Questions, comments or suggestions? email me at:
Don't miss out a chance to win in our monthly "Croatianicity" t-shirt draw!
As well as our monthly Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic fridge magnet give away!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Croatians...Cravats & Ties...What's The Deal With That? You May Wonder...

*all information below is from a previous post.

Well, this one is kind of different, very different from my usual Croatia related topics. but then again, everything I add on this blog is Croatia related one way or another. Now, I'm not a suit and tie type of person, although on occasion when the situation or occasion calls for it, I do pull them out of the closet and dress it up a bit, the usual weddings, important and official stuff etc. A suit and tie being required dress for the job? Been there and done that a number of times, and even had to wear them in the military a number of times. However, probably few people out there know about the interesting origins of today's now very common necktie (tie, cravat, kravata..) so I figure I'll fill people in...

Tying a cravat/necktie on a statue of James Joyce in Pula.

......It all started when Croatian women, as a sign remembrance to their men, who were soldiers being sent to fight in the Thirty Years War in the 17th century, would tie around their loved ones' necks before going off to the battlefields, knotted tokens of their love and mementos to wear. After the Battle of Rocroi (19 May 1643), there were many foreign paid regiments in the French service already since 1635, including 3 Croatian regiments who were officially honoured and received under the name of "Régiment Royal Cravates", founded on August 13, 1643. The 1st commander was the German Count Jean de Balthazard from Rheinland, who entered the French service around the same time as the Croatian soldiers. After that, the commander became Comte de Vivonne on 1 January 1657. However, the cravat wearing Croats were already becoming noticed in the 1630's while part of the Habsburg armies, some arrived as paid merceneries during the reign of Louis XIII, a time when the French King seeked outside volunteers help in putting an end to uprisings and rebellions within France.

This particular series of events in France started when the next French King Louis XIV sent 6,000 French troops to the Austrian Empire in 1664 to assist in the war against the attacking muslim Ottoman forces and their Serbian volunteer allies coming from the Sanjak of Smederevo (known as the Battle at Szentgotthárd in today's western Hungary during the centuries of Habsburg-Ottoman wars and simultaneous Croatian-Ottoman wars). The Habsburg army consisted of Austrian and German forces, Czech musketeers from Bohemia, French brigades, approx. 2,000 Croatian cavalry, a Piedmontese regiment and a few hundred Hungarian infantry). After victory and the following lull in fighting and temporary Peace of Vasvár was signed, the French commanders were then in the vicinity of the northern Croatian town of Čakovec and there met the noble, military leader and Ban/Viceroy of Croatia Nikola Zrinski, there they talked about the possibility of co-operation and adding some new Croatian troops into the French army. After France entered the Thirty Years' War (1618 - 1648), its army was lacking in numbers of mobile cavalry such as the Croats fighting as part of the Habsburg forces and they were impressed with their battlefield accomplishments and successes. When in 1667 the last contingents of soldiers and paid recruits arrived in Paris, the "Régiment Royal Cravates" was then officially re-organized. The regiment since its beginnings was so highly positioned in the French army that three of its first seven commanders became French army Marshals.

(Interestingly as a sidenote, as Zrinski's name became famous and praised throughout Europe after his actions against the Ottomans, it was said that "only the Zrinski's had the secret of conquering the Ottoman Muslims". At the coronation of Ferdinand IV of Austria, King of the Germans, King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia, he carried the sword of state, and was made Ban (Viceroy) and Captain-General of Croatia, in this double capacity he presided over many Croatian Parliament Diets. Holy Roman Emperor Leopold offered him the title of Prince, while Pope Alexander VII struck a commemorative medal with the effigy of Zrinski as a field marshal, the Spanish King Philip IV sent him the Order of the Golden Fleece, and the mentioned French King Louis XIV sent a gift of 10,000 thalers and even created him a Peer)

So the term "Cravate" during that time simply meant "Croat", or the adjective "Croatian", and the tied scarves worn around the neck by the Croatian soldiers was named after them. Only when Louis XIV, the most prominent French ruler of that time, began to wear a cravat/tie, did it become an official fashion that was soon accepted by other monarchs, royal courts and countries as well. He at first simply referred to it as "a la Croate” which meant "the Croatian way", and so that term "cravate" stayed in the Croatian language as "kravata" which is also the Croatian word for the tie.

There's a lot more information about this subject on the internet, so I just picked someone else's article to elaborate. I left some links too. If you are one of those people who regularly don the tie, next time you're standing in front of your mirror (or not) trying to get that knot just perfect, you can recall the history of the tie, and why you're wearing it. If anything, (to me anyway) it's just one of those interesting facts you come across, you learn something new everyday.





Croatia credited for modern day fashion accessory


Dads, if you're wondering who to thank or blame for the necktie you received for Father's Day, look toward Croatia, the birthplace of the modern necktie.

The tale of the tie, a story known by every Croatian, is nothing less than a saga of war and romance, of French kings and English kings, of dashing soldiers and even more dashing fashionistas. It would make a terrific movie script.

A cravat tied around the Arena in Pula, Croatia during "Cravat Day".

In downtown Zagreb, the statue of the 19th century Croatian Ban/Viceroy Josip Jelušić during "Cravat Day".

In a nutshell, the necktie evolved from a type of scarf worn by Croatian soldiers in the early 17th century. According to folk tradition, before a soldier set off for war, his girlfriend or wife or loved one would bestow upon him a narrow scarf to wear tied around his neck to remind him of her love.

 The "Changing of the Guard" at the old town main square in Zagreb.


Nikola Solic/Reuters.

Around 1635, France hired thousands of these new knotted scarf-wearing Croatian mercenaries to help out with the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). By 1650, French king Louis XIV caught sight of these jaunty neckerchiefs that only the Croats were wearing and fell for them, from then on he started wearing one himself. Voila, a new fashion accessory was born. The French called the knotted scarf  "a la Croate", meaning worn "in the Croatian way." The term soon evolved into the word "cravat, a word that's remained a synonym for the neckwear to this day.

Meanwhile, King Charles II of England had been in exile in France during this time. He too though became much charmed by the Croatian knotted scarves. So, when he was allowed to return home, he scurried back to England with his own cravats. And from there, the fashion took off around Europe and the world.

A bunch of school kids in Dubrovnik taking part in "Cravat Day". Image:

Statue of famous nobleman and Croatian Renaissance poet and humanist writer Marko Marulić in the city of Split, Croatia on "Cravat Day".

Famous Croatian poet Ivan Gundulić from the City of Dubrovnik on the Croatian Kuna currency banknote. Gundulić died the same year when the French emperor Louis XIV was born and a number of portraits from his time also show a version of the later popularly known Cravat.

Sure, various kinds of neckwear can be found much further back in time, cottons or linens wrapped around the shoulders and neck of various lengths and sometimes even tied or pinned to keep from falling, dating to the ancient Egyptians, Chinese and Romans, there's even an article mentioning sources from the early common era about African tribes hanging various tied bones and feathers around their necks, but it's definitely pushing the envelope to consider that as an early tie (heck maybe even back to Cro-Magnon and Stone Age days except they were probably made of fur). However according to most accurate sources, the modern necktie as we know it and how it looks like today, the now familiar single hanging cloth from a tied knot around the neck, can be traced as originating in Croatia and was made especially popular by those 17th century Croatian soldiers.

The popular store "Croata" in downtown Zagreb, Croatia.

As versed as residents are in the story of the tie, it's difficult to find a scarf or necktie made in the country. Most scarves I saw in Croatia were made in India. However, a local woman directed me to Croata, a chain of boutiques, for locally made ties and scarves.

I found one of the boutiques in Zadar, a town film director Alfred Hitchcock said had the world's best sunsets. Thing is, a great sunset kept me from reaching that Croata shop until moments before it was to close.

At the Croata shop in Split, you don't even need to read the sign to know you've come to the right place. The door sports a bronze handle in the shape of a necktie.

A short Cravat documentary.

* Croatian - Kravata
* Czech - Kravata
* Danish - Kravat
* English - Cravat
* Filipino - Korbata
* Finnish - Kravatti
* Flemish - Krawaat
* French - Cravate
* German - Krawatte
* Irish - Carabhat
* Italian - Cravatta
* Polish - Krawat
* Romanian - Cravata
* Slovakian - Kravata
* Spanish - Corbata
* Swedish - Kravatt
* Turkish - Kravat
* Ukrainian - Kravata
* Welsh - Crafat

Later in 1791 the 10th régiment de cavalerie was also created, composed mainly of the cavalry regiment created in 1643 under the name régiment Royal-Cravates cavalerie, then re-organized again in 1803 as the 10th régiment de cuirassiers with their official regiment insignia seen below. (this particular official regiment insignia brass and enamel medal pin was manufactured by the famous Paris designer Claude Arthus-Bertrand in 1803, he also designed and manufactured the medal for the Legion of Honour which is still even today the highest French order of merit for military and civil merits)

How the Cravat came into fashion. 

Inside, the place is a kaleidoscope: colorful silk ties and scarves compete to catch your eye. But which one to choose? I asked the saleswoman which scarf is most like the one worn by the early Croatian soldiers. She pointed to a small red neckerchief in silk. Then she handed me a Croata postcard that showed a drawing of a 17th-century Croatian soldier wearing a knoted red scarf.

The Croata company takes neckties seriously, and company co-founder Marijan Busic is determined to tell the world that neckties originated in Croatia. To that end, in 1997, he set up Academia Cravatica, a nonprofit institute for the study of the necktie, based in Croatia's capital of Zagreb. For his efforts, he was honored in 2000 by the Croatian National Tourist Board for his work to promote the cravat as a Croatian heritage and contribution to the later global and fashion culture.

A brief history of the cravat/modern necktie. (In Croatian)

Footage of the "Cravat Regiment" during the Changing of the Guard in Zagreb.

The following few pics are from my 2011 stay in Zagreb. At the old town main square there was quite a few tourists, Asian tourists especially for some reason, (probably the Chinese and Japanese restaurants that have been opening up there recently), who found the main ceremony very interesting because they were taking even way more photographs than me.

The Many Faces Of The Cravat/Necktie

School children pose in front of a 10-meter long cravat during the International Cravat Day celebrations in Zagreb, capital of Croatia, on Oct. 18, 2012. Cravat is said to originate from the red scarves worn by Croatian soldiers in the 17th century. (Xinhua/Miso Lisanin) Photo gallery:


I also thought I would add these few photos. It just goes to show that because wearing a tie doesn't automatically equate the person wearing it with being conservative, stuffy, conformist, prudish, week, a pushover, a yellow bellied punk ass pussy or a squeaky clean clerk type etc. (And definitely not a Mormon, Jehovah's Witness or televangelists, they've been trying to ghoulishly usurp the cravat/necktie history and tie fashion as strictly their own domain over the years, in effect insulting and detracting from it's original highly esteemed and exalted origins and meaning, it's disgusting and fashion terrorism basically). It also shows that ties are not the exclusive property of business types, politicians, bankers and front desk people etc. Au contraire, sometimes nothing could be further from the truth. And thankfully, we should be grateful that the 17th century Cravat Regiment wore the knotted fashionable hanging supplementary clothing additions that they did, and not the later 19th century Ascot version tie, (which can still be called a cravat also but were/are much stuffier, cover the whole neck, are much wider and tucked in and just way less cool looking), otherwise today many people would be wearing an ascot everyday. Here's just a few examples.....

The next 4 photos show that even Serb genocidal maniac war criminals and mass rape supporters prefer to wear a tie for special occasions. More genocidal Serbs in some pretty nifty looking ties/cravats HERE.

This bonus pic of Vladimir and Pribina during the Zagreb Film Festival though would have been an ideal time to wear a tie, I think so anyway.

Featured post

And The Croatian City To Be A European Capital of Culture In 2020 Will Be...(Drum Roll).....Rijeka

Yep, I know it's still 2 years away and I already covered this topic last year when it was announced, but I added a few extra ima...