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Magnificent wedding costumes, mummers costumes and sheer lace from the islands at the Museum of History of Greek Costume

28 December 2011 / 21:12:07  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

Lace, embroidery, sleeveless jackets with golden embroidery, multi-coloured full-bottomed breeches, airy island headscarves and heavy pleated skirts from continental Greece - a unique time travel, but not by machine, but with the help of unique costumes from different parts of the country.

Some of them are part of the exhibition at the Museum of the History of Greek Costume organized on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Lyceum Club of Greek Women. The organization was founded in 1911 by one of the leading persons of the feminist movement in Greece Kalliroi Siganou-Parren. The Lyceum Club resisted the obsession of everything foreign in that era and started presenting the Greek tradition. The curator and designer of the exhibition Tanya Veliskou told GRReporter:

"The name of the exhibition is "100 years of a living art." The purpose was to display a small part of the collection of the Lyceum Club, which includes over 25,000 items." The exhibition is actually devoted to the history of the collection, to the Wardrobe of the Lyceum Club and to the parallel activities, mostly of the dancing groups and the tailoring shop.

The exhibition starts retrospectively. The first showcase presents to the visitors interesting copies of clothing from the Minoan era, the era of antiquity and the Byzantine Empire. A wedding dress from northern Greece in the form in which the Lyceum Club members danced in it during the first years of the Lyceum Club establishment and an "Amalia" type city costume named after the then queen supplement the short time travel.

"In our attempt to show the historical development of costume through the eyes of the Lyceum Club of Greek Women in its first presentations, we display photos of many events, especially from the Pan Athenian Kalimarmaro stadium. The collection itself was created in this way. The founder of the Lyceum Club of Greek Women Kalliroi Parren requested and managed to collect costumes from many parts of Greece to present them during the festivals at the stadium, and later - at other events at the Acropolis, Zapeion and other places."

The next showcase displays porcelain dolls dressed in traditional costumes from different places. The Greek Queen Olga gave the dolls to the Lyceum Club of Greek Women in 1914. "She brought the dolls from London in 1912-1913 and sent one male and one female figure to various parts of Greece in order for the people there to dress them with the clothes that they wore themselves." The collection of 23 porcelain dolls is considered particularly valuable for the small details, motives, embroidery decoration and for the patterns. They were used to create the first costumes in the workshop of the Lyceum Club of Greek Women. The exhibition presents male and female costumes from the islands of Lesbos, Kastelorizo, Lefkada and Sifnos and from Central Greece.

The walk continues among parts of costumes exhibited and the way in which they are stored in the museum premises. "They are protected by using different materials and this is only one side of their storage. The other one is presented in the opposite showcase. It presents the creation of genuine copies of authentic costumes at the shop with new and modern materials. The old costumes are hand-made by the people who wore them, while the copies are already sewn on a machine."

The next showcase presents fragments of different costumes - Karakachan underskirts and belts, shirts from central and northern Greece, costume jewelleries from the region of ​​Attica.

The last hall is devoted to the co-operation between the Wardrobe of the Lyceum Club of Greek Women and the dance troupes. "Here we present again selected costumes that were used during performances in recent times. The pictures show that most of them have been given to the Herodian Theatre. They represent not only the dance, but the turmoil behind the scenes before and after the performance." The costumes presented in this showcase are copies of the authentic ones because "the importance of wealth had already been recognized. That is why old costumes were preserved as relics, but their copies have been made to continue the tradition." Visitors can see the "perperuna" mask, i.e. green suit, in which a young girl was wrapped during the prayer ceremony for rain and a "Lazarina" costume from the region of western Macedonia, and mummers suit from the village of Nikisiani in Kavala.

"For an epilogue of the exhibition we chose a festive female costume from the island of Sifnos. The choice was symbolic because it was one of the first acquisitions of the Lyceum Club of Greek Women in 1914. Members of the dance troupe had worn it during performances in the country and abroad, and then replaced it with its copy. The audience equally applauded the authentic costume and its copy. The exhibition ends with it and with a number of souvenirs left by members of the dance troupe. Matchboxes with pictures of the porcelain dolls of Queen Olga and a series of postage stamps on the same topic are presented along with them."

One of the most interesting parts of the exhibition is in the lobby and its role is twofold – it is the preface and epilogue of the exhibition. "This is a symbolic staging of the Wardrobe in an imaginary setting. The two walls are canvases, which depict the objects in a dressing room: wardrobes, dressers and chairs. Only lines outline the items then to make you imagine the room, the exhibition, the past century and the efforts of the Lyceum Club of Greek Women to develop under the new conditions." Here visitors can enjoy and touch the copies of the elements of the costumes, and even put them on if they like.

Tags: Museum of the History of Greek CostumeExhibitionLyceum Club of Greek WomenPorcelain dollsPerformances
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