12 February 2013
A passion for the tracht
We met Clara Castlunger Valentin in her home in San Martino in Badia. Clara was born in San Martino on 6 April 1946 and for more than thirty years she has been making traditional costumes for both the musical bands in the town and the Union of traditional dress.
Clara, where did your passion for the tracht come from?
In 1982 I did a course to learn how to sew a tracht. I was very enthusiastic: for me making these clothes means being able to carry on an ancient tradition that dates back at least 250 years. As a seamstress, sewing has always been an important part of my life, and a great passion. Making a tracht is hard work, but offers great satisfaction; sometimes I make them entirely by hand, and it takes 20,000 stitches.
How has the tracht developed over time?
Many years ago the cloths used for the tracht were all hand-made. The process was very complex: you began in autumn shearing the sheep, then you sowed the linen and then processed it to extract the yarn. Today trachts are made using industrial cloth, but the procedure is equally complex. Linen is used for the shirt, the apron is dyed dark blue and the bodice cloth red , and the sleeves are crocheted. Once the cloth belt, today dyed red, was embroidered. In the winter the tracht is completed with an onion-shaped hat (in Ladin, “ciuria da pozi”), but in summer the hat is lighter. Socks are strictly white, and the metal belt must be made by a blacksmith.
Is there a union dedicated to the tracht?
In 2005 the union of traditional dress was founded (in Ladin “Uniun guant da zacan”), I am a member and every year as a group we take part in various traditional events and festivals. We all proudly wear the tracht and even the young girls in the group show great interest in the traditional costumes.
What does your work mean to you?
Keeping a tradition alive is very important, contributing to maintaining our culture fills me with joy. I am also satisfied when I see all the trachts I have made in a performance, and how they are neatly worn.
The tracht - Is a traditional costume worn by the Ladins to go to mass on Sunday. It belonged mostly to the well-off, and those who couldn't afford it wore farmers' clothes (“guant da paur”). The women kept a fork and spoon tucked in the belt just in case they were invited to lunch.