Between the Middle Ages and Modern Age

Despite the fact that in Italy the way of thinking was changing which has marked-down also the architecture, art as well the way of dressing; the humanism and Rennaissance were coming very gradually. In the first half of the 15th century the clothes of previous century persisted still; just in the courtly milieu they could have a more extravagant form. Especially the trails, shoes, hats and bonnets became the very objects of pompous representation and aesthetical whimsies. In milieu of aristocracy and nobility, which were coming into contact with the court, also more extravagant forms of clothes were incurring as we know them from courtly milieu of France, Italy or Bohemia.

Expansion of Osmanli textile and clothing culture by means of Venetian region but probably also the direct military invasion of Ottomans into the Europe were provocating also new trends in the clothing. Throughout the 15th century and in Hungary also 16th century a vogue of various headgears reminding some Oriental turbans and headscarves has being boomed.

Renaissance novelties were coming but in the second half of the 15th century and they coexisted still with the medieval clothing habits. A distinctive lacing on front part of the clothes but also on sleeves shows up gradually on the female clothes. In the 15th century also the way of constructing the dresses is gradually changing; they commence to be cut onto two parts, in particular, the upper part is formed by the cut– the bodice and separately the bottom part i.e. skirt and they are subsequently sewn-together into the whole of the dress. It makes it possible to manufacture a more close-fitting upper part of the dress and a more massive skirt. Fig. XX In Italy in the 15th century the production of soft cottons with the pile – of velours (of velvets ) made itself perfect in the contemporary sources form our territory being designated  as acsamites. They have been adorned particularly with floral motives of large-repeat compositions in particular with a motive of pomegranate or pine cone. At an official portrait of Sigmund Luxembourg, of Czech and Hungary King, of Roman Caeser we see that he has clothes of a late medieval type but it is sewn-up from already Rennaisance Italian fabric. He, as well as the crowned King of Lombardy, had possibilities to procure the famous velvets from Florence, Genoa or Venice.

From the 15th century we have the preserved more numerous written monuments bringing mentions also about contemporary clothes. They are documenting the fact that the clothes were inherited in the milieu of nobility on our territory. Namely the fabrics had the greatest value on the clothes, however, also embroidered clothes and clothing jewels have been appreciated. Also a clothing dictionary could be compiled on the basis of analyses of the written sources from the 15th century. With regard to the fact that especially the Latin language was the written language Latin names are prevailing; also the designations in language of the country from where they originate then Italian, German or French ones are occurring at the new types of clothes. The term tunic could designate various types of the clothes also outer dresses (marked as cotton or purple ones) but also bottom clothes (flax tunic). The outer dresses and also topcoats could be denominated as reverendas, stragulas (strangula). Mantles of pelerine type were steadily worn and they were probably called paenula, toga, palium, mantel; pellicium (fur pelerine). The greatcoat overcoats then with sleeves could be reverendas, long sleeves sheepskin coats , dolmans. Some camisia, camisa terms could designate bottom shirts, tunics. The belts with metal components were used to be designated as cingulas and textile bands as baltheum. The notion sotulares denominated the all-shoes and calceum the sandals. In the sources the word capution is used, maybe a cowl, in many a case it has been necessary to use almost two metres of cloth for its consumption so as it could concern also an arranged turban-like headgear (chaperon). The cap was designated as cappa. Shorter coats were designated as ioppa, bambusium. The headbands were an important object of inheriting and they were designated as crinale. The velvet (aksamite) being interlaced with gold threads is denominated already in written sources as gold brocade and with silver threads as silver brocade. It was used to be described at the descriptions of precious fabrics which pattern is situated on the cloth, and so we learn that they used the fabrics adorned with flowers and lions or with letters and trees. It could be a question of not the velvets/velours but also of napless fabrics lampases, samitumes/hexamitumes, taqueté. They were produced in China,  in Central Asia countries, Persia, in Middle East, in Byzantium but their knowledge came also into the Europe, and namely thanks to Arabs, into Italian Luccy or into Maori Spain.

Some testaments are bringing information about the thing that the stragula had a sleeve of another colour. The liking to use another colour or also fabrics within one clothes is connected with expanded culture of family colours which were used in the escutcheons but also on the clothes. The clothes were segmented not only on the cutting surfaces but also on the coloured ones. So that the clothes on the left side have been of another colour than on the right one; it has being used on the outerwear, on basic clothes: on dresses, trousers also on headgears. The owner of clothes was demonstrating fidelity to the family tradition also in such way.  

Production of clothes with complicated cut which are close-fitting onto the figure, rise of typologically heterogeneous clothing accessories, their mannered extravagant form, sophisticated fabrics, handbags on the waist and so like have being asked for an existence of specialized craftsmen who could manufacture their products with processional skilfulness in the spirit of new trends from abroad. Within the craftsmen who in the  15th century took part in production of textiles, clothes and clothing accessories we know those for production of textiles: weavers, fustian weavers (production of „bakachines”), abroad „samitiers” (production of silk fabrics, lampas, samitumes) and „veludiers” (production of hair fabrics, velvets/aksamites”), drapers „pozamentiers” (production of narrow laces, cords, buttons, fringes); „tailors” became differentiated in big cities to producers of hats, coats, trousers; bag- makers and glovers were processing leather; hatters did the same as for the felt and textiles; shoemakers did so with leather but also with the textile for shoes; embroiderers have decorated the clothes by various techniques of embroideries ; goldsmiths manufactured the jewels on clothes. These suppliers were presenting an important basis for the history of clothing not only from the viewpoint of production of aesthetical forms processed fully professionally in a craftsman-like way but they have played-up an important role in accepting and handing-over the novelties then of changes which took part in the development of clothing habits and changes of fashion. Excepting some written sources from the territory of Slovakia from the 14th and 15th centuries we know also the monuments of the creative arts but particularly of religious character. It concerns wall and table paintings as well as sculptor´s decoration in sacral architecture. Thereby they present a certain, namely restricted source for a study of clothing culture but despite this also a period clothing culture is reflected undoubtedly in them. The important thing is to read” the clothes, textiles and clothing accessories from the point of view of their symbolic meaning on them. From secular environment we know already illuminated picture chronicles for example the Vienna chronicle from the 14th century or Chronicle of John of Turiec from the 15th century.

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Clothing in the 14th century in sign of making- perfect of cut and slim figure

In the development of clothing the 14th century presented a period of rise of many kinds of dresses thereby it was coming to a magnifying the variability their forms only in the 15th century when many of them acquired extravagant forms. In the 14th century more heterogeneous male and female coats have arisen; the scarves with women (till now chastely covering up the head, neck and nape) were getting more cunning shapes. Female bonnet-like high headgears have appeared and the hats of diverse shapes did so likewise with men. Since the half of the 14th century a change came about in the male fashion: the clothes were distinctively shortened and more types of short skin-tight coats (ioppa, “kurtka”) had arisen. So the men were leaving their legs being visible; up to then they have been covered-up under some long dress clothes.

Into the Hungary also other habits from courtly society have penetrated also by means of a new dynasty on the Hungarian throne, of the dynasty of Anjous. The contacts with Bohemians have equally mediated the Luxembourg and French courtly etiquette. Also the form of clothes has changed under an influence of making-perfect of production within the guild organization. Close-fitting clothes constructed on the basis of geometry of the cut have started to be manufactured; not as till now by a form of the even cuts and extending wedges. The Europeans familiarized themselves by means of the trade but also via Crusades with luxury goods of the Orient; not excluding clothes and textiles. Women in Arabic countries have worn skin-tight clothes, the long ground-deep falling sleeves, high rigid hat headgears and these were getting as a new fashion also onto the European royal courts. In the 14th century the skin-tight female dresses/tunics indicating the curves of female body were worn. A guillotine neckline was even favourite which discovered the neck, nape, till shoulders. The sleeves of the frock (lady´s dress) have reached up to the ground and they were stretched-away beyond the figure. On the heads some higher headgears were started themselves to form; sooner still like scarves under which some high laid-under hairdos and bonnets could be. A scarf was yet laid onto them. Wealthy women and men have worn laminated completes; their upper part has been cut-out so to discover the bottom layer (from Fr. cotte and sucotte or from Lat. tunic and supertunic) . Protruding corners, spikes, bands which made optically the owner higher and they lent majesty him.

Many Hungarian noblemen took part in diverse journeys where they became acquainted with exotic products and they got acquainted the period taste (“sophistication”). Also silk fabrics have been such luxury goods. In the 14th century their price fell moderately because the production centres from Front Asia were extended into the Northern Italy (Lucca, Venice) and Spain where the Moors have formed them up and maintained politically dominating to the Pyrenean peninsula. The silk fabrics with woven-out figural patterns with gold and silver threads have presented some of the most valuable period commodities.

On the territory of Slovakia only barchets and bakachines from the most standard fabrics were manufactured in guild of barchetars. Also the wall paintings from the territory of Slovakia are documenting them as well as the findings of the bakachines alone. The cotton has delivered a higher price on the market to these about 45 – 50 cm wide fabrics which has been an exotic material in Europe. Also Armenian merchants from Asia were bringing it onto the territory of Slovakia. Similar utility textiles we can see also on the wall also table paintings in other countries. The liking of white fabrics with dyed woven-out patterns has penetrated into the whole Europe from Italy concretely from Umbria Perugia or Tuscan Arezza.

Granting of city privileges made the status of townspeople stronger from which already a strong social class was becoming. Organization of craft and trade has been dominant domains in the towns. The economic and political development of the towns brought also a cultural boom manifesting itself in building activity and in lifestyle of townsmen. Rebuilding and rise of new churches were bringing a development of Gothic art. The clothing of rich townsmen of German, Slovak and Hungarian origin has followed the trends in nobleman´s clothes. The towns have presented also centres of production and sale of such clothes. The guild craftsmen who have collected experience from the European towns within journeyman´s errands have been mediators of new cuts, production procedures and of decorations of clothes. Although the rich townsmen but also craftsmen in the towns have imitated the fashion trends in clothing they could not dress as the nobility. They imitated especially new cuts of clothes as materials, however, some extravagant details on the clothes like trails, tails (or corners) and long sleeves have not been worn by them also from that reason that such clothes has been impractical. Excepting that fact”lordly” ordinances did exist, in which it was appointed what is forbidden to wear to the townspeople. The aristocracy has strengthened itself privileged status in such way.

In the second half of the 14th century it came to a more distinctive change in male clothes. It passed trough from the long tunic clothes onto a combination of short close-fitting coat (ioppa, kurtna) and pantihose  up to the waist (caligae). On these clothes the rich men have worn yet effect monumental topcoats, reverendas/stragulas, being sewn-up of expensive fabrics, for winter quilted and bordered by furs. They could be girded with distinctive belt in the waist or be only freely flowing ones.

With a favour of skin-tight clothes with men also with women an attention began to be paid, and namely to buttons, thanks to which the tight clothes got onto the body and they were closed onto it. The richest people had themselves entire garnitures onto their clothes manufactured: onto front fastening and onto sleeves.

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Forming the Hungary between the East and the West

The clothing on the territory of Slovakia found itself in period of the early Middle Ages under influence of more pagan also of Christian, ethnically Slovak and non-Slovak factors. Original Slovak population passed through a gradual Christianization which was bringing also a new view at dressing. The Christianized population also in other parts of Europe crossed through to long clothes then to long tunics, and namely especially the ruler´s male class which did not wear long clothes till then. Short tunics have been preferred by men for the fight but the long clothes were gradually becoming a formal dress. Women, particularly those married ones, have worn under influence of a new ideology the chastely being veiled head, neck and the bottom part of face. The Christianity brought in a prudishness manifesting itself by shrouding the body into the clothing customs. The reigning elite has been still steadily influenced by Byzantine culture. Luxurious items e.g. also cotton fabrics had their original just in Byzantium.

The ancient Hungarian tribes had other way of life also clothing in the time of their arrival on the territory of the Slavs.  It is possible to see a parallel to their clothes at other nomadic ethnic groups from Asia. They knew trousers protecting at riding; they have worn coats called kaftans girded in the waist with textile belts which strengthened the trunk at riding. The nomadic tribes have been joined also by the access to the property „worn on themselves” as various types of jewels. It means that their clothes have been sewn-up with metal appliqués, and these have been used, as the case may be, also as a means of payment. With regard to the fact that their way of dwelling in tents did not enable a distinctive social differentiation; just the jewels on the clothes became a symbol of the status from the social point of view.  Also massive necklaces with separate components had the equal sense but also appliqués on the shoes or caps.  Those in a form of too striking hats they had to wear at riding like a head protection. Because they had to „be a perfect fit “, they preferred caps deeply set-on on the head. The clothes of tribe elite of nomads especially the kaftans could be manufactured of showy cottons because they had immediate contacts with cultures where cotton clothes have been used: for example with Scythians, Persians or Sogdians.

The new state formation Hungary established on the part of territory of Great Moravia has been by power organized by Hungarian knights with support of Slavonic elite. Štefan the first as the founder of a new empire accepted the Christianity and the Hungary became a part of the West state wholes. Imitation particularly of the West Europe but also of Byzantium became a norm for lifestyle also dressing. By a transition to Latin language in official sources the names of the clothes and clothing accessories and of clothing accessories are found in Latin transcription. In spite of that the names of the clothes of Slavonic origin were maintaining in the colloquial speech and linguistic scientists consider them for such ones for instance garment, shroud, „riza, “grzno”, shaggy coat, blouse, peasant´s shoes. They are well-known up to today´s times although for the most part already only as dialect archaisms. Up to the 13th century only a limited scale of written sources bringing more content information about clothing and textile culture from the territory of Slovakia or Hungary does exist.

The form of clothes presented a very simple cut in this period. It was a question of plain clothes it has been cut in the direction of warp or weft and with straight set-in sleeves. They began gradually to disseminate in the basic cut as well as on the sleeves with side triangular wedges. It has been the most universal form of the clothes: menswear, women´s wear and children´s wear as well clothes for poor also rich persons. In spite of a simple cut the social differences have been visible on the clothes. In a practical usage it was differentiated between bottom tunic in function of bottom wear and top tunic as upper clothes. In this period also a number of equal pieces of clothes worn on themselves signalized a difference among particular inhabitants. Richer people have worn also three tunics every in other function or of other material. The simple inhabitants called their often the only tunic riza or shroud. The upper tunic of woollen cloth they called a skirt. In this period the skirt did not designate a clothing type of today´s female skirt but a dress clothes made of cloth equally the male also female ones . Not only a material, its treatment, decorating, colourfulness have been a sign of the social distinctness. The simplest classes of population then physically working people have worn clothes of fabrics manufactured in a homely way; for winter they have worn woollen especially cloth tunics; for summer flaxen or hemp ones. Also in the female as well in male form they have been girded with textile band or a leather belt.

However, dress long clothes covering up the entire figure have been not the only clothes used by nobility but also by wider population for example in the time of winter. For protecting the legs „trousers“ were used but not of today´s type. The leg has been protected from beneath similarly as in the case of today´s pantihose or of half-hoses i.e. it was shoed on the sole of the foot and it was pulled-out under or over knee where it was fixed-up with lacing i.e. suspender belt. The “trousers“ were sewn for winter of woollen fabrics for summer of flax, hemp; the more luxury ones also of cotton fabrics. The existence of knitted forms has been probably rather with the common people. Such „trousers“ could be fixed to the legs by straps of shoes (of sandals, by moccasins) or also by lacings and those could be also very decorative. Also foot-rags and tip bunches were used i.e. the lacings by which the leg was twined-around and it protected this one from the knee towards to the sole of the foot. Second type of the trousers has been presented by underpants, and these have protected the crotch and thighs. With regard to this that it concerned a type of underwear they were sewn particularly of linen and they were not tinted-with a dyestuff. They had a form of threading trousers with a slash in the front, with shorter or longer pipes onto the legs or a form of arranged triangular scarf tied-up in the waist.

The headscarves have been a substantial clothing part of women especially of the married ones. In the time of the 10th to 13th centuries the bonnets or hats did not still exist as a part of the European women´s wear. Also showy headgears well-known from monuments of plastic arts, particularly of illuminations and later also of table or wall paintings are manufactured of simple forms: of quadrangular textiles or with rounded-up edges. However, they are interesting by their way of winding-around, laying and fixing onto the head. More sophisticated procedures required two also three scarves or belts which were laid onto the head. The simplest scarf for use was the one placed onto the head towards from behind forward has been, as the case may be, from above fixed-up by headband. The more complicated thing has been a way of the head arrangement with the covering-up of not only of upper part of the head but also of lower one, of beard and neck. The beard finish acted more craftily with the leaving of a bare neck. The winding-up way of the arrangement of head and neck has beencommonly used in the time of the top Middle Ages also at royal courts and in the milieu of nobility. In the 14th and 15th centuries when a broader range of headgears based on the cut and hard form will begin to come into existence an enrolling the head will become an archaic form and this one will prevail in milieu of townspeople, countryside population and of nuns.

A cowl as a part of coat or as separate accessories has been the most widely used headgear with the men. It had a simple cut coming out equally like clothing components from a form of simple geometrical shapes. Also a cap fitting closely and bordering  the head was worn. They manufactured it of fabric or felt with the aid of wooden form.

Quadrangle scarves either of flaxen linen or of wool served in less wealthy milieu as an outerwear. Also woollen topcoats cut-trough in the front lengthwise were worn. It concerned an influence of Hungarian and later also of other Asian nomads which have settled-down on the territory of Hungary. Coats of pelerine type were probably worn by more wealthy inhabitants. They have been symmetrically laid onto the figure, in German called mantel; those that had a cowl they designated in Latin language also as pluvial or capa. Also asymmetrical coats still of ancient type have being persisted. In written sources from the 12th and 13th centuries they are designated like paenulas, pallium, toga. In winter they favoured fur coats, “krznos” of various forms; in the Latin designations it could concern pellisons.

The shoes were worn among higher class all year long. The more complicated forms particularly from decorated leather: of painted, stamped alternatively of gilded leathers have been products of shoemakers especially from Byzantium or Arabic countries. In environment from here the cobblers could work on, sew up and adorn the leather by the beating-in. The shoes could be also the textile ones.

Between the rural population but also inhabitants of towns a home production of the clothes also accessories have functioned.

Slovak elite and nobility, which have played-out an important role at forming the Hungarian Kingdom, knew also more luxury clothing products. Especially the men during military expeditions or as part of sovereign voyages have acquainted with exotic goods or products generating in the centres of their production. Slovak lineages (families) Hont, Poznan, Bebek, Diviacky´s, Dônč, Podmanický and so on, could afford not only the products of superior quality of local master tailors, shoemakers, weavers but also imported clothes and accessories. Up to the 13th century the Byzantine products also their cotton fabrics have been some luxurious imports. Also Persian and Arabic cotton fabrics but also from other Asian countries have been equally appreciated. The most luxury ones have been particularly those with woven-out vegetal and figural patterns. In foreign period sources they are designated like samitumes, taqueté, lampases. Manufacturing of entire clothes, tunic or coat of these fabrics could be afforded only by the richest noblemen. They were utilized also as decorative borders at the neck opening, on sleeves and on the bottom hem of various clothes. Also one-coloured cotton fabrics but also the French, Dutch, English or Italian cloths were highly appreciated. Also cotton fabrics being imported from Italy and Orient have been expensive cloths in this time. They were used for veils and headscarves.

Differentness between woollen and linen clothes has been caused by their colour, quality of tinting respectively. Homely tinted clothes had not such heavy and particularly not long-lasting hues as when the clothes have been coloured by an already professional craftsman, a dyer. The quality of dyeing has been connected with a type of dyestuff and with using the chemical natural fixatives. It depended on quantity of dyestuff used and on the length of fabric dyeing.  The depth of colour and its washfastness; fastness after sun exhibition and fastness to abrading have been important factors of quality of tinted fabric. The dyestuffs of vegetal or animal origin were used. Separate guilds of dyers came to existence until in the late Middle Ages because the fabrics dyeing has been secured by the guilds or workshops of drapers or weavers up to then. The fabrics were dyed for light (yellow, red, carmine) colours and for dark ones (blue, black, purple colours). Derived colours like green, orange, brown and black ones arose by their redyeing.  The green colour was achieved with redyeing the yellow fabric by blue colour and with redyeing of black-and-brown fabrics by blue colour sometimes yet also by red colour black colour shades were achieved again. The black colour shades were worn more rarely until the beginning of the 14th century rather on smaller pieces of clothes and as monastic vestments for Benedictines and Dominicans. The fashion of black colour is fused only with Burgundy court in the 15th century.

For achievement of red colour a more affordable dyer´s morena (Rubia tinctorum) or further imported more luxury carmine dyestuffs being extracted from exotic worms of insect: carmasine, crimson, carmine. Also woollen scarlets were dyed red, yellow and brown with them – also dyed purple but in the 14th and 15th centuries it came to transferring the meaning of word scarlet for marking the carmine colour.  The purple was the most luxurious dyestuff by which various colour shades of red colour are being achieved.  Sea molluscs are used for its production. The term purple has designated not only a dyestuff in the Middle Ages but it was used also for marking the colour of achieved colour shade of the fabric. However, a precise identification of such colour is not unambiguous because also various nuances from pink colour until dark reddish violet one have sprung-up according to quantity of the purple used and to the length of bucking in it. Dyer´s boryte (Isatis tinctoria), a plant growing in Europe, was used for blue cloth dyeing and with more expensive indigo plant (Indigofera tinctoria) originally from West Africa and South Asia was it so too. The white colour, which was being attained by decolouring, because natural vegetal or animal fibres in white colour did not exist, has been a special colour. Decolouring and bleaching have been processes requiring the skilfulness. Therefore white clothes for instance tunica alba or tunica  purawere very appreciated. Beige and pale grey colour shades of natural linen and hemp have prevailed in the current clothes, however, also in a simple homely procedure the cloths were bleached for example by sun drying which has pulled-out a coloured pigment from  them. So white colour has been the colour of above-standard clothes and it was used a few especially in a combination with other colours at which it has acted more whitely than it has been in reality: then with red, green, blue colours. Coloured scales differentiated for male and female ones did not exist in the Middle Ages. Only differences among social classes did exist, which were manifested in colour depth and quality of fabric colouring or in its colour matching.

Also embroideries have delivered a high value to the clothes. Cotton threads, gold and silver fibres and threads or also various appliqués, works of goldsmiths, which were sewn-to onto the clothes, were used for embroidering in that most elite milieu. The embroideries have been widespread because they imitated heavily available and expensive figured fabrics. They have been embroidered by professional master embroiderers but the embroidering has been also skilfulness which was fostered by upbringing among women of all social classes. Homely manufactured embroideries on the clothes and soft furnishings were implemented as linen, woollen threads and in noble milieu also by cotton threads. It was embroidered on frames according to a drawn-beforehand pattern whereby more complicated compositions and shapes but also „by guesstimate” according to a counted thread what has been more simply and particularly geometrical motives: circles, rosettes, swastikas, spirals, strips were used. It was embroidered directly on the clothes but the strips or also patterns appliquéd on the clothes either as hems or patterns. As it is backed-up by archaeological findings or museum artefacts in this period also the Hungarian nobility have worn the embroidered coats and tunics.

Jewels have been steadily an important part of clothing as well its functional element. Herewith that the arranged forms of coats have long persisted, for which it was necessary to fix up them onto the body by fasteners, the clasps have been constantly very widespread: hook and eye fasteners, fibulas, and scarf pins, pins for arrangement of head and scarves. Women have worn also their head decorated with jewels except for earrings also backecarrings were permanently in favour. Headbands with various ways depicted by end pieces became widespread for fixing the hairdos and veils. They have been worn by young damsels on the hairs but also by married women on the veils. And „parta”, a wider headband on head was a symbolic headdress which has been a sign of girl´s age.

They used to be more ostentatiously manufactured of precious metals and gemstones or of other materials but sepulchral stocks of archaeological findings are backed-up by also amber, bronze, horn, bone and glass. Some products of jewellers served also like appliqués onto the clothes; they have been decorating bronze small metal strips which were sewn-on onto the dresses or onto the belts: terminations, ironworks from belts, buckles. Rings and namely the shield- type ones with heraldic adornment or dome-like rings with an eyelet have been popular.

In the thirties of the 13th century the Hungarian king Belo the forth has received the Cumans, originally herdsman´s nomadic steppe nation of exotic appearance also of way of the getting dressed. It concerned pagans who, however, adapted themselves with support of king in the Hungarian kingdom. In the forties the Hungary was attacked by Tartars (Mongols) and they plundered this country. The popularity of Asian type of the dressing remained in existence thanks to Cumans settled-down in the Hungary also after departure of Tatars. They have worn slack trousers of today´s type ground-deep, coats with long overhanging sleeves in front being interspersed with from one side to the other one and fixed with large textile band. They were fond of caps of a conical shape with terminated tip. Their isolated appearance has been underlined not only by the exotic cast of features but also by the head arrangement: they were fond of the interwoven long plaits of hair.

Belo the forth has commenced to invite the craftsmen and miners from surrounding countries for a recovery of his country after Mongol invasions. Especially German colonists were coming who have brought with themselves not only a knowledge of new technologies of the extraction of ores but also craftsmanship abilities, new information, other way of the getting dressed. A new form of organizing the craftsmen into professional groupings – guilds was coming with the German colonists and also a new form of art: Gothic style started to spread. An important period of production of consumer goods came on. Also clothes, raw materials for their production, decorations and accessories were produced in the guilds. The topicality was guarded there; then certain fashion ability of form, quality of processing and materials. The guild products have been determined for more exacting population in towns as well for nobility.  We know written articles of guilds producing the clothes and textile until from the 15th century; they did exist already sooner. The guild production has played an important role in professionalization, diversification of producers and from this fact resulting quality and variegation of products. Also that contributed to the development of new clothing components in the 14th century.

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Clothing on territory of Slovakia in the Middle Ages

The Middle Ages represents a long epoch bounded by the 5th-15th centuries. Many historians have identified this age of reforms and faith as the most creative of all because it has brought culture itself, and has also become the foundation for its further development. This multi-faceted epoch also influenced the development of fashion, which underwent many changes during this period.

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Clothing in period of Slovak State


The Nazi ideology being spreading via Europe brought gradually the curtailing and extinction of the first Czechoslovak Republic because of Munich Agreement, of which consequence has been the military occupation of Bohemia and Moravia by declaration of the Protectorate (Bohemia and Moravia) and rise of the Slovak State of which status has being determined by a protective agreement with the German Reich.

Dependence of the Slovak State on Reich´s decisions had far-reaching political, economic also cultural consequences. The Slovak army was taking part in military operations of the Nazi Germany; under the pressure of Germany racial laws were receiving on territory of the Slovak State and comprehensive changes were under way in economic life. Political and civic liberties have been suppressed.      


The Hitlerian Germany had for its aim to wind up more nations and ethnic groups and it had so to be proceeded equally also on territory of Slovakia.  Already in April 1939 a decree of Slovak government issued which defined the notion „Jew“. In September 1941 so-called Judaic Codex with 270 paragraphs has issued. The trade licences have been taken-away to the Jews; their agricultural property, industrial enterprises but also house property including clothes, jewels, furniture and works of art have been confiscated. Application of racial laws in Slovakia in the practice has meant a transfer of property of Jews into hands of non-Jews –i.e. of Arians. Except for deprival of property the racial laws have forbidden to the Jews to go out into the street; to take part in public life, to visit cinemas, theatres, dance halls or cafes. The Jews obligatorily marked with yellow five-pointed stars have been the everyday image of Slovak townlets.  

The Jews on our territory throughout the centuries co-created urban character and as members of the middle and higher class took actively part also in social and cultural life of our country excepting the economic life.  Aryanization then violent expropriation of property to Jews has at the most afflicted the small-scale industry (saw mills, liqueur distilleries, ready-made clothes houses) and especially shops.

Also some reputable clothing enterprises have been wound-up from the times of the first Czechoslovak Republic by aryanization. It concerned for example the famous Bratislava firms Fashion House Tausky, Fashion house Buxbaum, Fashion House Blau and Weinberger, the firm Weiss and Fürst, department store S. Braun,  Dedeo and Löwy, male tailor Rosenzweig and many others.


Economic life under the Slovak State has been strictly managed and controlled. The most important industrial enterprises and banks were subject directly to the German management. However, Slovakia was differed from surrounding states by the fact that the inflation has been moderate with relation to war circumstances and the Slovak crown was a currency in demand. During the entire war the government has defended itself to introduce a thoroughgoing rationalisation of supplying. Only sugar, flour, bread and several next goods were rationed while in surrounding states the rationing system was bound for instance also to consumption of textiles and clothes. However, buying power of majority of population has been low although the government strived to provide the employment in more ways and so to increase the living standard.

Cotton mills in Ružomberok were the largest textile industrial enterprises in those years and same here textile mills Danubius in Bratislava, wool mills in Trenčín, Žilina and Rajec, thread mill in Bratislava and flax preparing plant in Kežmarok. Enterprises in Bánovce nad Bebravou and in Martin firm Slovenka produced knitted and woven goods: knitted fabric and tricot underwear and yard goods have been made in Banská Štiavnica by the firm Tricota (later Svetro). In Bratislava the firm Dunaj has produced knitted goods (children´s clothes, womenswear and menswear).

Under the Slovak State textile factories and mills have been distinctively marked by war. Because the import of classical textile raw materials had difficulties, the production of artificial fibres began to supersede them. In Svit at Poprad viscose cotton (svit), artificial fibre of character of wool (slovina), artificial fibre of character of cotton (svitna), transparent textile (priesvit) and artificial-silk yarn were produced of cellulose. In Bratislava a progressive enterprise for production of artificial fibre of cotton type: vistra did corne into existence also with regard to the European circumstances. Substitute artificial fibres were made also in Senica. The increase of production of artificial fibres marked also the period fashion. The dresses, blouses, night underwear, scarves were sewn from artificial cottons and the artificial wool served for production of yardage suitable for suits and costumes.

Baťa was the largest producer who in 1943 was employing 3 115 people in production of shoes, in wool processing and in the production of artificial fibre. In Šimonovany (today´s Partizánske and during the war called as Baťovany) the Baťa´s works have being finished building the production halls and new residential quarter for employees. The Baťa´s works for production of shoes have prospered also at the expense of smaller enterprises. In that time the firms for shoes production had commonly 20 to 40 employees. The shoes began to be manufactured from various substitute materials for lack of leather and in that the Baťa´s works have been very progressive. The shoes with wood half-sole were produced; upper part was combined with wool, cloth, textile yarn but also with bast. The “rolled-about” boots i.e. felt boots, and plimsolls – as shoes from coarser cloth became so fashionable. Ladies´ pumps (or court shoes) and low shoes (e.g. bootees) were made also substitute materials and from them thanks to advertisement just the firm Baťa has made a fashion trend.

More clothing works survived the disintegration of Czechoslovakia and their production persisted also during the existence of the Slovak State. They disposed of network of shops in Slovak towns and they advertised in the period print. In spite of the fact that some of them have been taken-over by the German capital, the being become used brand names persisted and the firms were furthermore employing the inhabitants of Slovakia. In Trenčín in 1939 they opened a branch of the Czech enterprise Nehera which did have to be sold-off by its owner to the German firm Hanisch, but the trademark has functioned furthermore. It was presented like a Slovak firm in the period print; it had 300 employers. In Púchov at the end of the war ready-made clothes of Czech firm Rolný have commenced to sew which persisted in Bohemia still from the Monarchy. In Hlohovec a clothing enterprise for production of topcoats and suits Sbor did exist. In Prešov new clothing enterprise Magura has been established which has worked-out itself from a small workshop to a firm with many shops in Slovakia.

The ready-made clothes houses as Nehera or Rolný had for their aim especially the mass production and they did not compare to hand-sewn tailor-made clothes by their quality. The same was valid also for the shoes. The products of the firm Baťa have been determined for lower middle class.


The made-to-measure clothes were remaining steadily the most appreciated ones. Ladies and gentlemen have furthermore their suits, shirts, costumes, dresses and blouses made with tailor. In the period print it is possible to see that more kinds of services of this type in each region of Slovakia have been. Tailor´s shops did exist, in which the master and his helpers have sewn-up the clothes according to a model, they could advice in the cut they oriented themselves also in novelties. Major tailor´s shops were further a group which were manufacturing the clothes in major measure; these some small ready-made clothes houses have been. In case that the offered clothes did not sit well on they made promptly a repair. Except for this tailor´s salons did exist which have an ambition to be more „nobly“. Explanation, forms of advertisement in print, quality of cloths, finer working-up of  details, way of communication with client and, of course, the price have testified about it. Thoroughly snug clothes either with men or with women have been a manifestation of elegance, a norm of good taste.

Also therefore many families were employing couturieres regularly being coming into their household.  Excepting the running maintenance of clothes and quilting (alteration) they manufactured often tailor-mad e clothes. They enriched the wardrobe of a woman by simpler pieces whereas the better situated landlady had the evening dress, coat or costume tailor-made in tailor´s salon.


Militant atmosphere of Europe was projected also into the fashion silhouette at the end   of the thirties. Above all it began to acquire some distinctively angular shapes in shoulders as well as elements related with military uniform. Voluminous angular shoulders have delivered to the female figures a sternness and manhood. With favour they were accented not only on the coats and light jackets but also on the dresses and blouses. Angularity of shoulders was augmented with some more padding so as it never has been in the female clothing silhouettes till now. Bravery, force and courage had to be proved also by women in times of war, and namely not only by deeds also by the clothes.

Astuteness of fashion designers has been also despite this masculinisation visible on the details of the cut of top parts of clothes – blouses, pullovers and upper parts of dresses. The elegance has been delivered to the clothes particularly by heterogeneously designed yokes of dresses and blouses for instance by draping (or shirring), asymmetry, knitting-through, knotting and the like. In contrast with shoulders they were helping to form the effect of petite shank which infused a frailty to the female silhouette.

The skirt in bottom part made the entire silhouette in shape of X complete which has been shorter, approximately knee-deep, for daily wearing against the fashion of the thirties.

Costume was a very wide-spread type of ladies´ clothes which could remind a uniform by some details (distinctive buttons, pockets, epaulettes). Ladies´ jackets alike as the men´s ones have been completed in back part with a decorative small strip; jackets with inverted pleat in dorsal part have been popular. It was differentiated between English costume which has been more modest in the cut of jacket and completed with a simpler rather evener skirt, and French costume of which the design of cut has been more demanding and striking,  in total.

The costumes were a suitable daily dressing either already to work for current but also for more nonstandard daily occasions (visit of exposition or a more formal  encounter). The dresses were worn for current daily opportunities at the most from spring to autumn. Shorter dresses in a spread from a knee-deep length to calf-deep were worn for daily occasions. The dresses had a more social character against costume. Into the dance hall or onto the promenade the elegant ladies have worn the dresses not a costume. For evening opportunities have been reserved the long dresses; a length up to ankles prevailed in more modest models. Silk was the most luxury material which was substituting also by viscose silk. The evening dresses have been always distinctively low-necked.

The furs were effect complements on the costumes, completes, dresses and topcoats in the forties. Their liking has persisted still from past times – the furs of foxes, polecats or minks on one shoulder or two have been negligently thrown-over on the hand, with their heads, with their small paws.

Blouse as a complement into the costume or in combination only with the skirt already was a current part of wardrobe of women of all social classes. Cotton blouses, viscose blouses and the silk ones with long or short sleeves, with printing, the embroidered ones, without patterns – they used to be worked-into the skirt or into trousers. Also smock was popular which have being remained fully rolled-up and it was girding-round in the waist by a belt.


The war silhouette will capture one´s interest at first sight especially by two types of clothing complements – by worked-up, striking elegant hats and by shapeless up to rough shapes of shoes. The headgear became a substitution for scaled-down and simplified elegance of dresses. The hats vested by their resourceful up to bizarre forms to the figure of woman a seclusive elegance inducing an impression as if the head had dream t those most relaxed dreams. (The female clothes is thankful for this playfulness to Else Schiaparelli – to a fashion female designer who has designed unbelievable, extravagant and out of mondaine world of Paris up to „nonwearable“ clothes and complements).

So far unparalleled forms of shoes in fashion clothes characteristic rather for traditional or working dress were worn on feet. Shapelessness and massiveness of shoes such being unusual in history of fashion, which have preferred elegance of subtle foot and shoes, have been a real novelty. Moreover lack of leather caused using of materials up to then being wide-spread only in rural or labour environments: wood, felt, textile as the case may be. Fine „(small) lady´s slippers“ have superseded rougher shoes often with robust platform. Slim ladies´ legs have lost their charm and gracefulness in them. The hard reality of the days has required also rigid, stabile and course shoes.


A suit with shirt, necktie and headgear were constantly the basis of men´s wardrobe. The gentlemen have dressed not other formal shirt than a white one; the jacket has been always fastened; dinner-jacket, tail coat or jacket have been still steadily in compulsory wardrobe of a gentleman. Into the suit a tie or butterfly hand-bound were always worn.

The suits had in the wardrobe of gentleman various looks: daily working suit, daytime formal one (also the morning coat was got used still steadily to be worn), formal evening black suit (especially the communist intellectuals were giving up dinner-jackets or tail coats), further the lounge suit and the sports one.

The head of a gentleman but also of a man physically working has been always covered-up – with a hat or by a cap with visor (this was rather a proletarian complement suitable for gentleman only for golf or other sport). Among working class also something as tammies (also as berrets) called „berets“ were popular.

In the period journals a great attention to physical arrangement of men and to the men´s fashion was not paid. If a gentleman wanted to inform himself upon that what is just fashionable he had to rely on Czech or foreign men´s fashion journals.

A man was considered for the “well-dressed“ one to who a suit was a perfect fit on his figure. This was attained by bespoke tailoring. Length of sleeves and trousers, height of collar, well-tied-up cravate (or necktie) or bow- tie and suitably inserted handkerchief in breast pocket of jerkin got to know who can to dress oneself or not.


Adult mature woman has been the ideal of beauty. French fashion magazines brought constantly a fashion ideal in clothing. Although the war is lulling all muses, to the fashion it remained only nevertheless to be permitted to leave the women to dream a little also despite difficult times. Everyday reality, however, was other one. Prevailing Nazi propaganda presented the woman like brave, modest, German woman being steadily working. German but also Slovak nationalistic wave propagated the clothes in folk style particularly the dresses and blouses have been decorated with embroideries. Also a fondness of German dirndls, of dresses typical for some German regions, was spread to us from the German period fashion magazines.  

However, the women were inspired at the most by elegance in gloom of cinema halls where the stunners of silver screen have presented to them the unattainable robes manufactured by top designers. In Slovakia especially Czech and German movies were available. Renowned Prague fashion house Podolská and Vlková were manufacturing the clothes for Prague film studios at Barrandov where were arising also many German movies. Those women were dressing Czech movie stars also in their private life.

The news from the world of the Czech or German movie have being brought also by the main period periodical with us –  New Slovakia (monthly journal) and New World (weekly paper). Women of all social classes could see and cut out their idols, be inspired by their hairdo, dresses or make-up.             Separate „female“ columns did exist in every edition of the New Slovakia and New World. They have been dedicated to the fashion, etiquette, clothing, self-manufacturing the clothes: advices and tips how to be elegant also to the children´s clothes got used to be variegated also with information from abroad. A separate fashion magazine, however, was not issuing in Slovakia. It was possible to procure especially the Czech, German and Austrian fashion magazines.

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Literature and important links

Krausová, Agáta a coll.: Enci, benci, on hailstones: traditional children´s games of Nitra region (Regional Educational Centre in Nitra, 2018)

Blažek, Bohuslav: Labyrinth of computer games (Mladá fronta, 1990)

Švelch, Jaroslav: Gaming the Iron Curtain (MIT Press, 2018)

Ondrejka, Kliment: Traditional games of children and youth in Slovakia (Veda, 1976)

Čmolík, Otto: Games for “sparks” and pioneers (Smena, 1973)

Králiček, Juraj: Let´s play with children (Slovak Pedagogical Publishing House, 1976)

Ferenčíková, Marta: Children’s folk games and poems (MPC, 2014)
(online on

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Present state

After 2000 we can speak on the relatively stabilized gaming scene in Slovakia and the games are taken by current public as whichever other medium. Specialized stone shops are opened (Hráč (Player), Brloh (Den)); it is possible to purchase credits into various games in discount foodstuffs. Emerging gaming webs are further proof of growing community which substitute magazines in a certain sense (,, but also diverse new projects which reflect a need to see the games as a possibility of education (like for instance portal Vĺčatá (Wolf cubs)). Thereby the education is on the field of the games a separate theme; also as for practical courses in the area of game production also within the academic access. At University of St. Cyril and Metod in Trnava an dependent study branch Theory of digital games exists since 2005 which is the first like this focused separate branch. Also other schools deal with the theme of videogames (for example Private High School of Animated Creation in Bratislava or Secondary Artistic School in Trenčín and other ones).

In 2016 SGDA comes into existence, Slovak Game Developers Association, the association of which primary purpose is to support videogame industry and to enhance awareness of it. The SGDA has been established by Filip Fisher (one of founders of Pixel Federation), Marián Ferko (from original Cauldron), Pavol Buday (ex-editor-in-chief of Sector, a gaming web server), Marcel Klimo and Adam Šabla (both game designers). The association devotes itself in close cooperation with Slovak Museum of Design also to collections and archiving of digital games; it strives for an organization of regular meetings of the gaming community and it secures also gaming specialized/ popular  Game Days (in Košice and in Trnava) and it publishes regularly an overview of inland happening in this sphere. Further function of the important ones, which the SGDA has, is an effort to increase interest of the state in game industry because from this point of view the gaming area is, in long terms, being neglected and the investments into it come especially from the private sector and foreign investors.

Although it can be seemed that the Slovak gaming scene is lagging behind the Czech one at present day, at least as for the development of great videogame titles (as for example Bohemia Interactive and its Arma or Mafia), in spite of this, however, we may watch a significant progress also in publishing as well as in playing the games on our territory. Tendency, which has been started by the nineties, and then a distinctive shift in perception of the games as such (also in the sense of the games like a new product of the industry) is going on henceforth. It manifests itself for instance herewith that along the entire country new studios come into existence; in West Slovakia Fatboy Games, Bitmap Galaxy, Volcanicc arise; from a part of personal of fallen 10tacle Studios Slovakia (which unfortunately never published its long being prepared title Elveon) Games Distillery (with titles Aqua and Citadels), Doublequote Studio, Aykiro and Tater Games, in Žilina Playnica; in Košice from 2015 a relatively small Triple Hill Interactive with futuristic game Underflow, Grindstone and many other ones do exist. In 2019 we keep a record of thirty eight gaming companies in total (according to the SGDA Industry Report).

Pixel Federation residing in Bratislava, a gaming studio with highest number of employers,  is the greatest Slovak producer of games. The Pixel is especially the most successful start-up project in this area, minimally, as for the popularity of its games for smartphones but also it is in a certain sense a creative breeding-ground for commencing and aspiring personalities of gaming happening (or goings-on). They work together with Sygic (Slovak firm oriented primarily on GPS technologies), Leaf (non-profit organization for the development of students and pedagogues),  HubHub (a coworking community) and Hemisphere (a project for overall education of children in creation of games) on the programme Butterfly Effect which shall churn out capable and familiarized potential creators of games and applications. The Pixel is also certain seedbed of new projects because it links up similarly focused people in Bratislava and so it creates space for discussion in this area.

Already around 2000 the Slovak gaming scene is a distinctive community close-knit with further other genres. Many festivals are for instance an example of the fact that these ones associate more subcultures, and which include also the gaming one. For example the festival IstroCon arose already in 1988. From IstroCon it became Comics Salón in 2004, a popcultural festival inspired by Comic Conom, and in 2008 also its spring version, AnimeSHOW and Game Expo arose thereby both meetings hold a distinctive line of sci-fi, fantasy and games. From 2006 also similarly oriented Slavcon exists. The communities oriented on cosplay and cony are in total a thankful public for videogame industry and fantastic culture altogether; those Slovak ones without exception. A Bratislava Y-fest is the latest acquisition into such group, to which Y- Games belongs, the greatest gaming Slovak tournament in electronic sports,; panel discussions with guests from gaming world and with distinctive technological part and already Game Days mentioned. These events are intertwined with a phenomenon, which is relatively new in the Slovak gaming happening, and namely with propagation of competitive gaming and with rise of the segment of e-sports which is tremendously rapidly developed all over the world. Slovakia does not belong among countries where the esport is so popular but its position is constantly growing. Rise of new e-sport teams can be an evidence of this thereby some of them have been built by clubs alone of “traditional” sports as for example in case of AS Trenčín, which has own team playing FIFU. Also a team of ROG.female can be an interesting thing composed purely and only of Czech and Slovak female players.

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Gaming scene on territory of Slovakia after 1989

The revolution in 1989 has changed the Czechoslovak social and political happening in every branch not excluding the gaming scene. The opening of the boundaries, availability of goods and liberty in creation and undertaking caused an imitation of West market; that what has been secured under socialism almost exclusively by individual activity of hobbyists interlinked into associations is substituted by studios and by legally being published and distributed magazines.

At the beginning of the nineties the games of separate authors are still published. The Czechoslovak scene is steadily hugely fruitful and formed especially by young people who learned to programme alone and for which the games have been a natural part of the work with computer. For instance Milan Blažíček and his Notorik (Dipsomaniac) and Octopussy, Radoslav Maruša with Phantom F4, Rudolf Priečinský with games Tripe or Arkarum, or Slavomír Lábsky, who generated particularly the demos and system mathematical and printer programmes but he has for example also a game Traf ma! (Hit me!) or a program Genius 18 in his conscience who is today considered for a primitive chatbot.

Next thing from the other ones, which is worth Lábsky´s salt but also worth further other programmer´s salt, has been a programme for protection of cassettes against copying for Bratislava gaming publishing house UltraSoft. Till then a strong awareness of copyright did not exist and the blanket ban on undertaking did not permit an existence of private businesses, however, it was changed already shortly after the revolution. Existence of market mechanics where the games may be duly distributed did cause opening of the theme of authorship, intellectual property and claim for royalties; therefrom a need of protective mechanics is resulting; as the Labsky´s programme has been. Such awareness comes, however, gradually resp. it lasts more long while it is put into the practice; the authors defend themselves when someone duplicates their creation and he is enriching with it but the titles with figures from foreign action movies are still published and also magazines with articles criticizing the piracy are a quite frequent phenomenon whereas their advertising comprises advertisements for copied software.

Rise of the first gaming studios related closely with a change of access to the games; the games became a commodity in the capitalistic sense and the authors could sell them to distributors or straight ahead to establish own studio; although in this period we speak on small companies with several members. Despite the fact that the market was relatively quickly released, the people have been gaining the games often rather like publishers alone and they disseminated their demo versions or also the very whole games. Activity of these „spreaders” has not been legal in that time and just  Richard Pintér – according to his own words – has been one the first person condemned for gaming piracy; in that time one of the most distinctive persons of the Slovak gaming happening (although he has been alternatively exempt by president´s amnesties). Pintér began seriously to devote himself after this legal dispute to the games he established a company Riki focused on legal distribution of games –  also a magazine of the same name in 1994 and one year later also Riki Computer Games, a  publishing house which has roofed  publishing the Czech games (Ramon´s magic, Dragoon´s history, 7 days and 7 nights),  the first commercial debut of Slovak developers of Rune Software, adventure Anatema: Legend about curse and later further developer´s company Mayhem Studios arose from it. In neighbouring Bohemia player, programmer, distributor and publisher Petr Vochozka with developer´s companies Vochozka Trading and later Illusion Softworks (today 2K Czech, Slovak branch was Silver Wish Games) had a similar task like Pintér.

Journal Riki have been not the only Slovak journal dealing exclusively with the games. Until the nals with gaming themes begin to be published in Czechoslovakia, the Polish Bajtek (1985 – 1996) was popular. In Bohemia they start a bit later; already from 1989 the Computer Games are published, the next ones are predominantly focused on a concrete operating system; in 1991Commodore Amater, Amiga Magazín, Bit and journal Počítač Aktívne (Computer Actively) come, which has contained also a gaming column, later Joustic (1993) and Hráč (Player) (1996). Except for this also magazines Score or Fifo have been popular with us.

Despite this that in this time the popularity of personal computers ascended rapidly, the hardware has been cheaper and the software more available the Slovak gaming scene has been relatively small and interconnected and it owes its development to predominantly individual enthusiasts as were also Pinter or further pioneers of gaming industry.

For example one of the first associations, the DSA Computer Graphix with games for ZX Spectrum has been in reality formed basically only by brothers Balaras; Dušan Balara took care of graphics and animations and Ladislav Balara devoted himself to the programme aspect. The DSA Computer Graphix cooperated with mentioned Maruš on his first game Prvá Akcia!(First Action!) from 1992,  which is also an example of free taking-over of foreign contents; its main hero, cop intervening at banking raid shall intentionally remind Arnold Schwarzenegger (with regard to the then graphics only on the introduction caption). Except for this they have six games under their belt; it is possible to mention titles like Sherwood (referring to the topic of Robin Hood) or games connecting the action and adventure with logics Towdie (1994) and Kliatba Noci (Curse of Night) (1993).

The Bratislava Cauldron established by a team in composition of David Ďurčák, Marián Ferko, Maroš Stano and Peter Rjapoš belongs among further significant gaming companies. Already their first game, logical Quadrax (1996), has been very well accepted, and in the year of its publishing has been the bestselling one in Slovakia also un Bohemia. In 2014 the Cauldron has been absorbed by Czech Bohemia Interactive and the studio received a new identity Bohemia Interactive Slovakia, however, meanwhile they managed in time to develop eighteen further games for various platforms. A bit later in 1997 Cypronia/Cypron Studio comes into existece in Michalovce which publishes the remakes of its old games for new computer systems in last years.

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Era of first computers

The games have been a part of work with computers from the very beginning. The human nature is from its basis playful and already huge room computers in the sixties have been a subject of playing of that closed group of programmers who has access to them and then a possibility to create alone simple games for themselves. Also after slow, gradual penetration of personal computers to the inhabitants of Czechoslovakia in the eighties the computer games have been taken as one of a couple of those things, which these computers managed to do – although the access to the videogames has been embarrassed with the people; so it is also now.

The era of these computers, which begins in the Western world substantially sooner, has found the communist Czechoslovakia being unprepared.  The need of computers although so accented by schools, factories or IT amateurs has been not recognized by cadres of command economy, and this also in spite of the fact that the interest in technological directions grew also among students also among employers in this period. The personal computers and their creators met with a lack of interest up to unwillingness of the KSČ while they have being became a subject of interest of people and more progressive media like for example Mladý svět (Young World), Televizní klub mladých (Television Club of Young People) or later the magazine Mikrobáze (Microbasis).

On the Czechoslovakian market where the demand for computers and microchips in general far away exceeds the supply where also the most banal goods is in short supply and when importing the West goods has been possible only through a complicated system for the sake of nonconvertible currency (or by means of individual import), this engineering is preferred for the industry and school system. Utilization of computers for entertaining purposes has been then not current; almost nonexistent market has been substituted by enthusiasts encountering in computer clubs under the auspices of state predominantly apolitical organizations like „Svazarm” or Socialist Union of Youth”. This amateur´s computer scene has been, in a certain sense, distinctively separate in „meddling-in“ into the hardware, copying the software and by writing and dissemination of programmes. The country has especially these hobby clubs to thank for creating the terms for dissemination and playing of first computer games.

Despite this the computers managed gradually to get to Czechoslovakia; foreign instruments like Sinclair ZX Spectrum, later competing Atari or Commodore but also domestic Didaktik from Skalica which has been in fact a copy of ZX Spectrum; what has also meant that it was compatible with the games created for its English predecessor. PMD, a Piešťany display minicomputer, developed in secret by Roman Kišš in Piešťany Tesla, has been further of the first microcomputers. The PMD became immediately a commodity in great demand, and this also in spite of the fact that it was immensely expensive and for the sake of closed boundaries also by several classes more inferior than the West electronics in that time. From the PMD became almost at once a political project and Kišš has been not allowed further in developing the computer. Together with computer Maťo and IQ 151 it has been really the first computer made in Slovakia. Game consoles were substantially less widely used but the products of Soviet Electronics, particularly „Nu pogodi”, have been surprisingly popular.

The first of these games are an evidence of inventiveness and playfulness in spite of technological difficulties. At the beginning also their paper versions, pre-stage properties of the games have come-out which shall still only come. So in 1981 the ABC of young technicians and natural scientists” publishes a simulation of computer game „Moon landing”, a paper model into which a card with programme commands was slid-in. These „analogous“ versions reflected also a reality that at the beginning the computers have been a commodity, which all aspiring programmers not got to, and the learning of programming language by writing on the paper has been a quite current thing.

Also resemblance of computer games, which were played in that time, is already heavily imaginable today. With some of the games a graphics on monitor have fully absented; the game instead of that by means of a printer drew the happening with pencil on two arms. For instance a ballistic game Plivátko (Spittoon) has been as such where the player regulated intensity and direction of spit. Other ones displayed the game exclusively with the aid of text; as in the case of Star Trek where the player entered the numbers according to that where he wanted to move over and in this way „to discover” the space.

At the beginning the games were then disseminated like remaining programmes; they have been manually rewritten and like this copied from device into device later they have been transferred by dint of cassettes. In the first half of the eighties it comes to a stabilization of informal and unofficial distribution of cassette copies of West games. The text games „Moon landing” or the mentioned Star Trek have been gradually expelled by games which offered a new audio-visual experience; onto the market the games like Manic Miner or Atic Atac got, steadily predominantly in shape of  exchange meetings of enthusiasts. In the eighties the people not only played the computer games but they also created them. In that time many copies of foreign games (from reason of released comprehension of authorship), continuations, new games with take overn action heroes have arisen but also quite new games did so; for instance text games of Michal Hlaváč (Super Discus, Sherlock Holmes: Tree Garridebs), of Martin Malý (Katanga, Demon in Danger, Nick Carter), games by group „Golden Triangle“, i.e. František Fuka, Miroslav Fídler and Tomáš Rylko and many of other ones.

The games are a separate theme for those ones which have directly reflected the political situation by their theme or mechanics and they passed through unnoticed; something what it is possible heavily to imagine at other medium before fall of the regime. After events of Palach´s week (brutally suppressed non-violent demonstrations in January 1989) a game Indiana Jones at Vencel´s square has arisen in which this hero is a witness of the events and he runs away subsequently from the square to the airport whereby he must fight his way through the members of the ŠtB and People´s militias. Further example can be P.Ř.E.S.T.A.V.B.A. by Miroslav Fídler (who confessed to the game only after the Gentle Revolution and he programmed it deliberately so nobody attaches this authorship to him), which is a satire onto the communist regime and the player burns Marx´s Capital in it; he blows up a Lenin´s sculpture; and after passing-through this he will get an invitation to actual oncoming demonstration.

Rise of some first gaming rooms is further phenomenon, which has been out of law in that time, where the man could play for 2 Czechoslovak crowns a game – mostly at the console. But stone shops and clubs have been controlled by the state thus these gaming rooms had quite unique form; they travelled in caravans sometimes with wandering circuses and sometimes in solitude. The consoles have been in this shape, as a matter of fact, of the ungambling gaming machines with games like Pong or various pinballs. But there is substantially little known about this „caravan culture“.

In spite of deficit technology this period has been surprisingly fruitful for games, especially, if we take into consideration such thing that these authors have been amateurs also in the sense that unlike the capitalist countries the videogames have not been comprehended with us as a starting industry and they did not bear a promise of gain. Though the computers price alone has depreciated in the course of years, it was constantly a question of multiples of average salaries; and the sufficiency of finances has not been even a guaranty of purchase. Despite these economic and logistic reasons enough people was found who identified this new technology like something, on which the future will be dependent, and they dedicated to it their personal time and means. Together they created almost unorganized and unstructured computer scene either already by founding the associations and clubs (as Prague computer club of Sylva Prokšová, born  Vošahlíková or the first Atari club of Oldřich Burger), by magazines and journals like the independent i.e. technically illegal Spectrum of David Herl and Ondřej Kafka (later ZX Magazine being published up to 2005) or magazine of cultural underground „Vokno” of František Stárek, which utilized computers and printers for dissemination of this samizdat or they have spread a positive awareness about computers and videogames as it has been done by an actor, musician, composer, humorist and last but not least a great fan of new technological trends Jaroslav Filip for instance in his programme „Computers for playing”.

Gaming happening in the eighties is well caught up by a book „Labyrinth of computer games” (Bludiště počítačových her) by author Bohuslav Blažek, edited by programme StarTexter for computer Commodore 64; pixelled, angular retro font has been designed to the author by his son that means that in his case the form reflects contents and the book is freely available today and propagated with consciousness of the owner of copyright.

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Pioneers and „sparks”

„Universal development of personality, preparation of active builder of communist society is basic aim of communist upbringing,“ writes Otto Čmolík in his book “Games for Sparks and Pioneers” in 1973.

One of things, which is necessary to mention at the plays, especially at those children´s ones, is their irreplaceable task in education and upbringing. The plays develop all aspects of children´s personality; except for the mentioned physical aspect they have influence also on intellectual abilities, aesthetical comprehension and socialization. The plays, which have a form of imitating the activity of adults, can have a function of working education; together with stage-properties and toys they contribute to technical skills.

As for moral education, socialist upbringing of the children and youth plays a distinctive part in history of Slovakia. The communists indentified the potential of the plays as a possibility of means for influencing and check of young generation. So the plays became a tool for creation of the socialist man suitable for the regime. Not neglecting the emphasized elements of the plays, which contribute to the development of man, in the communist regime these plays have been duly completed with a propagandistic level. In this period the authors have been not mistaken in the fact how the games are important, however, they condition them by the ideology and political directing. „The most favourite, the most needed children´s games are those, in which the children alone will determine themselves the aim of play: to build a house, to travel to Moscow, to drive out the White Guard…“, Nadežda Konstantinovna Krupská writes, the female organizer of Soviet school system and wife of Vladimír Iljič Lenin.

It comes also to creating of new manuals with recommended plays which would support the then social and political aims. These ones called upbringing thematic plays teach the children to current necessary things; to cleanliness and hygiene, to knowing the physical phenomena or to cooperation but it is necessary to indicate those, which make efforts for instance for „waking-up of sincere love to soldiers“, they want “to instil in the children that our army is strong and our soldiers do not fear an enemy” or with the aid of construction of snowmen to persuade the children that the “ children of unemployed labourers in capitalistic countries suffer from cold“.

These plays have been thematic and directed by adults what is connected with creating the organizations of pioneers led by the Socialistic Union of Youth and Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. The pioneers should be a new force for fight for rights of exploited proletariat and these associations had a task to enthuse the children and youth for effort for better future. Pioneering plays are thought-out and motivated to draw in the children into the „ real world“      and they are easily interchangeable with the work (for example the plays in the nature, part of which is planting of young trees or plays in which the children have collected historically valuable or interesting materials). They lean against methods of the upbringing process by Soviet pedagogue A. S. Makarenko who emphasized the necessity of plays in children´s collective as a means for developing of imagination, fantasy and according to who also the pedagogues have a duty to know to play with something. 

But „analogous” plays have not, of course, disappeared with arrival of the digital era and their tradition goes on up today although the theme of the fact whether they are expelled by new technologies is present in more areas. Today´s uneasiness of parents and pedagogues who have a feeling that the children and youth do not spend fully-fledged time by plays and activities, which have positive influence on development of their personality, and they worry about negative consequences, which can come with inadequate consumption of products, which are brought by the digitalization.

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