The Has region in Kosovo is known for the traditional, elaborate clothing
that many women wear, particularly for special occasions. The tradition has been
preserved for generations, but the detailed outfits are rarely used in daily
life because they are impracticable and expensive.
The costumes became a distinctive trait to the Has region as men, in the
past, were forced to travel long distance for work. Women preserved their unique
costumes in order to maintain their regional identity and traditions.
Each of the traditional costumes includes 20 pieces, all which are made by
a single person on a loom. Production of a single set can take six
Looms allow garment-makers to use both hands and feet to stitch the cloth
and create elaborate designs. Xhemile Shatri, one of the few women still making
the garments in Has, earns 2,000 to 3,000 euros on each outfit, depending on
the content of the material.
Shatri said she spends four to five hours a day working the loom. No one
can assist her or take over the work that she begins, as the differences in the
artists’ work would be obvious.
The Has costumes are most commonly seen at celebrations, such as weddings.
The amount of ornamentation signifies the wearer’s status; a predominance of red
indicates that the wearer, or someone in her family, has a particularly
significant position in society.
The marhama, a head cover, is a part of the garment produced on the loom.
It covers one’s head but not the face. Together with other parts, it’s difficult
to wear and hold without some experience.
The scarf is a piece embroidered on a small loom, the same way as the head
cover. Each scarf is characterised by a flower in the middle against a black
background and additional flowers along the edge.
Girls’ traditional costumes are less elaborate and don't include
embroidered scarves or as many detailed decorations.
Costumes can also be worn for everyday wear, although those outfits have
less color and decoration. A woman in mourning will wear a dark
Fetije Çoçaj, the mother of seven daughters, wore traditional garments for
more than 20 years. She still believes that traditional clothes are healthier
and more practical for women in Has.
Older women say the garments provide better protection for the body. The
flat, wooden plank in the waist enables women to carry heavy items comfortably,
“which is so important in our hard life with many duties,” explained Hanife
Qenaj of Has.
Though her family encouraged her to stop wearing heavy, complicated
traditional outfits, Qenaj refused. "If I got out of wearing modern costumes, I
would feel naked," she said. Qenaj says wearing traditional dress makes her feel
better and she will continue dressing that way.