Kontusz

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Polish noble Stanisław Antoni Szczuka (1652-1710) in a representative national Polish outfit. A red kontusz tied with a pas kontuszowy. Underneath a żupan with a low collar. Left hand holds a fur cap with a low band. Characteristic hair and moustache. Unknown artist.
Noble Ukrainian Cossack in a yellow żupan and red kontusz.

Kontusz (from Polish language; plural kontusze; also spelled in English language as Kontush or Kuntush from Ukrainian: Кунтуш) (originally Hungarian Köntösis - robe) - a type of outer garment worn by the Hungarian, Polish, Belarusian, Lithuanian and Ukrainian male nobility (szlachta). It became popular in the 16th century and came to the lands that were under Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth rule via Hungary from Turkey. In the 17th century, worn over an inner garment (żupan), the kontusz became a notable element of male Polish national and Ukrainian cossack attire.

The kontusz was a long robe, usually reaching to below the knees, with a set of decorative buttons down the front. The sleeves were long and loose, on hot days worn untied, thrown on the back. In winter a fur lining could be attached to the kontusz, or a delia worn over it. The kontusz was usually of a vivid colour, and the lining was of a contrasting hue. The kontusz was tied with a long, wide sash called a pas kontuszowy.

The kontusz was more of a decorative garment than a useful one. Tradition states that the first kontusze were worn by szlachta who captured them from Ottomans to display as loot.[citation needed]

Throwing kontusz sleeves on one's back and stroking one's moustache was considered to be a signal of readiness for a fight.[citation needed]

In 1776, Sejm deputies from different voivodeships of Poland were obliged to wear different coloured żupany and kontusze denoting their voivodeships.

In Poland, kontusz was worn mainly by the nobility, but it was a common part of Zaporozhian cossack attire.

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Sources[edit]

  • Jan Samek: Polskie Rzemiosło Artystyczne, Wydawnictwa Artystyczne i Filmowe, Warszawa 1984, ISBN 83-221-0170-8