Women’s headwear

Straw coronet (cunună)

Headwear and hairstyle were the only part of a woman’s traditional dress, which depicted her marital status. Single girls had their heads uncovered and hair braided. In the traditional wedding ceremony covering the head was a significant moment. There were three stages in the ceremony, dressing the hair, gathering the hair, and covering the head. After their wedding day married women always had their heads covered. Each region had its own modes of traditional hairdressing, and in certain regions there were special ornate headdresses for wedding ceremonies called cunună (coronet) or Hungarian parta.

The main type of head covering worn by women was an oblong cotton scarf or silk veil, a square or triangular headscarf, a bonnet, a straw or felt hat, or a combination of a scarf and a hat.

Oblong cotton scarf – ștergar

The oblong cotton scarf or silk veil was the oldest type of traditional head covering. The oblong cotton scarf (ștergar, cârpă, or peșchir) was worn in whole of Moldavia, Muntenia, Oltenia, Dobrogea and certain regions of Transylvania until the end of the 19th century, and is still used for decoration and a household linen in village houses. It is made of flax, hemp, or cotton and is around 7-8 ft long and 15-20 inches wide and can be decorated with embroidery and beads. The style of wearing the ştergar, varied from region to region and with fashion. In parts of Transylvania it used to be worn over a cap or support.

Silk veil – maramă (pl. marame)

Arefu, Argeș

A maramă is longer then a ștergar and is usually made of home woven cocoon silk although in some areas cotton was used. Both maramă and ștergar are woven using two or more heddles. The maramă is worn mainly in southern Romania, South Moldavia and south Transylvania mainly on festive occasions. Marame possibly have an oriental origin and are decorated with white patterns woven onto a white background and often grouped toward the ends. In Argeș the patterns can include coloured geometric motifs. It takes one to eight days to make a maramă. Marame are folded in different ways according to the age of the wearer, the region, fashion and the occasion. In certain areas of the south they used to be worn over a cap or bonnet. Strings of coins or beaded headbands are also worn over marame.

Square scarf – basma (pl. basmele)

Sângeorz-Bai, Năsăud

A basma is a square of fabric woven in cotton, silk or wool, and either plain, decorated with embroidery, or printed. They can be of varying size and thickness and are also called casânică, șal, cașmir, năframă, cârpa or broboadă. Basmele are usually folded in half diagonally and worn by women to cover their heads, by tying them at the back, or under the chin depending on the zone, nationality, fashion or age of the woman. Basmele have been worn all over Romania since the latter half of the 19th century. These are usually factory made in fine-spun industrially woven wool and were originally imported from the Orient. Printed floral headscarves are most common type seen today in Transylvania and Moldavia.

Large square scarf – broboadă (pl. broboade)

Fringed headscarf (broboada)

A broboadă is a large, thick woollen home woven or factory made scarf worn by women in winter to cover either the head or shoulders, since the first decade of the 20th century. Broboadă can be dark coloured: black, maroon, or grey, or more vividly coloured as in certain zones of Bihor, Banat, Maramureș.

Triangular scarf – testemel (pl. testemele) (Bulgarian – testemel)

Topoloveni, Argeș

Triangular scarves are worn mostly in the south, Dobrogea, East Moldavia and across the Danube. These were home woven of thin white cotton or muslin or bought ready made and are often fringed with lace and beads. They can be called testemel, tulpan, (pl. tulpane), ciumber (pl. ciumberi), or bariș (pl. barișe), these names indicate the Balkan or Oriental origin of this type of scarf. The way of tying these varies from village to village. They can be tied under the chin, or with the ends passed under the chin and the corners turned up and tied on top of the head, or tied behind the neck, with the top wrapped around loops of hair. Black ciumberi, tulpane or barișe were worn on work days or by older women. Ciumberi for festival days were decorated by attaching lace into which metal sequins and multi-coloured beads in yellow, cherry, dark brown and black were sewn to the front part of the scarf. In parts of south-east Romania a ciumber or bariș was worn under a ștergar. A tulpan was usually a 3 coloured headscarf made of thin cotton, wool or silk muslin cloth.

Bonnets – ceapsă (pl. cepse) or conci (pl. conciuri)

Small cloth bonnets (ceapsă)

In Banat and southwest Hunedoara small cloth bonnets (ceapsă or conci) are worn mainly by married women. These are made of flax or cotton fabric which is embroidered with woollen, silk, cotton or metal thread. There are many different styles, some based on late 18th century bonnets found in other parts of Europe. They used to form a component of the complex of head ornaments gătelii capului which were characteristic in some parts of Romania. The ceapsă is worn on both weekdays and holidays and can be triangular or oval shaped, or have one ‘horn’ (Pădureni), or two ‘horns’ (Hațeg). The predominant colours are red in Banat and black in Pãdureni, with older women wearing bonnets in more subdued colours, though ceapsă can also be woven in deep pink, or more recently in an “old gold” shade of yellow. The richest style of decoration on ceapsă or conci is woven geometric motifs which cover the entire bonnet. These are made with a special technique using a mirror to follow the pattern on the back of the cloth. Silver and gold coins and beads are used as decoration. Ceapsă can be worn with basmale (scarves), ștergare or văltori (hats).

The name conci is used both for the small cloth bonnet worn in Câmpia Bănătului or for a form of head ornament made from a circle of wood, in plaited hair or wool, covered in a cloth, which was worn under a scarf. This form of head ornament used to be worn by married women in some regions of the country and was used to support elaborate hair styles. The name conci is also used to refer to a necklace made of coins worn in Banat.

Straw hats – pălărie (pl. pălării din paie)

Wide brimmed straw hat

Straw hats made in specialist workshops are worn by women along the Carpathians, and in south and central Transylvania. They are worn in the fields in summer, often over a scarf or maramă as protection from the sun and for festive occasions when they are decorated with coloured ribbons, tassels, beads, flowers and small mirrors. The most common style has a small crown and wide brim and was possibly introduced by the Saxon Germans.

Felt hats – pălărie din fetru

In south Carpathians (zones of Muscel and Argeș) & in Transylvania, (zona Târnavelor, Mărginimea Sibiului, Ț>ara Oltului, Valea Mureșului) women wear felt hats with a closely fitting crown and small brim (bor). These are decorated with multi-coloured ribbons, with tassels, and flowers. Around Sibiu and in Valea Mureșului women also wear felt hats with very large brims turned back.

Region Summary
Lugoj Coronets worn called conciuri made of silk woven materials.
Câmpia Bănătului Cloth bonnet – conci woven in arămiz (yellow thread).
Valea Bistrei Ceapsă worn made of linen and covered with polychrome embroidery & beads.
Ceapsă drepunghiulară, folded, or ceapsă triunghiulară, with high edges (brims).
Maramureș, Oaș
Maramureș Bridal coronets decorated to match pieptar.
Oaș Bride’s headdress called coada cu cunună made of her hair adorned with beads, ribbons, wool, flowers.
Codru Cashmere headscarves decorated in floral patterns.
North Transylvania
Bistrița-Năsăud Young girls wear coronet covering their ears called păunițe (little pea-hens).
Călățele / Rimetea Young Hungarians wear parta, a coronet decorated with beads and ribbons.
Csík, Kazon Up to 1st world war, women wore black bonnets made of silk or cloth and decorated with beads and ribbons. These have 1-3 crescents (like Swiss hats) and 10cm wide and 2m long black ribbons which tie under chin.
South Transylvania
Petroșani Ceapsă worn or married women wear năframă of white cloth, embroidered on ends and on part that covers forehead.
Zona Pădurenilor Ceapsă made of cloth, covered by a white ștergar which is wrapped round head and under chin, then is fixed on ceapsă with 3 pins with coloured heads and decorated with red artificial flowers.
Ceapsă cu un corn
(bonnet with a peak).
Zona Târnavelor Older style head-dress called vălitoare, made of a pasteboard circlet
cârpă cu ranțe – imported factory made fringed scarf of wool or cotton, usually maroon, green or cream, introduced into local costume before 1st world war.
Zona Hațegului Ceapsă cu două coarne – bonnet with two ‘peaks’ or ceapsă în formă de bonetă, tied at back.
Mărginamea Sibiu Older style headdress vălitoare cu ciurel is a piece of white linen wrapped round head. Around 1900 a form of ștergar called a pahiol made of silk was wound round the head like a turban. More recently a black fringed broboadă is worn with the ends tied outside the scarf at the nape of the neck.
Țara Făgărașului Ștergar called pomeselnic worn over a bonnet called a căiță de cap made of black cloth or silk.
Zona Branului A fine maramă with linear decoration comprising parallel rows in black and gold thread called a pahiol is worn, or bariș – factory made scarf of fine wool worn by married women under carpă or under silk marama.
Zona Perșanilor Ceapsă worn by young women, and by married women on Sundays. It is worn with peak towards nape of neck and angled sideways, and is decorated with silver tinsel and flowers.Ștergar fixed on a support shaped in an equilateral triangle 20cm long, made of a bunch of straw.
Țara Oltului Yellow fringed scarf called cârpă worn.
Argeș Maramă can have coloured geometric patterns woven into ends.
Câmpia Munteniei Ciumber or bariș – triangular scarf of thin material, usually white cotton decorated with crochet lace on the edges, worn under a silk ștergar.
North Moldavia
Rădăuăți White head kerchief with woven colour ornaments.
Central & South Moldavia
Țara Vrancei Hair worn with a parting, forming 2 peaks on crest of head, with thick cloth worn over it.
Ștergar worn with older costumes. Maramă has become more popular recently.
Published on 13th February 2018, last modified on 24th January 2019