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November 30, 2022

June 24: The Universal Day of “Ia”, the Romanian Blouse marked in over 50 countries on six continents

Every year on June 24, the Day of the Romanian fairies Sânziene and of the Birth of Saint John the Baptist, the Universal Ia Day is also celebrated, honoring the most representative piece of the Romanian folk costume, which confers Romania a distinct cultural individuality.

At the beginning of 2013, the online community “La Blouse Roumaine,” founded by Andreea Tanasescu in 2012, proposed that June 24, the Midsummer’s Day, becomes a day dedicated to the “Ia” and be called Universal Ia Day. The first marking of this day took place on June 24, 2013.

This year, the event is marked in over 50 countries and 300 localities on six continents. The Universal Day of the Romanian Blouse has entered the annual programmes of museums and cultural institutions in the country and abroad, being marked both by the Romanian embassies and by the diplomatic missions in Romania.

The 7th edition takes place under the theme “#AcasalaOrigini – Photos for a Generation” designed to connect people – some far from home, but always connected to the ancestral land, with the aid of photography. For that end, the La Blouse Roumaine community extends an invitation to the creation of the largest online exhibition. Those who wish to participate will take a picture of themselves wearing an ie, a shirt or, preferably, the entire traditional Romanian folk costume, in front of their house, the building where they live, at the gate, in the garden, in a nearby park or wherever home is for them.


Universal Day of Ia, landmark of Romanian spirituality, marked by ICR abroad


The network of representatives of the Romanian Cultural Institute (ICR) abroad marks also this year’s Universal Day of Ia (Romanian Blouse), through a series of events presented online, on the Facebook pages of organizers and partners, the ICR informs.

* The Accademia di Romania in Rome proposes stories with Sanziene (good goddesses celebrated on 24 June), old music and Romanian identity in fashion design.

The program prepared to mark the 24th of June include the presentation of the story “Sanziene, my sisters” by Sanziana Popescu, in Romanian and Italian, in the reading of the author and translator Sara Salone, a recital performed by the Imago Mundi ensemble and the premiere presentation of the short film “Sanziene. Celebration and clothing”, by Iulia Goroneanu. The projects are organized by the Accademia di Romania in Rome, with the patronage of the Romanian Embassy in Italy and in collaboration with Creart – The Creation, Art and Tradition Center of Bucharest and the Cultural Association “Isvor” of Bucharest.


* Romanian Cultural Institute “Mihai Eminescu” from Chisinau awards for the most beautiful Romanian blouses in Bessarabia.


The ICR representative in Chisinau will award three prizes in a competition dedicated to the traditional Romanian blouses and shirts from Bessarabia, held between 24 June and 4 July, 2020, in partnership with the National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History of the Republic of Moldova. Three recent creations will be awarded, among those entered, selected by representatives of the House of the Folk Costume “Casa Cristea” and of the National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History in Chisinau.


* The Romanian Cultural Institute in London presents modern creations inspired by the folk traditional clothing.


This year, the programme will feature the premiere of a film explaining the constituent elements of the Romnaian blouse, made in partnership with the Romanian Peasant Museum, a live conversation with the fashion designer Adrian Oianu, whose collections are inspired by the folk costume, a presentation of Ioana Corduneanu, from the Association “Sewn Signs”, and in the evening, ICR London will host, online, the award ceremony of the winners of the contest “British capital of the Romanian Ia” , in the presence of the Romanian Ambassador to London, Dan Mihalache, and Andreea Tanasescu, founder of the community “La Blouse Roumaine”. The events are organized in partnership with the Romanian Peasant Museum and the Romanian Embassy in the UK.


* The Romanian Cultural Institute “Dimitrie Cantemir” in Istanbul highlights Romanian heritage on Ia Day.

The project “Universal Day of Ia, celebrated in Istanbul”, consisting of the presentation of objects of Romanian cultural heritage, will take place from 24 to 26 June. Photographs of the heritage elements (sleeve embroidered blouse, veil and ornament of beads, embellished buckles) will be distributed, made available by the Romanian Peasant Museum (MTR), accompanied by a short description in Turkish.


* The Romanian Cultural Institute in Lisbon presents the symbolism of the Romanian blouse, as an identity landmark.


A series of videos made exclusively for the Universal Day of Ia, by the Romanian Cultural Institute in Lisbon and the Romanian Embassy in the Portuguese Republic, in partnership with the National Village Museum “Dimitrie Gusti” of Bucharest, will include a presentation of the symbolism and ways of achieving it, supported by the director of the National Village Museum, Paula Popoiu, archival images, as well as an evocation of some of the most representative events dedicated to the Romanian folk costume in recent years in Portugal.


* The Romanian Cultural Institute in Madrid exhibits Romanian Ia, symbol of tradition and modernity.


The presentation of the exhibition “The ethnographic collection Marius Matei” is the project of the representation in Spain that marks the Universal Day of Ia on 24th of June. There will be presented 21 unique pieces of the private ethnographic collection “Marius Matei” (Giroc, Timis County), which highlight the exceptional fund of folk costumes from the southwestern Banat area: fashion ensembles and gold and silver ornaments worn by women on holidays, dating back to the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.


* The Romanian Cultural Institute in New York organizes a dialogue with the initiator of the movement “La Blouse Roumaine”.


Andreea Tanasescu, cultural entrepreneur, founder of the community “La Blouse Roumaine”, dedicated to the promotion in the world of Romanian Ia, will dialogue online, in English, with the director of ICR New York, Dorian Branea, on “Romanian culture as an online strategy”, in the series of conferences “Leon Feraru”.


* The Romanian Cultural Institute in Paris proposes jazz music inspired by Romanian folklore.


Pianist Ramona Horvath will perform on Wednesday at the invitation of the ICR representative in France to mark the Universal Day of Ia. The singer chose two pieces from her repertoire, Mahala and La Hora, jazz variations inspired by Romanian folklore. The project will put into value both the Romanian traditional clothes through the clothing choice of the piano player, and the Romanian traditional music, by reinterpreting it in a modern key.


* The Romanian Institute of Culture and Humanistic Research in Venice presents stories from the workshop of a weaver and photos of the Transylvanian costumes.


Elena Pascu, a weaver from the village of Malancrav, Sibiu County, will present the things she has in the works, highlighting the tailoring and decorative elements of the traditional women’s blouses in the Sibiu area, the Tarnave and the Brasov area, as well as other accessories specific to the traditional Romanian costumes in the center of the country. The short film brings to the attention of viewers practical aspects of the process of preparing the canvas that is about to become Ie. Also presented will be photos of the Romanian folk costumes of Transylvania – Maramures, Valea Muresului and Valea Gurghiului -, made by Roxana Mihaly, currently a “Nicolae Iorga” bursar, professional photographer. Promotional partner: Consulate General of Romania in Trieste.


* On the occasion of the Universal Day of Ia, the ICR representative in Poland will promote an exhibition dedicated to the traditional Romanian costumes, comprising 27 clothing artifacts from the collection of the Romanian Peasant Museum and is part of an exhibition brand Google Arts & Culture, We Wear Culture, dedicated to fashion and style. The pieces presented in the MNTR exhibition are accompanied by a soundtrack from the collection “Ethnophonie” of the National Museum of the Romanian Peasant: doina (Romanian folk lyric creation) and hora songs, twirls, and the dance called brana (a peasant dance to which players grab, behind their backs, with their hands to their neighbours’ arms).


* Also, the Romanian Cultural Institute in Tel Aviv promoted the campaign run by the community “La Blouse Roumaine” on the occasion of the Universal Day of Ia, launching to all Israelis with Romanian roots or Romanian lovers the invitation to participate in the creation of an online exhibition, and the Romanian Cultural Institute in Stockholm presented an episode of the series of online tours #calatorimdeacasa (wetravelfromhome), with the theme of Romanian traditional blouse, in partnership with Experience Transylvania.


“The story of the Romanian Blouse is a millennial one, having a very old history. The origin of this item cannot be determined exactly, instead the symbols arranged on it are found on the ceramic vessels of the Cucuteni, a culture ancient for six millennia. In the past, the blouse had more than an aesthetic significance, it was full of magical symbols designed to protect the bearer from evil spirits or charms”, says ethnographer Marius Matei, collaborator of ICR Madrid in the realization of this year’s project. Among the painters who reproduced the Ia in their works are Henri Matisse, Nicolae Tonitza, Camil Ressu or Ion Theodorescu-Sion. On the catwalks of fashion houses, the Romanian Blouse has inspired famous creators such as Yves Saint Laurent (who, in 1981, launched a collection inspired by the painting La blouse Roumaine), Jean-Paul Gaultier, Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera or Prada.


Almost 2,000 traditional women’s blouses and men’s shirts in the collections of the Golesti Museum


Almost 2,000 traditional Romanian men’s, women’s blouses from all parts of the country are included the collections of the Golesti Museum in Arges County, located about 10 kilometers from Pitesti.

According to the head of the Ethnography and Exhibitions Department, Daniela Busuioc, the collection of folk costumes is made up of over 12,500 pieces, of which 1,864 are women’s blouses and men’s shirts.

In the beginning, there were unique patterns in each ethnographic area that adorned the blouses known as ii, but over time there was interference, so sometimes a careful assessment is needed to locate them accurately.

“They were in [specific] areas, but with transhumance, with travelling, models were borrowed and sometimes they are quite difficult to distinguish. (…) In the southern area of Arges, for example, there is an interference with Teleorman County. On weekly fairs, transhumance, one more pattern would be stolen,” according to Busuioc.

In fact, the evolution is also explained in the work “The traditional folk costume from Arges County,” whose scientific coordinator is Daniela Busuioc.

“Folk costumes, like all the phenomena of tangible culture, are subject to evolution. Their close connection with social life determines continuous transformations, thereby matching the practical requirements and aesthetic taste of people at a certain historical moment. (…) An important thing about the relation between evolution and permanence is that of functional mutations. The costumes that were worn daily became an occasional, festive, ceremonial dress,” according to the book.

Daniela Ciochina is responsible for managing the over 12,000 pieces of folk costume. As a curator, she takes care of keeping all the textile objects in the museum’s collection in good condition.

“I have taken out the costumes, the donation documents, I compared them … it took me years,” confesses Ciochina.

The folk costumes are stored in a warehouse located in the basement of the administrative wing of the museum, under special conditions. The pieces are lined up on shelves up to four to five meters high, labelled and grouped according to the type and areas they come from.

The collection also includes pieces dating back to the second half of the 19th century. Some of them, including ii, belonged to the members of the Golescu family and were worn by them.

In 1866, such a blouse came to the possession of the one who would become King Carol I of Romania.

“Prince Carol, when he first arrived to these lands, on May 9, 1866 [the day before he was proclaimed ruler] was welcomed by the Golestis, and on May 10, when he left for Bucharest in a carriage with General Nicolae Golescu, Zinca Golescu gives him a traditional blouse as a gift,” says museographer Livia Caramizaru.

About half of the blouses and shirts in the museum’s collection are from the ethnographic areas of Arges and Muscel.

“Now, when we say ‘ie’ we mean the woman’s blouse, and when we say shirt we mean a man’s shirt. But before, when you said ‘ie’ you would clearly mean a woman’s long-hem blouse. (…) They are different, but also similar. Each one tells a story, each one is an emblem for the area, for the age they had, the status of the family, whether they were richer peasants or not,” says the museographer.

The designs on them and on other pieces of clothing had not only an aesthetic role, but also deeper meanings.

“In our area, of Arges and Muscel, in the mountain area that connects with Sibiu, we find that shirt with a cross pattern. What that meant was that the wearer was deified. It has precisely those three arms of the cross down. The woman, practically, would put a sign on her husband’s clothing to carry a blessing when the man would migrate with the livestock . (…) The Muscel skirt is full of all kinds of meanings, all kinds of symbols. The diamond reflects the sun’s motif that protects against evil spirits so that the future bride becomes a mother, just like the man’s belt, woven with those motifs, diamonds or small eyes. (…) The bigger, the wider the belt, the higher the man’s virility,” Caramizaru explains.

And the sequins sewn on ii, fixed by tiny beads, also have an apotropaic role, guarding the body from all kinds of evil forces. On the other hand, in the case of men’s shirts decorated with spirals made of metal wire, specific to the Muscel area, where Campulung, a former capital of Wallachia, is located, the Byzantine influence can be recognised.

However, there were other traditions related to elements of folk costume.

“If someone’s lineage would die, that is there was no more girl to marry, the skirt would simply stay in the house, in the family. It was also found on the walls of the house, that is, it not only had a ritual role, it also had a decorative part. It would stay there frozen with the last descent,” says Caramizaru.


The Golesti Museum was founded on June 7, 1939 by King Carol II as the Dinicu Golescu Museum and it has developed over the years with new basic exhibitions that reflect both the Golescu family’s history and the cultural history of the traditional Arges civilisation.


‘Top Sleeve Embroidery Folk Blouse – Ia’ file to be completed by March 2021 for submission to UNESCO


Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate’s Joint Standing Committee on liaison with UNESCO, deputy Ionel Palar, said on Wednesday that the ‘Top Sleeve Embroidery Folk Blouse – Ia’ file will be ready by March 2021 and will be submitted to UNESCO.

“The Chamber of Deputies and the Senate’s Joint Standing Committee on liaison with UNESCO has taken all the steps for the Romanian folk blouse ‘ia’ to be inducted to the World Heritage of Humanity. The initial deadline for the completion of the file ‘The Art of the Top Sleeve Embroidery Folk Blouse – Ia, a Cultural Identity Element in Romania and the Republic of Moldova’, that is slated for submission to UNESCO, was 2018. The deadline was however missed because of the long interruption of the activity of the Culture Ministry’s National Commission for Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage due to lack of funding. Me and the colleagues from the parliamentary Committee on liaison with UNESCO had several interventions to unblock the file, and today, June 24, 2020, I am glad that the experts of the National Commission for Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage have started field research and video shooting for the necessary documentation to UNESCO. The same steps are being taken in the Republic of Moldova for the global recognition of the history and tradition of the top sleeve embroidery folk blouse,” said Palar, according to Agerpres.

He pointed out that the file ‘The Art of the Top Sleeve Embroidery Folk Blouse – Ia, a Cultural Identity Element in Romania and the Republic of Moldova’ will be completed by March 2021, when it will be submitted to UNESCO.

“It is a common project that steers clear from all unnecessary vanity and disputes, because no one would forgive us if another ‘traditional blouse’ from the Balkans would make it to the UNESCO World Heritage before the ‘top sleeve embroidery blouse’. This cultural heritage is the merit of those who have passed down from generation to generation, with love and dedication, the art of making the Romanian ‘ia’. We have a moral obligation to carry this art further, to protect and promote this unique treasure worldwide,” he said.


Historical spaces of the Royal Palace in Bucharest reopened to the public on the Universal Ia Day


The historical spaces of the Royal Palace in Bucharest – the royal dining room, the Throne Hall and the Voivodes’ Staircase – reopened to the public on  Wednesday, on the Universal Ia Day, and will stay open for visitors until Sunday, between 11:00 and 17:00 hrs.

The moment of the reopening coincided with the Universal Day of the Romanian Blouse – Ia, that has been celebrated annually since 2013 on June 24, along with the feast of the Romanian fairies Sânziene and St. John the Baptist’s Midsummer Feast, thanks to the initiative and efforts of the NGO ‘La Blouse Roumaine’.

“Seeking to highlight the connection between the Royal Palace and the traditional garb, Romania’s National Museum of Art has invited Nottara Theater actresses Ioana Calota, Creguta Hariton, Daniela Minoiu and Mihaela Subtirica to do a special photo shoot in these historical spaces, dressed in hand-sewn Romanian folk blouses featuring very old models from various regions of the country, made available by the ‘La Blouse Roumaine’ Association through the ‘Bucharest Sewing Bee’. The photos were taken by Madalina Mihai Art Photography,” the Nottara Theater informs in a release.

The connections of the Romanian traditional women’s blouse with royalty are significant, the statement says.

“Both Queen Elisabeta and Queen Maria loved the Romanian traditional dress and adopted it in their outfits, including at high-rank meetings. The photos with Queen Maria in folk costume are famous, and the royal portraits on display in the room next to the Throne Hall include paintings of the two queens dressed this way. Another important connection is visible in the decoration of the palace, rebuilt by King Carol II and Queen Maria after the fire that destroyed the central body in 1926. Greater Romania was a young state at that time, in search of a national identity, and the folk dress was one of the unifying elements that was also used in the works of art that embellish the palace. Thus, the large-size paintings by Iosif Iser and Rudolf-Schweitzer Cumpana representing women and men in folk costumes sent the important Romanian or foreign guests attending the festivities in the royal dining room a subtle message,” states the Nottara Theater.

As they climb the imposing Voivodes’ Staircase, the visitors are welcomed at the top by Arthur Verona’s “Apotheosis”, the ceiling fresco that allegorically represents the Greater Union, with the people in the foreground as a recognition of their role in the construction of the Greater Romania. Other smaller works in the Royal Palace also discreetly convey messages about the importance of the grassroots, by including characters in traditional dress in their compositions.



Compiled from Agerpres

Photo: Facebook/Institutul Cultural Roman

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