National Costumes

At present the Karaims do not wear their national costumes in every day life. Nowadays the old examples are carefully kept in museums as historical relics – some of them you can see in Trakai Historical Museum, Castle exposition and Karaims ethnographic exhibition.

The modern costumes were self-made after the old ones and photos of them. In 1989 in Trakai at a First International Karaim Congress most of girls and boys were already wearing them.

Karaim girls in national costumes
“Kyrcha” – an obligatory element of the costume

National costume of a Karaim woman is made up of a long or a semi-long skirt, white blouse, embroidered velvet jacket without buttons with wide sleeves to the elbows, called kyrcha and a flat, round velvety cap, decorated with beads and coins. One could wear a dress, sometimes a patterned one, instead of the skirt and blouse. Sometimes a light kerchief can be put on the cap.

An obligatory element of the costume remains kyrcha. It could be made from dark red, brown, green or blue velvet and had to be embroidered with golden thread in a rather intricate pattern of plants or geometric ornament. Luxurious metal decorations – coin beads or solid decorations used to be worn as well.

Karaim man in national costume

The costume for a man consisted of a rather long striped gown, girded with a belt or a kerchief and a rather high dark red cap (fes) having the form of the cut cone and with a tassel.

In the descriptions of various travelers there is noticed that Crimean Karaims preserved their national costumes longer. In Trakai the Karaims stopped wearing them already in XVIII century. The decorative elements of the clothes (by the oriental custom only those of plants and geometrical ones) were similar to the Crimean Tatars’ clothes. But the researches have discovered that the painting style of such ornaments by Karaims and Tatars is quite different.