Sheepskin jackets, coats and cloaks

Coats, cloaks and waistcoats made from animal skin have been worn either with fleece outside or skin outside since earliest times over much of Europe and beyond. These garments developed a regional identity both in cut and decoration from around 18th Century.

Cloaks – sarică or bitușca

Domnești, Argeș

Shepherds cloaks (sarică or bitușca) are worn by shepherds in the Southern Carpathians. These are made of three or four sheepskins and are worn fleece outside in Romania. Sarice can be calf or ankle length and are either sleeveless or have long sleeves, which are left free and are used by the shepherd as pillow when sleeping outside.

These can also be made of woollen material with long tufts of wool. This type is worn around Făgăraş. Similar sheepskin cloaks were found in Hungary but were usually worn fleece inside with the outside being decorated with embroidery and appliqué leather.

Coats – cojoc (pl. cojoace)

Monor, Bistrița

Cojoc is a sleeved sheepskin coat and pieptar is a sleeveless waistcoat. These are worn throughout Romania by men and women. Sheepskin is readily available and larger cojoci are made of fleecy sheepskin. They are usually worn with fur on inside and are decorated according to local fashions with embroidery, appliquéd leather strips, tassels, buttons or small pieces of metal or mirrors.
Cojoace can be either straight cut or flared, each ethnographical region having its own characteristic style. Flared cojoace have gussets inserted to make them wider. Cojoace can be long, 3/4 length, or short and cut onto the waist.

Jackets – pieptar (pl. pieptare)

Pieptar waistcoat

Pieptar is a sleeveless waistcoat, usually shorter than cojoace, being either waist or hip length depending on region. An exception to this is the Bucovinan pieptar cu poale worn by women, which is hip length, with a flared “skirt”. The smaller pieptari can be made of lambskin. Pieptare are either înfundat (closed with opening at side) or crăpat (split in front), whereas cojoace always have a front opening.

Centres of production

Leather dressing was originally done in households but as production became more specialised it was transferred into artisans’ workshops and was organised into specialist craft guilds. Centres of Cojocari were based in:

Region Places
Oltenia Dăbuleni, Horezu (Vâlcea)
Muntenia Plosca
Moldavia Ghizdăoani, Vama, Târgu-Neamț, Rădăuți
Transylvania Bistrița, Năsăud, Abrud, Viștea, Beiuș, Făget, Sighet, Lapuș, Drăgus (Brașov)


Vișeu, Maramureș

The extent of the decoration on sheepskin coats and jackets depends on the purpose of the garment. Cojoace and pieptare made for work wear generally have little decoration, whereas a cojoc or pieptar for festive wear is often completely covered with embroidery and appliqué and takes around 8 days to decorate. Regional styles of decoration were the same for both cojoc and pieptar.

Originally thin coloured leather strips “meșină” were used for edging, these were later appliquéd in floral motifs (possibly originating from Hungarian influence), later wool, coloured cloth and silk stain stitch embroidery was worked onto strips of soft leather, which were applied to the garment. This type of appliqué was also used on felted coats (szurs) in Hungary and west Romania in 19th century. Metal accessories such as eyelets, studs and small pieces of mirror were also used. The use of these may possibly have originated with the Huților.

Region Summary
Lugoj Women – waist length pieptar decorated with leather appliquéd and embroidery.
Făget Hip length pieptar with red decoration.
North west Banat Coloured leather appliqué and mirrors embedded in leather.
Bihor Waist length sheepskin pieptar decorated in green and red.
Maramureș, Oaș
Lapuș Brown pieptar edged with black fur and decorated with red and green embroidery, or red embroidery and small pieces of coloured leather appliqué.
Maramureș, Iza Valley Sheepskin pieptar is richly decorated with embroidery and leather appliqué.
Maramureș Mara valley Small mirrors are inserted into the embroidery on sheepskin pieptar.
Maramureș Vișeu valley Sheepskin pieptar edged with fur with appliqué leather decoration and woollen embroidery in floral patterns.
Țara Oașului Hip length man’s brown leather pieptar decorated with pressed patterns and small pink, blue and green woollen embroidered motifs.
North Transylvania
Călățele (Kalotaszeg) Pieptar are decorated with solid brown woollen embroidery, and eyelets. Hungarian, white pieptar covered totally in mostly red embroidery.
Năsăud Men wear waist length pieptar covered with brightly coloured woollen tassels.
Women wear flared pieptar covered with brown and black velvet and edged with fur, and decorated with floral embroidery.
Valea Șieutului Bistrița-Năsăud and Valea Mureșului Superior Cojoc decorated with black or red floral motifs.
Men wear hip length pieptar covered with brightly coloured woollen tassels.
Csik In winter men wear fur waistcoats decorated with leather appliqué instead of embroidery.  The fur waistcoat has cloth sleeves.
South Transylvania
Alba Women wear waist length pieptar edged with black velvet and a band of red leather, and decorated with isolated motifs of red and green embroidery.
Sibiu and Brașov Men’s and women’s Pieptar and cojoc are usually decorated mostly with black embroidery with touches of red or blue and can have the opening at the side or at the front. Romanians have borrowed Saxon cojoc cut and decoration.
Sibiu Bitușcă, long sheepskin cloak with very long sleeves. In wet weather this is worn inside out to let water trickle down. Can be decorated in red & black.
Făgăraș Women – Short sheepskin pieptar decorated in red and black (young girls), or black (married women). Older version has side opening.
Men – Pieptar side opening, decoration in red with black.
Bran Cojoac – sheepskin coat cut like modern jacket decorated in red & black
Sălaj Pieptar are made of brown leather
Pădureni Sleeveless sheepskin waistcoat called ‘cojoc‘ richly decorated with red, green and blue coloured wool but with characteristic 4 ‘moon’ shapes uncovered on back.
Gorj White fabric waistcoat called vestă made of aba and decorated with black braid, forms part of portul schileresc.
Romanați, Waist length, decorated with rosettes and spirals mostly in red, buttons up, black fur edging (same decoration can be seen in Pleven, Bulgaria in 19C).
Argeș, Vâlcea, Gorj Long sheepskin cloak called sarică or bitușca worn by shepherds along the south Carpathians.
Câmpia Munteniei White or brown cojoace decorated with embroidery in large spirals or large floral patterns.
North Moldavia
Rădăuăți Women – Pieptar cu poale – sheepskin vest with flared skirt.
Câmpulung Moldovenesc Pieptar edged with polecat fur.
Fălticeni Cojoc and Pieptar decorated with several horizontal bands of floral embroidery, plus vertical band down front.
Gura Humorului Edged with black lambs skin and less elaborate ornamentation.
Valea Bistriței Pieptar called ‘bondița’ is decorated with floral embroidery in coloured wool.
Central and South Moldavia
Neamț Hip length & flared skirt, edged in grey wool.
Bacău Cojoc and Pieptar decorated with ornamental lines like 2 thin stems also seen on other parts of costume. Less decoration than Neamț and not flared, also grey edged.
Published on 11th March 2017, last modified on 25th February 2018