To Hold Your Heart in Your Teeth: The Visual Language of the Romanian Blouse
Set Margins' Publications, 2024
A lovingly designed and scrupulously researched social history of the traditional Romanian blouse.
Made by generations of women, the folk garment of the Romanian blouse secured its language despite eons of fierce changes. Author Simona Bortis-Schultz creates a cultural-historical biography of the blouse, from Neolithic beginnings in northeastern Romania and western Ukraine, through the period of folk revival, the Communist era and the post-Communist emigration out of the region. Design, location, colors and their semiotic significance relay the elements of a deliberate communication carried forth by women through enduring craft from prehistory to today. The Romanian proverb “to hold your heart in your teeth” means to move forward bravely despite fear. The book is an homage to generations of resilient women: honoring the design qualities of this feminine fortitude and the garment they made to survive.