You might wonder “why Romanian”, when you can find white shirts with more or less embroidery in all central and eastern Europe, from Belarus to Greece, from Finland to Lebanon. What makes it special, what is the differentiator?
Not necessarilly the cutting patterns, which are universally valid. It’s the composition, the embroidery and the story.
By composition we define the place where the embroidery motifs are placed, their dimensions and frequency. And we clearly read certain messages. We see fear and superstition in all those shirts which have the motifs aligned to the opening on the chest – they are protective talismans and this means people who created those shirts were afraid of divinities, trying to get their sympathy. We see fear of empty space (called “horror vacui” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horror_vacui ; or “kenophobia” https://www.fearof.net/fear-of-voids-or-empty-spaces-phobia-kenophobia/ – in shirts so full of embroidery with protective motifs that you barely see the white fabric underneath. We see shirts enriched with big bright colors in contrast, screaming for attention.
Romanian shirts keep a bit of everything, in a balance. The red thread is enough protection for the edges (wrists and around neck) and the cut on the chest. The dense embroidery is placed on the shoulders, to mark them therefore define the silhouette. The stripes of of embroidery go vertical, along the sleeves, to offer the impression of elongated members and slender figure. So basically the embroidery is the tool used by women not only to code information and communicate it, but to re-shape their body and make sure they make a memorable vision.
The embroidery is very delicate, in most times 1 square centimeter can carry 81 stitches. Insects, bees, stars, plants, wind, water – are all shown in abstract form, in their essence. They don’t reflect nature as it is, as we see it around us; they reflect the nature’s laws, which we must respect for we are part of nature, not above. Respecting these laws is the key and further on, each person is in charge of her / his destiny. A Romanian shirt is a metaphor we wear, is expression and inspiration; it is art painted with the needle.
February 23, 2021