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Poukamiso (Chemise)

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

Poukamiso (chemise), linen crepe embroidered with silk in some areas, square sleeves. Tent stitching around the neck consisting of small blossom forms called Staphylato or grape pattern (dominant colour red, alternating with blue and green).

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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Linen crepe embroidered with silks
Brief Description
Poukamiso (chemise), linen crepe embroidered with silk, Greek-Orthodox community of the island of Karpathos or possibly the island of Kassos, the Dodecanese, Greece, late eighteenth century to early nineteenth century
Physical Description
Poukamiso (chemise), linen crepe embroidered with silk in some areas, square sleeves. Tent stitching around the neck consisting of small blossom forms called Staphylato or grape pattern (dominant colour red, alternating with blue and green).



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
    Object history
    This poukamiso (chemise) is made from linen crepe embroidered with silk in some areas. It was produced on Karpathos or possibly Kassos, islands 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.





    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.
    Associated Objects
    Bibliographic Reference
    Xenia Politou, Aegeas AMKE Curator of Modern Greek Culture, BENAKI MUSEUM, ‘CLOSE UPS: The Karpathos chemise - Benaki Museum,’ online video
    Collection
    Accession Number
    348-1886

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    record createdJune 24, 2009
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