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Not currently on display at the V&A

Poukamiso (Chemise)
late eighteenth century to early nineteenth century (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This poukamiso (chemise) is made in one piece, but has the appearance of a tunic and skirt as a deep pleat has been taken into it, a way of adjusting the length. It is sewn without a shoulder seam. The silk was produced locally on Karpathos, as was the green dye, which obtained its characteristic colour from the lichen rocella tinctoria.

This garment was acquired on the Greek island of Karpathos by the traveler and antiquarian James Theodore Bent, from whom it was purchased by the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1886.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Linen or silk crepe embroidered with silk The silk was produced locally on Karpathos, as was the dye, which obtained its characteristic deep green from lichen <i>rocella tinctoria</i>
Brief Description
Poukamiso (chemise), linen or silk crepe embroidered with silk, Greek-Orthodox community of the island of Karpathos, the Dodecanese, Greece, late eighteenth century to early nineteenth century

Physical Description
Poukamiso (chemise), linen or silk crepe embroidered with silk in some areas, square sleeves. Embroidered in tent and long cross stitches with various repeating patterns of floral and other forms arranged geometrically.



The Karpathos and Kassos poukamiso (chemise) was influenced by the dalmatica, a loose Roman garment. The central portion of the poukamiso was made from one length of fabric with an opening for the head. Additional width was created by adding bias-cut fabric to the sides of the garment from below the chest. This construction was conducive to free movement and meant that fabric wastage could be kept to a minimum. The horizontal pleats seen on these garments initially allowed for adjustment, but do not always serve this function on later versions. The chemises were made from linen or silk depending on the occasions for which they were intended.



On these garments the embroidery is economically concentrated around areas that would show when the next layer of clothing was donned. The hems and sleeves tend to be particularly highly decorated. The embroidery down the centre front of the Karpathos and Kassos poukamiso suggests that these chemises were not always largely covered by other garments.
Dimensions
  • With sleeves spread out width: 147cm
  • Length: 159cm
Object history
This poukamiso (chemise) is made from linen or silk crepe embroidered with silk in some areas. It was produced on Karpathos, an island of the Dodecanese, Greece, during the late eighteenth century to early nineteenth century.



The Dodecanese islands were then under Ottoman rule. The dress of the Turkish and Greek, or Muslim and Christian as they were distinguished at the time, communities was notably different. Dress helped each community to define and express its religious, later national and always local identity. Garments of this kind were part of the Greek-Orthodox community of the islands of Karpathos and Kassos.



In the 1880s the V&A purchased this poukamiso from the British traveler and antiquarian James Theodore Bent.



762 to 763-1912 are fragments from the font and back of a similar garment.





With thanks to Xenia Politou, Aegeas AMKE Curator of Modern Greek Culture, BENAKI MUSEUM for providing detailed comments and advice in 2021. The record was substantially amended in 2022.
Summary
This poukamiso (chemise) is made in one piece, but has the appearance of a tunic and skirt as a deep pleat has been taken into it, a way of adjusting the length. It is sewn without a shoulder seam. The silk was produced locally on Karpathos, as was the green dye, which obtained its characteristic colour from the lichen rocella tinctoria.



This garment was acquired on the Greek island of Karpathos by the traveler and antiquarian James Theodore Bent, from whom it was purchased by the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1886.
Associated Objects
Bibliographic References
  • Ioannou-Yannara, Tatiana, Alexandra Doumas, Xenia Politou, Petros Ballidis, Mouseio Benakē, Greek Embroidery 17th-19th century: Works of Art from the Collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Athens: Angeliki Hatzimihali Foundation 2006
  • Xenia Politou, Aegeas AMKE Curator of Modern Greek Culture, BENAKI MUSEUM, ‘CLOSE UPS: The Karpathos chemise - Benaki Museum,’ online video
Collection
Accession Number
346-1886

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record createdJanuary 30, 2007
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