National costume

Traditional clothing, and attitudes towards it, can provide us with clues about the history, geography and heritage of a nation. In some parts of the world, national dress is an unofficial uniform, to be worn only on ceremonial occasions, but in some nations, traditional clothing is compulsory. What can we learn about a nation from its costume? What is the story behind it? What are people’s attitudes towards it and how accurately (or otherwise) does it represent the nation’s people? What messages do the national costumes you have studied seek to convey about a nation to its people and the wider world?

Use some of the following sources, and carry out your own research, to find out more about different interpretations of your own nation’s traditional costume and the folk costumes of the other nations you have chosen to study. As you explore, think about how accurate you consider these interpretations of your own nation’s costume to be, and whether, therefore, how accurate you might consider them to be in presenting those of other nations.

Consider these questions:

Capture some thoughts:

Save an image of your national costume (ready for the summary activity at the end of this section) and make some notes about the costumes of each of the countries you are studying on the Symbols of National Identity worksheet.

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