Just like William Blacker in his beautiful book ‘Along The Enchanted Way’ found, I have discovered for myself that there is immense practicality, not just gorgeousness to be found in traditional clothing. It keeps the warmth in and the cold out.
It has taken me a while to get round to taking a couple of pictures of this irresistible outfit that I bought on my last night in Budapest. I had gone to a csángó evening with Anna and within moments had been beguiled by the effects of being tenderly dressed by a rather good looking man who wound the skirt and belt respectfully around my (then) plump little waist and then delicately tied the scarf under my ‘rapt chin!! A bit of a struggle into the heavy waistcoat on account of my slightly sore shoulder and I was made up!
There has barely been a day when I haven’t worn the skirt or used it for extra bedcovers or as a bed jacket, and I love the jaunty scarf and simple beauty of the embroidery on the shirt, which is also so comfortable. Sadly, the combined weight makes it impractical for cycling very far, but I cannot part with the skirt. The rest I shall send home for safe keeping. Totnes will one day have a Bohemian vision!
A little about the dance. This consists of a wonderful rhythm, divided unevenly into groups of 5 and 3 so that steps appear to limp. The men energetically turn the women around them, breaking off occasionally to stamp and leap or slap their thighs/heels/knees….( surely to regain their balance and not just to show off their vigor?) Perhaps I have said this before, but I was so sea sick after only a few turns that I had to sit out for the remainder of the evening and watch! How on earth do they keep it up? The women for their part, with their gracefully spinning skirts seem to be utterly unmoved. I am reminded of whirling dervishes and the mesmerising effect of twirling. In this case, it is said to bring the man and the woman into a kind of intimate mutual love-trance.
You can imagine how thrilled I was to read of this in ‘the enchanted way’ and the anticipation is brewing now that I have seen on the map the village that ‘Uncle’ described to me when he reluctantly sold me his antique shirt in the crush of Budapest’s Christmas market. His parting, laughing comment was that I should stay there with his mother! Well, it’s only a couple of hundred miles from Bucharest, so why not?
What do you think? Headscarf or necktie?