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The project "LDK Gediminas-era Vilnius costumes"

Daiva Steponavičienė with souvenir dolls

in 2022
VšĮ VITA ANTIQUA implemented the project "Vilnius costumes of LDK Gediminas times". The aim of the project is to restore two (male and female) 14th century festive costumes (perform artistic reconstruction of costumes) and their reduced analogies in the form of souvenir dolls, based on Vilnius city archaeological material, and to acquaint the public with the clothing of the medieval inhabitants of Lithuania, in 2023, as Vilnius celebrates the 700th anniversary of the founding of the capital.

During the project, two (male and female) 14th-century artistic reconstruction of costumes, based on the archaeological material of the Vilnius city of that period, a lecture prepared about the 14th century clothing of the people of Vilnius and its reconstruction, reduced models were made - souvenir dolls, dressed in the 14th century Vilnius' clothes.
Archaeological material is the only source for reconstructing the clothing of the inhabitants of the medieval capital: we have neither iconography nor written documentation related to the fashions of the inhabitants of Lithuania at that time. Archaeological material shows that in the XIII-XIV centuries. the silhouette of clothes began to change, new fabrics (silk, brocade), jewelry (earrings, brooches of previously unseen shapes, rings with precious stones), accessories (belt bags) appeared thanks to trade, some previously loved jewelry (bracelets, necklaces) disappeared or greatly decreased), brooches were gradually replaced by buttons. The reconstructed costumes of the medieval Vilnius people enable the public to look at the restoration period itself through fashion, to see a brighter 14th century view of Vilnius.

The reconstruction of the costumes was carried out based on the material of archaeological (burial) monuments examined in the Old Town of Vilnius (Bokšto St.) and in Verkiai, supplementing it with the 14th-century remains of the Lower Castle of Vilnius copies of artifacts from the period, as well as analogies of findings from the first capital of the LDK - Kernavė - and other medieval monuments of Lithuania.

The woman's costume consists of a headpiece, embroidered with pearls, beaded earmuffs, a silk cloak, a woven silk-wool dress, knitted woolen stockings, leather embroidered shoes, a necklace of glass beads, cuff bracelets, a pair of rings, a knife in a forged brass case.

A man's costume consists of a felt hat, linen underwear, a woolen-silk jacket, woolen trousers, a woolen cloak with a horseshoe brooch, a belt with brass fittings, a belt bag, leather boots, and a signet ring.

Until now, more attention has been paid to court fashions and the research and reconstruction of the costume of the nobility, while not enough attention has been paid to the costumes of the townspeople. This new reconstruction of the costumes of Vilnius residents provides data on the performance of the LDK of the urban layer. The reconstruction was carried out by the archeological and historical costume reconstructor Dr. Daiva Steponavičienė. Among them (in addition to prehistoric Baltic costumes), several medieval and Renaissance noblemen's costumes, preserved in the Lithuanian National Cultural Center, Kaišiadorių Museum, have been restored.

The reconstruction of costumes reflects not only the 14th century. the peculiarities of the costumes of the people of Vilnius, but also the craftsmanship of past craftsmen, as well as modern masters (textile makers, jewelers, leather workers, cobblers), who performed the restoration of costume parts.

Along with the reconstruction of historical costumes, their reduced analogues were made in the form of souvenir dolls. This is one of the forms of dissemination of the cultural heritage of the city of Vilnius, because collectors of souvenir dolls spread all over the world are always looking for new exhibits. In addition, it is a great gift for honorable citizens of the city and distinguished guests.

The project partner is Vilnius Old Town Renewal Agency
The main sponsor of the project is Vilnius City Municipality

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