Dolomites Traditional Dress and Wood Carving
The traditional costume of the Val Gardena is one of the most beautiful and finest of the entire Alpine area. Both the men’s and women’s dresses were crafted with premium silk, lace, ribbons, and jewelry. These materials allowed for each costume to be unique and rich with color and detail. However, in the last decades, this traditional costume is only worn for special occasions and no longer for everyday wear.
Each costume was unique to an individual, whether that being their age or marital status. One of the major differences between unmarried women and married women’s dress was the lace cloth worn on the shoulders. Married women would wear a yellow one and unmarried women would wear a red one. When it came to men the placement of their green cloth suspenders distinguished the married from the unmarried. Married men wore them over a waistcoat with a floral pattern whereas unmarried men wore them over a red one.
For both men and women of Val Gardena, there were particular pieces of their costume were of great significance. For the women, they wore an iron belt (la centa), which held the cutlery on the right side and a small iron lamb on the left. The iron lamb for a woman represented their beauty. For men, their pride remains with their leather belts with elaborate quill embroidery. Though these costumes are no longer warn for everyday use you can still find the Val Gardena people wearing them for religious feast days, parades and weddings as the traditional dress is still an important element to their culture. You can still find the traditional costume on most local bands, and folk-dance groups when visiting.
Val Gardena is not only known for its traditional costumes. It also has always had a reputation for their skilled and diligent craftsmen since the Middle Ages. One craft, the art of wood carving, became inseparable from the name Val Gardena all thanks to three men in the 17th century. In the early years these craftsmen would produce bowls and other utensils, but as the art grew so did the talent. The more talented created items like religious status, animals, and caricatures. As the art grew in Val Gardena so did their reputation and people from all over would purchase these works of art. The craft is still alive and well in Val Gardena and you can find works of art all over the valley many of which are still produced at home. The Dolomites have a rich and vibrant culture dating back centuries, so why wait to explore?