We are used to more familiar and common bridal headwear – veils, hats or caps, wreaths, tiaras, and so on, but this piece is unique and even exotic, you might say. Though, 100 or so years ago, brides in Ukraine often wore such headdresses to their wedding. If you look closer, you’ll see charming white doves hand-stitched on the fabric. Of course, they symbolize the couple, their pure and eternal love, and the new family (nest) they build together. It’s a wonderful wedding garment that was worn by some bride years ago and, today, is a part of a museum collection.
This interesting and pretty wedding headgear is called “namitka”. It is a long rectangular piece of fabric without any fasteners; it is worn just wound around the head in a specific way.
This particular headgear is from Europe, Western Ukraine, Bukovyna region. It is draped so that the hair, forehead, and neck are covered.
As you can see, this namitka is rather long and the ends reach the waist or even below the waist at the back.
The fabric of the headdress is adorned with whitework. The middle part of it is covered with simpler patterns that form sort of stripes. But the ends of namitka look much more ornate – they are embroidered with symbolic designs. For instance, we see white doves, which are facing each other and are sitting on a nest. These patterns are meaningful – they symbolize a strong connection and love between the bride and groom, the creation of their new family, the purity of their relationship (because, of course, 100 years ago, the bride had to be virgin and her first sexual experience happened at the first wedding night; the groom most often was virgin, too), etc.
As most outfits were handmade and hand-decorated at the time, the bride usually constructed her namitka by herself, so she invented the embroidery patterns and did all the needlework by her own hands. Because of this, people believed that the garment gained some protection power – it absorbed the girl’s energy, love, desires, and so on and became sort of an amulet for the bride.