Research into Folk Dress in the Czech Lands: From Topography to European Ethnology
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The text presents the development of the research into folk dress worn by the inhabitants of the Czech lands, beginning with the works by topographers focussing on a thorough description of particular countries and provinces of the Austrian monarchy and their inhabitants, to the development of an academic platform. This was preceded by the Czechoslavic Ethnographic Exhibition in Prague (1895) and the associated efforts to present festive and ceremonial clothing worn by rural residents. For the Exhibition, exhibits were searched for in the field, which were described and photo-documented. Many articles were published in special journals; these were supposed to support the collection of materials for an ethnographic encyclopaedia. The publication of monographs on particular ethnographic regions in the post-war period was a certain intermediate stage – folk dress was described in separate chapters of these monographs. The afore-mentioned efforts was crowned by the first volume of the publication Lidové kroje v Československu [Folk Costumes in Czechoslovakia], issued by Drahomíra Stránská in 1949. In terms of methodology, the publication became an inspiration for a generation of female research fellows who based on its spirit their struggle to assess the historical development of folk dress in particular regions. Marxist ethnography brought up new research theme in the 1950s – the interest in the life of the working classes and inhabitants in industrial areas. Later-on, the research got rid of political indoctrination, and the new methodological basis made it possible to focus not only on the historical dimension, but also on the social and cultural role of clothing in the history of the 19th and 20th centuries.
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