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Greeks wear traditional costumes on special occasions, such as holidays and weddings. Modern traditional Greek clothing traces its roots to ancient Greek fashion and Byzantine costumes. Turkish elements were added during the period of Ottoman rule. There are multiple types of traditional Greek clothing, varying from one region to another. The different types of traditional Greek clothing include foustanella, karagouna, Sarakatsana and the Pavlos Melas costume.
One of the most well-known pieces of traditional Greek clothing is foustanella, a pleated white kilt that derives front the ancient chiton. Foustanella is a male costume, mostly worn in the southern and central regions of Greece. The skirt is made of numerous triangular cloth pieces sewn together obliquely. The skirt has 400 pleats, with the number symbolizing the years of Ottoman rule over Greece. Greek soldiers wore the foustanella during the revolution of 1821 against the Turkish regime, and it is worn by the members of Greece’s Presidential Guard at solemn occasions.
Karagouna is a traditional female costume of Thessaly and is a simplified version of a brightly colored wedding dress. The costume includes a long tunic with black fringe, covered by an embroidered white overcoat and a matching red velvet vest. Distinctive features of this type of Greek clothing are the arm bands with black fringe. A black embroidered scarf decorated with gold coins is wrapped around the head.
A Sarakatsana costume is a handmade piece of traditional Greek clothing, worn by the nomadic Greek animal farmers. The costume is a pleated black woolen dress worn over a white cotton blouse. A sleeveless jacket covered by an apron and collar is worn over the black dress. This costume is completed with woolen arm and leg coverings and a black woolen scarf worn on the head. Sometimes, silver earrings, belts and bracelets complement the Sarakatsana costume.
The Pavlos Melas costume is characteristic for male folk dancers and it is an expression of the national Greek pride. This originally was a Macedonian fighter costume worn by men during the wars with the Ottomans and Bulgarians. Its name derives from Pavlos Melas, a Greek officer whose sacrifices and heroic deeds contributed to freeing Macedonia from the Turkish rule. The costume consists of an embroidered tunic worn over white trousers. This is the official military uniform of the guards of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens.
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