Macedonian Costumes: A convention hit!
Over Labor Day Weekend the Macedonian Patriotic Organization of the United States and Canada held their 89th annual convention in Dearborn, Michigan. The MPO, founded in Fort Wayne in 1922, is the oldest Macedonian organization in the world and publisher of the oldest Macedonian newspaper in the world, the MACEDONIAN TRIBUNE.
Macedonians are a proud people: Proud of their accomplishments, proud of their history, and especially proud of their children. Located at 124 West Wayne Street, the upstairs floor houses the Macedonian Museum of artifacts, art work, an archive, library, and Macedonian costumes.
The costumes are interesting because they reflect a time and a place. Macedonia like the rest of the Balkan area was under Ottoman Empire for 500 years. After the first Balkan Wars 1912-13 the entire country disappeared as it was divided between Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia. Serbia became a part of Yugoslavia and it wasn’t until the fall of Communism in the early 1990s that Macedonia emerged as a country once again. The influence of others cultures can be found in their costumes.
The costumes in the museum are primarily wool or crepe. The wool is not surprising. Macedonia is 65% mountains. Weaving is done on narrow looms and then joined together to create larger pieces.
Eastern European/Balkan costume expert Marvin can tell a woman’s costume from one village to another by looking at such things as the apron design, the style of embroidery and where it is placed on the costume. Whether there is a vest or not and the type long and quilted opposed to white or black made of felted wool is indicative of a particular region. Jewelry worn on the head scarf is indicative of Miyak a cultural tribe located in Macedonia.
This summer Marvin visits the museum and designs a new costume exhibit. Three costumes now on display reflect costumes from the Republic of Macedonia- Skopje region, the southern region near Greece and the eastern border near Bulgaria.
Two of the costumes were carefully packed and shipped to the convention so attendees could see and learn about their costume heritage. Hotel visitors would stop and admire them too along with the other Macedonian displays.
As mentioned in the previous column, Friday, September 17 is the 4th Annual International Blast on Wayne Street taking place in the 100 block of West Wayne Street downtown Fort Wayne. Thanks to a grant from Arts United, Chris Bajmakovich will rock the block with Macedonian music from 6:30-7:30. The museum complex will be open so plan now to come down to check out the costumes, the music, oros (circle dances) and T-shirts!