Montenegrin national costume: one of the most beautiful in Europe!

Montenegrin female costume
Me in a national costume

Wow! This is always the first reaction of people when they see our tall men and women dancing in beautiful national costumes. I have noticed their admiration, traveling around the world as member of local folklore group. This is not surprising, having in mind that our national costume is considered to be one of the most beautiful and most expensive in Europe.

Made from high quality materials, combined with silk and golden treads, in bright colors and very rich, it leaves strong impact on people. The price of one high quality costume in the past was equal to 3 pairs of oxen or an entire property. It was definitely the most valuable thing one could have at home. Many travelers, visiting our country in 18 and 19 century were surprised by contrast of usually very modest interior of the house, but very luxurious outfit of Montenegrin people.

The main reason for dressing so luxurious lays in Montenegrin pride. During five centuries Montenegro was fighting against powerful Ottoman Empire which has always tried to impose their way of life, their culture and tradition. People in Balkans were supposed to wear black costume without any characteristic details, but proud Montenegrin people refused this and with help of their rich costume they could show their disobedience, resistance and their belonging to Montenegro. It was sign that one would rather die than become a Turkish servant.

Montenegrin male costume
Male costume, source

The origin of the costume is also interesting. It is very old and we assume that it originally came from Crete, but during five centuries it has significantly changed, so it is quite different now from its fist version. The one to introduce this costume was medieval ruler of Montenegro, Đurađ Crnojević. People were so impressed by the beauty of the costume that they started coping his way of dressing. This became unique example in history: a model for national costume was outfit of a ruler!

Photo from site:

National costume was especially present on wedding ceremonies, visit to the church, during some state celebrations or…just as a way to show off in very day life. Till recently, it was considered an honor to be buried in this costume, so many remarkable pieces went together with their owners under the ground. Just like my great-grandmother’s costume. And just like for the most of her contemporaries, it was her last wish.

One of the most precious parts of female costume was belt, known as „ćemer“. It was frequently made of silver and decorated with precious stones. On the other hand, male costume would be hard to imagine without a pair of fancy pistols. Guns were also finely crafted in famous workshops or confiscated in battles against Turks. Sometimes decorated with precious stones, silver and mother of pearls, it was extremely expensive, but even more modest one was integral part of costume, symbolizing the way of life and love for freedom.

Female belt, part of a Montenegrin female costume
Female belt, photo:

Montenegrin hat is red in color with black ribbon around it and a state symbol in its center. Our greatest ruler, writer and philosopher Peter II Petrović Njegoš explained it like this: „red color stands for all the blood that was shed for the freedom of the country and the black color is the sign of grief for all those who gave their lives for that noble goal“.

Montenegrin hat, photo taken in Ethnographic Museum of Montenegro

Even today, there is no important date in the country, nor ceremony or festival without having beautiful couple in a national costume as a decoration. Wide smile is obligatory element and goes perfectly with this colorful costume. The tradition of sewing is passed in dressmaker’s families from one generation to the other and it takes even three months to complete a pair consisting of male and female costume.

Montenegrins still, just like their ancestors, cherish the cult of physical beauty. Just go out on the street and have a look at the parade of tall, fancy dressed people and you will be informed about latest trends in fashion. And remember – not only outfit makes us special, but a brave heart that beats under that shining surface.

Admire it one more time; photo: Bojan Kuburović






6 Replies to “Montenegrin national costume: one of the most beautiful in Europe!”

  1. Lovely description of the history associated with your national costumes. Bright and colourful – just like the Montenegrins

  2. For men, red top, blue pants and white socks with white shoes.
    The colors of the original Zeta (Serbian) Spartan Flag.

  3. Sanja: Puno hvala za ovaj odlican opis nase Crnogorske nosnje. Najljepsa I najskuplja a iz jedna prilicno siromasne drzave. Mi u inostranstvu koji smo odavno otisli od kuce (a ja prije 70 godina a rodjen sam na Cetinje 1934g.) jedva cekamo za ovakve divne stvari koje opisuju nase obicaje , vrline I ljepote. Obecala si da slijedi jos dosta ovakvih stvari. Nemoj nas prevarit. Pozdrav iz San Jose-a, California….

    1. Dragi Djoko,

      Hvala na ovom divnom komentaru i podrsci. Drago mi je sto citate blog, a obecavam jos puno zanimljivih tekstova. Malo sam pauzirala jer sam bila prezauzeta, ali uskoro pocinjem ponovo. Trudicu se da na najbolji noguci nacin predstavim nasu zemlju, a vama dam interesantno stivo za citanje. Sve najbolje i veliki pozdrav sa Cetinja

  4. Hello Sanja,
    I am going to Montenegro in this coming December. I like to take photos wearing traditional costume. I have been travelling around the world and collecting photo of people wearing traditional costumes.
    Montenegro will be my 60th or 61st country, i think.
    I just wonder whether or not i will have a chance to to see them? I know maybe to visit during the folk festival would be ideal. Do you think there is a local modeling agent, dance school or even traditiobal art university students I can contact to?

    Thank you,
    F. Widjaja

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