Women’s Clothing from Zemgale

Brief information

  • Shirts – straight cut, mid-calf length with white embroidery and a turnover collar;
  • Skirts – pleated full skirts, striped or with woven vertical pattern bands;
  • Belts – patterned woven belts;
  • Jackets – plain, close-fitting dark jackets;
  • Shawls – white wool with narrow bands of interwoven patterns or multi-coloured shawls;
  • Headdresses – both married and unmarried woman can wear a scarf as shown in the picture;
  • Legwear – knee-length knitted patterned socks or knitted socks with embroidery;
  • Jewellery – the shawl was fastened with a large silver bubble brooch (burbuļsakta), while the shirt was fastened with one or more small silver annular brooches (saktas).  A necklace of spherical silver beads was also an option.

History and Origin

Zemgale is located in Southern Latvia.  It was once populated by the ancient Zemgalians who settled around the Lielupe River and its tributaries. In the nineteenth century, Zemgale consisted of the districts of Bauska and Jelgava, part of Eastern Tukums and the Rīga parishes on the left bank of the Daugava, which are now part of Vidzeme, even though economically and culturally they had closer ties with Zemgale. Because there are relatively few surviving articles of clothing from here, this area is not subdivided further. Even so, differences can be observed between the eastern and western areas. Traditional clothing here was shaped by the area’s affluence, well-developed agricultural, manufacturing, and trade sectors.