Leather belts

Belts (cingătoare, pl. cingători) made of woven fabric or leather form part of traditional clothing in most regions. Men wear either leather or woven belts or both depending on the region, whereas women usually wear woven belts. The production of leather belts has taken place in workshops since the introduction of the guilds in 1600s.

Leather belts – chimir, curea

Belt with repoussér, Transylvania

Broad leather belts are worn by men throughout Transylvania including Maramureș, in most of Moldavia, and along the southern side of the Carpathians. These are made from folded leather and differ in width and decoration from zone to zone. They usually have a covered pocket which is used for keeping money or tobacco. The widest belts (around 30cm) are found in Maramureș and Oaș, more narrow ones come from further south. Chimir are still worn in many areas of Romania for working in the fields and in the forestry industry.

Belt decorated with coloured leather

Decorations on chimir are made with a number of techniques. The most widespread technique involves stamping the leather from the underside to make decorative patterns (called repoussé work which means “raised in relief”) and decorating with eyelets, or decorating with narrow stripes of thin coloured leather (usually green or brown) called meșină. Thick metal thread (especially copper) or tin tacks (ținte de cositor) or studs are also used in some areas.

Belt decorated with beaded pattern

More recently the coloured leather strips have been replaced by floral designs which are filled with many small brightly coloured glass beads. This style of belts is found in north Transylvania and across the Carpathians in Suceava county.

Region Summary
Maramureș Widest leather belts decorated in repoussé work.
North Transylvania
Bistrița and  Năsăud This area is where money belts originated and then spread throughout Transylvania. These belts were originally decorated with eyelets, repoussé work, and appliquéd coloured leather strips. More recently the coloured leather strips have been replaced by floral designs which are filled with many small brightly coloured glass beads. This style of belts is now also found across the Carpathians in Suceava.
Liverzile, Bistrita Năsăud Example – Cluj Museum Narrow belts (5cm wide) decorated with brass studs bearing solar signs.
Câmpia Transilvaniei Older style leather belts decorated with “prisnele“, circular discs of brass (alamă), positioned along the belt.
South Transylvania
Zona Ocna – Miercurea – Sibiu, Șerpar (wide leather belt) decorated with woven leather stripes of one colour (irhă) or repoussé work.
Poiana, Mărginimea Sibiului Curea decorated with coloured thread and copper wire (sârmă de aramă).
Zona Târnave Mare Chimir 15-20cm wide, decorated with ornamental motifs either in appliqué leather or repoussé work.
Sibiu Narrow leather belt called curea.
Saxon Metal belts.
Orăstie, Hunedoara Belts decorated with green spirals of thin leather (meșină).
Hațeg, Hunedoara Money belts decorated with punching and metal tacks.
Upper Jiu valley, Hunedoara Belts known as Șerpar cusut cu sârma decorated with brass and copper plated thread using geometric and stylised vegetable motifs. .
Padureni Women wear a narrow leather belt decorated with tin rivets.
Râmnicu Sărat (and surrounding areas) Leather belts with brass buckles decorated with tin tacks worn over a brâu.
Buzău In north zone men wear red or white brâu under ornamental leather belts (curea) decorated with tin tacks.
Moldavia and Sibiu, Transylvania Long narrow leather belts called bete are worn by shepherds over a brâu. These are wound 3 times round waist and are decorated with brass or tin studs.
Moldavian shepherds especially in Botoșani and Dorohai regions 3″ wide thick leather belts fastened by brass buckles covered with patches of coloured enamel in green, blue, yellow, white and red. Possibly with an oriental origin.
Câmpulung Moldoveneasca, Suceava and Vrancea zones Chimir are decorated with repoussé work and tin tacks.
Vasului, Moldavia Very wide belts decorated with large metal studs are worn are worn over a wide brâu.
Vrancea Leather belts with ținte de cositor (tin tacks).
Published on 15th December 2017, last modified on 25th February 2018