Travel 2017 (T17): Marken, NL no. 1

Bright stripes and florals in a village that was an island

-This is the first in a series of posts sharing costumes, textiles, and culture from Holland and Ukraine from my June artist's residency and travels.  There's so much richness to explore and share!   Every time I pick up a book or look at a photo from the trip I discover another interesting visual element or tradition that could be a separate post on its own.  I hope that the images and information will ignite your curiosity and inspire further research or a new destination on your next trip.-

My first stop after arriving in Amsterdam in June was the new Dutch Costume Museum which has colorful and engaging displays of costumes from several of the most-known regions and towns, including beautiful pieces from Marken. Seeing the vibrant colors and combinations of striped and floral patterns at the museum, I added Marken, a town that was an island until relatively recently, to my itinerary.  

Costumes from Marken at the Klederdracht Museum in Amsterdam.

Costumes from Marken at the Klederdracht Museum in Amsterdam.

Characteristic wooden houses, a canal, and the town church in the background, Marken, NL. Photo: Harm Joris ten Napel

Characteristic wooden houses, a canal, and the town church in the background, Marken, NL. Photo: Harm Joris ten Napel

Marken was an island until a road was constructed connecting it to Waterland in 1957.  When children began leaving the island to attend high school and college in nearby towns and Amsterdam, the influence of the cosmopolitan city and contemporary life led to the infiltration of modern dress.  I was told that there is only one remaining woman who still dresses traditionally in Marken, population approximately 1,800, and she is 97 years old.

The women's costume layers a skirt with apron, shirt with striped sleeves, ribbons around the waist, and an embroidered corset seen peeking out beneath the red bauw, a rectangular piece of cotton fabric that attaches over the chest with straight sewing pins. The pins were an easy practical choice as women would wear different bauw for different occasions, appropriate for work, leisure, Sunday church, holidays, and the various stages of mourning. 

In the image below the back of the corset is visible with vertical lines of embroidery as well as hand-stitched ribbons attaching to the apron and over the corset.

Photo from the Zuiderzee Museum, Enkhuizen, NL.

Photo from the Zuiderzee Museum, Enkhuizen, NL.

Photo of framed boy's chest piece and a corset from a shop in Marken, NL.

Photo of framed boy's chest piece and a corset from a shop in Marken, NL.

It was such a surprise to discover the embroidered corset with bright pink, yellow, and blue chain and buttonhole stitches, wool felt and woven ribbon trim!

A vest was worn over the corset. If decorated it would have a design embroidered with circles and straight stitches as in the image below from the Marken Museum.

Embroidered vest in the Marken Museum.

Embroidered vest in the Marken Museum.

Both girls and boys would wear skirts until age 6.  A boy's costume always had a blue apron, often an Indonesian batik, and a chest piece with a particular red plaid and hand-stitched white cutwork.  Batik was acquired and traded by the Dutch East India Company (VOC), 1602 - 1800 whose first post was established in was is now Jakarta. Bright, floral, chintz fabrics also from the VOC were used for the bauw and children's shirts. 

Photo from the Zuiderzee Museum, Enkhuizen, NL.

Photo from the Zuiderzee Museum, Enkhuizen, NL.

More textile traditions from Marken to follow...