on a piece of cloth, but not for people in Romania. Every stitch is a coded message with deep meaning, telling the world the story of its creator.

What is mostly unknown about Romania is that its inhabitants are wearing their millenary history on their very clothes, symbols being carefully chosen, each of them carrying a certain meaning, message or story.

Left: Solar symbols. Virgil Vasilescu “The fire from the depths –Cucuteni Civilization” Right: Girl sewing, Neamt, the interwar period Source: La Blouse Romaine

Some of these symbols come from times long forgotten, the times of the first sedentary people of Europe, the first craftsmen and builders of settlements, the first ceramic artists (Cucuteni, Gumelnita Hamangia etc.).

The symbols inherited along the millennia talk about the sun and the stars, about Mother Earth and the blooming flowers, or about each step in the very existence of each individual, or of an entire community. Most of the symbols worn on the clothes depict Hora – a Romanian dance symbolizing fraternity –, moments of life and even the passing to the other realm, or how one should relate to the Heavens and Earth. Likewise, they depict the fascinating story of a nation and its land so interconnected to one another, that it can only show their consistency despite the challenges of times.

All the garments preserve a language of signs and symbols which are specific to the mythical thinking of the elder days, as it is said to depict the story of how the very world we live in came to be, and are a way of keeping in touch with the unseen creative forces of the cosmos.

It is said that words are the most powerful source of energy, and Romanians seemed to be knowing this very well. Whenever the peasant woman was sewing, all her soul was poured into her work as her hands obeyed her heart’s desire while enchanting a prayer to God: “Inspirit my clothes, the secret of my soul”. Elements and symbols of sacred geometry are used in order to generate and direct each of the energies said symbol represents.

Source for symbols: http://peasantartcraft.com/ Source for photo: http://www.folkwearsociety.com/knowledge/ethnographic-zones
Source for symbols: Peasant Art Craft
Source for photo: Folkwear Society

Ia or the Romanian Blouse – as it’s known around the world, is a piece of clothing that is built in such a way to generate and direct the energy each symbol represents, through the embroidery work on the chest and sleeves that channel the energy through the body, down to the arms and into the hands, making thus possible for the peasant woman to attach her soul to her work.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Revolutionary_Romania_by_C_D_Rosenthal.jpg
Source: Wikipedia

The Romanian Blouse has inspired so many people with its story’s richness that last year, on June 24 2015, Muriel Bowser, mayor of District of Colombia, USA has declared June 24 as the International Day of the Romanian Blouse.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/LaBlouseRoumaine10/photos/pb.286810884770586.-2207520000.1465327777./796615493790120/?type=3&theater

Now every year on June 24th, Universal Ie Day is celebrated, when the whole world commemorates that which is the beauty of the Romanian Blouse.

But its story doesn’t end here. Romanian specialists from the National Institute of Ethnography and Folklore are trying to convince UNESCO to introduce ia in its patrimony. For that, they have gathered thousands of Romanian blouses from over 800 villages, some of which are older than 200 years.

Meanwhile, on the Internet also circulates a petition to introduce ia in UNESCO’s patrimony. People here consider it their identity, a heritage that must be passed down from generation to generation, a culture of its own.

by Chatte Georgiana

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