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Edition No. 17

Edition No. 17

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Edition No. 17

Edition No. 17

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Traditional Costume of Cyprus

Like the traditional women’s costume, men’s dress gradually developed as outside influences affected it. But, from the end of Frankish rule onwards, it steadily took on a specific style and, using the same fabrics, retained the look which lasted until 1974. In the same way, this Cypriot men’s style of dress became the accepted traditional folk costume, firmly linked to our folk tradition and our cultural events.

The men’s costume shows no significant variations from district to district. The basic element of the traditional dress was the ‘vraka’, made of three pieces of material or, for the most impressively large ones, as much as 18 metres. The fabric was cotton in black (for the elderly) and dark blue (for the younger men). Under this, white, cotton drawers approximately the same shape as the ‘vraka’ were worn so as to help it flare out. Over the ‘vraka’ in their everyday activities the men wore a short jacket (‘zimpouni’) made of striped cotton material with slit sleeves which buttoned up at the front. For a more formal (winter) appearance, a sleeveless waistcoat (‘kansourmas”) of the best striped material or blue velvet or red felt was worn. It was embroidered around the edges, on the back and on the pocket. The summer waistcoat (‘perikos’) was made from white woven material embroidered with coloured beads.

Beneath the ‘zimpouni’ a dark-coloured cotton shirt was worn for everyday use and a silk one for special occasions and as part of a bridegroom’s wedding outfit. This silk material was called ‘pourountzikkin.’ In some areas such as Mesaoria, under their shirt men wore a cotton vest in summer and a woollen one in winter. At the waist they tied a sash made of woven woollen dimity, black for the elderly and red for the younger men. On special occasions and even on their wedding day, young men would wear a silk sash known in Cypriot dialect as a ‘tarapoulouzi.’

The men wore a scarf wrapped around their head. The wedding headgear was brightly-coloured and decorated at the edges with a delicate style of lace.

The men’s outfit was completed by goatskin boots, known as ‘podines’ or ‘tsangaropodines’ with thick soles reinforced with nails as protection against snakes. In town, men wore such boots or shoes known as ‘scarpes.’

Note: Information from the study by the Cyprus Handicraft Service of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism.