Kroje Design Tips and Hints.
Here are some websites that might be a jumping place for designing your kroje.
http://slovak-folk-costumes.tumblr.com/archive Be sure to click "Home" and "Archive" to see a feast for the eyes of koje! Or add the main page and archive pages:
Social Media can also be a good source for finding kroje from your family's heritage. For example, I (Luanne) was able to find a folk performance group on Facebook from my children's ancestral village in Slovakia. This gave me a starting point for creating hand made kroje and eventually purchasing one directly from Papradno that was a replica of the oldest known kroj in the village.
William (Bill) Moravek
A kroj is a traditional Czech, Moravian, and Slovak folkdress worn by both men and women. The outfits reflect centuries of evolution and refinement and vary significantly by region and village. All are traditionally handmade and a work of art. A woman’s kroj is usually more detailed and intricate than a man’s kroj. It is traditional for a young girl to design and make her kroj with the assistance of her mother and grandmother. As she gets older, the kroj is modified and additional handiwork is added. Kroje are worn on special occasions like weddings, parties, christenings, and mourning ceremonies.
Last summer, while I was enjoying a cup of coffee with friends, someone mentioned seeing a lady’s kroj in a yard sale. I was sure he was mistaken, because I knew how special a kroj was to the woman who made it. Later that afternoon, I remembered our discussion and went looking for the purported kroj. After driving around the area, my wife and I found the yard sale near St John Lutheran Church. Sitting under a large tree, were three ladies who were trying to clean out their recently deceased mother’s home and dispose of her property.
When I asked if they had a kroj for sale, all three looked at me with uncertainty, and the oldest daughter asked, “What is a kroj?” I was surprised at their question, so I asked them if they were Czech or Slovak, and they said that they were Czech, but they were unfamiliar with the word, Kroj and had not been able to attend the community’s Czech-Slovak festival in years. I told them the kroj was an ethnic Czech-Slovak folkdress that was normally very colorful and included a dress and top. The youngest sister said, “Oh, you mean mother’s Czech Outfit.” She then retrieved a colorful skirt and tunic and showed me the kroj their mother had worn at special occasions, and while singing with the Czech Singers at the annual town festival.
“And what are you asking for the ensemble?” I asked.
“Well,” one replied, “You can have the entire outfit for seven dollars.”
Knowing how special the kroj had been to the deceased mother, I asked if they were sure that this was an acceptable price. They all agreed, saying that they had no use for the outfit and that, if I didn’t buy it, they would probably discard it or give it to the Salvation Army. We thanked the ladies, rescued their mother’s kroj and added it to my wife’s collection.
A few months later, a friend found another kroj at an estate auction, and because she was the only bidder, was able to buy the kroj for a very low price. This kroj, which was probably more than 100 years old, was made of blue satin and lace, and was decorated with extensive, beautiful embroidering that must have taken many days, perhaps years to make. This kroj would also have been discarded if our friend hadn’t recognized its value and added it to her collection.
Unfortunately, these unappreciated heirlooms often end up at yard sales and auctions, and a new generation unknowingly loses a part of their family heritage.
We are asking members of the community to check their attics and closets for their parent’s or grandparent’s kroje and rescue them for future generations.