We dedicate this article to the late professor and scholar Ioan Sorin Apan, member of the Romanian Academy of Traditional Arts, ethnologist, folklorist, church painter, folk art creator, writer and accordion player. In an interview with Harries Wallmen, he offered an ancestral presentation of the native traditional costume, in which he described the DNA of the Romanian ‘ie’.
• The Romanian brand – a temple in a piece of garment
Professor Ioan Sorin Apan stated: ‘The traditional costume is like a temple in a piece of garment, an imago mundi bearing a myriad of symbols, hierophanies, manifestations of the sacred that create both its story and our unique, peerless cultural identity. This the real Romanian brand, the wearable temple – the traditional, folk costume, that upheld the Romanian people’s values throughout history, in key moments of its existence. Back then, it was accompanied by explanatory texts, folk literature that found an echo on the drawings and hieroglyphs on the costumes. Because the same thing is written on the costume – and this has already turned into a theological perspective! – the fact that man can accept the unseen world with the aid of the symbols in the natural world, thus making his way back to God’.
• The symbols on the costume
Professor Ioan Sorin Apan also said: ‘A genuine costume must contain a cosmological story, a short summary of the universe. It’s much easier to understand when you seek help in the lyrics of a carol, which, together with the symbols on the costume, make a special meaning: ‘Here come the carolers/ God is amongst them/ Clothed in a garment/ Long from Heavens to Earth/ It’s scrivened on the back, scrivened on the chest/ Scrivened on the lap, scrivened on the waist/ The flower field is scrivened on both sides/ The rough sea is scrivened all around/ Two morning stars are scrivened on the shoulders/ The Sun and the Moon on the right shoulder,/ The world painted on the left shoulder’.
Harris Wallmen added: ‘Now that we know the history, the sacrality, the apothropaic function (casting out evil spirits) of these symbols, we can truly understand Ioan Sorin Apan’s statement above. Information prevents us from being ignorant’.