Nīca Women's Folk CostumeFold-out, Latvian State Printing House, ca. 1960

This quick reference fold-out on card stock is a Soviet-era work (priced in kopecks and including references to the Baltic Soviet republics) reminiscent of Latvju raksti—Ornement Letton, which was offered as a subscription series by the State Printing House from 1924 to 1931 and also published in three volumes. We have assembled our collection from multiple sources. It's worth noting the illustrations of folk costumes in the Concise Encyclopedia of the Latvian SSR (1970) are virtually identical to those shown here.

The cover's background shows a traditional weave pattern; inside are an illustration of a full folk costume and various details: shirt (blouse), shoulder and cuff embroidery, bodice, brooch, and shawl. The flip side provides a brief overview in four languages: French, English, Russian, and Latvian.

Nīca district within Latvia today

The village of Nīca is located on the Bārta River, about 21 km (13 miles) south of Liepāja, near Latvia's Baltic sea coast. Today's Nīcas pagasts (Nīca parish) is a combination of the historical Nīca and Otaņķi parish.

The Nīca women's folk costume is particularly renowned for its intricate and colorful design. Its most distinctive elements are its red skirt, orantely embroidered white shawl, and crown. Its primary colors are red, white, gray, and silver: red as a symbol of an active and healthy life; white for virtue and eternity; while silver—the effect of the glass beads sewn into the crown—embodies hidden power as in moonlight and starlight.[1]

Sample of Nīca embroidery, woolen yarn on linen fabric. Latvian Chamber of Agriculture, 1938
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Fold-out cover

(Woman's full dress, restored image)

(Woman's full dress, original)

Shirt (blouse), embroidery on top of shoulder, embroidery around cuff

Bodice, bodice ornamentation, brooch

Shawl, corner detail

Overview (French)

Overview (English)

Overview (Russian)

Overview (Latvian)

Publisher's imprint

[1]This description and sample of the women's vest shown here is adapted from Strinca, P. Nīca laikmetu griežos, 2008.

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