This is a quick reference glossary for some main Romanian folkwear terms.

Romanian pronunciation is very similar to Italian, with a few special mentions (references below are made to the English pronunciation):
ă - like 'a' in about
â or î (same sound) - without equivalent in English – the closest reference would be the silent e at the end of  intelligent when pronounced quickly.
ș - like ‘sh’ in shoe
ț - like ‘ts’ in bits
I - in most cases like ‘ee’ in free, but when placed at the end of a word it is sometimes pronounced as a short, more silent "i" together with the previous vowel or consonant.
ce – like ‘che’ in cherry
ci – like ‘chi’ in chimney
che – like ‘che’ in chemistry
chi – like key
j - like the French 'j' in Bonjour — English equivalent is the "s" in pleasure.



Used to be a separately embroidered piece of rectangular cloth added to the shoulders of the blouse, whose function was to cover the addition of another cloth fold to the sleeves. It was initially a very thin band but with time evolved into a complex decorative section of the sleeve.


Raw silk, introduced at the end of the 19th century. Became one of the most popular and desirable fabric for the making of head shawls, marame. The making of raw silk was an art in itself: once the silk cocoons were separated into yellow and white, they were introduced into a bowl with hot water, and mixed with a wooden spoon until the cocoons started opening up and some of the threads would catch on to the wooden spoon. Once the “head” of the silk thread was found, it is pulled out of the water and spun with a spindle. The raw silk was further woven in a “pulling machine” (mașina de tras borangic).


Broboadă (or velitură) intricate headwear specific to the Mărginimea Sibiului region.


The most common cover-up throughout Romania, catrință (with its plethora of local denominations, from șurț (central & southern Transylvania), păstură (Tara Oltului, FăgărașMountains) to zăvelcă, boscea, pestelcă, fâstâc (Oltenia) to zadie (northern Transylvania, Maramureș) denotes narrow rectangular woolen aprons. Hand woven and hand embroidered, they usually come in pairs, covering both the front and the rear – only young girls are allowed, in certain parts of Romania, to wear only one catrință covering the front.

Cămașă bătrânească / cămașă dreaptă

Also referred to as “cămeșoi” in Moldova and “cămașă zoroclie” in Muntenia. Olden shirt, preceded the ie, with which it continues to coexist across the Romanian territory. A common style for folk blouses across the European continent – ethnographers have referred to it as the (Andean) poncho-style. From the Gaelic camisia.


Ceapsă (or conci) — headwear bonnet specific to the ethnographic area of Banat, western Romania. Always embroidered with golden or silver metallic thread with geometrical motifs. A variation is the conci cu monezi — the bonnet covered with coins, usually displayed at wedding ceremonies.


Hemp, herbaceous plant cultivated for its stalks for making textile fabric. Back in the day, a household without its own hemp plantation was an oddity. According to statistics, before 1989 there were tens of thousands of hectares of hemp flax (the herbaceous plant cultivated for its seed, linseed, which is the base of the linen material) cultivated in Romania. Nowadays there are barely a few hundred hectares of hemp left. In case you were wondering, the hemp plant used in the making of the textile fabric is very different from the plant of Indian Cannabis (sad news) – the hemp plant used for fabrics is usually 1/4 fibre and the rest wooden stems – and has only 0.01% hallucinogenic power.


See ceapsă.


Literally translated to “little key”, type of seam bringing the pieces of fabric together. Several types of such seams – some are so specific that one can tell what region a shirt is from by the type of cheiță employed. The names of seam types are equally funny: gheruțe (little claws), puricel (little flea), crossed, zigzag.


Clin (or pavă) — gussets: applied at the armpit stitching of the blouse; they can be adjusted for a better fitting of the blouse.

Cununa miresei

The bride’s crown, specific to the wedding head dressing of Tara Oașului, northern Romania.


Alternative spelling iia/ie/iie, pronounced ee-ah — the most iconic item of the Romanian folkwear, renowned for its subtlety and finesse and for the graceful distribution of embroidery on the crisp-white blouse. Also known as cămașa încrețită (creased blouse)or the Carpathian blouse. The word ia originated from the latin tunicae lineae, and the alternative name cămașă, cămeșă, from the Gaelic camisia. While cămașă can refer to both a woman’s and man’s blouse, “ia” strictly refers to the woman’s.It is a gathered shirt – that is, all the folds of fabric are gathered around the neckline.


Initially served the functional role of gathering the wide pieces of fabric together in a subtle crease underneath the altiță. Both the altițăand the încreț lose their functional roles throughout the 19th century but are preserved as decorative elements.The usual motifs embroidered on the încreț are:rombul(diamond shape), rombul cu laturi prelungite (diamond shape with extended sides), cârligul ciobanului (the “S” known as shepherd’s hook), coarnele berbecului (ram’s horns).


Wrap around skirt made out of a rectangular piece of hand woven fabric, worn at the waist, held in place with a woven belt (brâu) that covers the poale, the underskirt, leaving only the embroidered hem visible. Lower body covering common to the Moldavian region (usually plain black with vertical red stripes – it is referred to as catrință) and northern parts of Muntenia (heavily embroidered with silver and golden thread) – with a special mention to the pesteman in Vlașca historical ethnographic zone (now Giurgiu county), a variation of a creased fotă worn with an additional apron (zăvelcă).


Tow, bundle of unspun natural fibers that had been thoroughly scutched and combed and are ready to be spun.

Furca de tors

Distaff; used in spinning unspun fibers (hemp, linen, flax). Its shape and size varies with the ethnographic zone: usually between 1 - 2.3 m in most regions in Romania apart from longer furci in the Apuseni Mountains and the grounded furci in Bistrița Năsăud. It goes by different names: in the north and northwestern areas (Maramureș, Oaș, Bihor) they call it cojelcă or cojolcă (from the Ukrainian, kyželica). Straight, or with horns (especially around southern Transylvania and northern Oltenia), the distaffs display intricate wooden carvings and it is not unusual for them to exhibit the year of their making. In certain areas of Romania, it is said that when a baby girl was born, a distaff was placed above her head, so that she would grow into loving the art of spinning.

Fusul de tors

Spindle; used for spinning and twisting the thread from the amount of hemp, flax, wool etc, held on a distaff.


Long shawl made out of hand woven raw silk called borangic, marama is a quintessential item in the traditional folk clothing specific to the ethnographic areas of southern and eastern Romania: Oltenia, Muntenia and Moldova. A maramă is up to 4 meters long and is always left to gently touch the ground at the back.


Is a variation of the catrință, specific to the Banat area but extended to western parts of Oltenia as well as southern parts of Bihor (Crișana): it is a band (petec) with tassels (ciocoţi or chiţele) worn at the waist, either only at the back in combination with catrinta in the front, or both front and rear.


Specific to northern Romania, particularly the Maramureș and Tara Oașului regions – in Oaș, also called chischineu (k’iskineu), denoting the silk head kerchief.


Literally, rivers — the lines of embroideries flowing down the sleeves, from the încreț all the way to the lower edge of the sleeve.


Loom. one of the most complex wooden technologies in the making of the fabric by weaving – yarn or thread. This is where the process of interweaving the yarn takes place. There are two type across the country: the horizontal one (the foot-treadle, most common) and the vertical loom (more rare, used in the making of larger sized carpets called “scoarțe” rather than folkwear).

(a) Toarce (verb)

The act of spinning the vegetal or animal fibres that have been previously scutched in order to form the yarn – a process done with the help of a spindle or distaff. (the verb literally translates to “purr”/ "purring" in Romanian).


Transhumance, the practice of moving sheep according to a seasonal cycle – that is, to the lowlands during autumn (Saint Demetre, around the 26th October) and to the highlands during spring (around St. George, 23rd April). Essentially a form of pastoralist nomadism.


See broboada


Pleated wrap around skirt – or pleated fotă, as it is sometimes described – the vâlnic is specific to the ethnographic region of Oltenia.