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Tradiţie şi modă în uniformele militare româneşti 1830-1920 / Tradition and fashion in military uniforms of Modern Romania 1830-1920

Limba de redactare română
Excerpt Like civilian dress, military uniforms change under the shifting impact of sartorial trends dominating certain historical periods. In Romania's case, these trends emanated mainly from the home territories of the Great Powers of the day. Thus, Romanian military uniforms developed chiefly under Russian influence between 1830 and 1849, and under French influence between 1850 and 1873. After this date, military dress acquired its more or less stable national character. After WW1, a British touch became noticeable in the cut and colours of Romanian uniforms, especially in the officers' undress and campaign attire. Naturally, there were other influences, notably an Austrian one in the Hussar-like uniforms of the mounted gendarmes in Moldavia (1860-1864) and a Prussian one in the Pickelhaube helmets of both pedestrian and mounted gendarmes of 1868. The latter remained the specific headgear of the Royal Escort Regiment up to King Michael's forced abdication in 1947. A British influence was also noticeable in the navy uniform, although the full dress cocked hat was not pointed like its British counterpart, but shorter and with uneven sides, after the French model. The length and cut of tunics were also in line with general trends in fashion. In Romania, from 1830 to 1873, land troops - with the exception of mounted troops - wore a type of tunic ('surtuc', 'mondir'), which reached down to just above the knee. In 1830, the Organic Regulations, the constitutional arrangements sponsored by the Russian occupation army after the Russo-Turkish war of 1827¬ 1828, stipulated the reorganisation of the Romanian army, henceforward called 'Militia'. The soldiers' uniform was in Russian style, comprising a shako (a cylindrical headgear made of cardboard covered in black lambskin), a single- breasted tunic ('mondir') of dark blue coarse cloth and grey trousers. The pipings were in the national colour, yellow for Wallachia and red for Moldavia. Officers wore gold braids on their shoulders and embroidered sleeves. Because they felt that Russian officers of equivalent or of lower rank did not show them the consideration due to peers, the Romanians complained to General Pavel Kisèleff who, as a result, granted them the right to wear epaulettes like those worn by the Tzar's troops. The epaulettes in Romanian uniforms were adopted on 22 August 1831. This is important in dating the portraits lithographed by Constantin Lecca of commanders of the Wallachian and Moldavian Militia to a later period, as they all wear epaulettes after the Russian model. In the beginning, in order to attract men into the army, military ranks were equal to the boyar title the incumbent had in civilian life, and many young men responded to the lure of this privileged status. At its inception, the Militia comprised only two sections, an infantry and a cavalry, and their uniforms did not differ too much. Only in 1843 in Moldavia and in 1845 in Wallachia did the cavalry adopt a uniform similar to that of the Polish lancers, comprising a double- breasted kurtka (a short-tailed coatee) pale grey trousers and a cap called shapska (also called a 'chivără ulănească'). The Russian influence was more powerful in Moldavian where, in 1845, the infantry's shakos were replaced by leather helmets with brass trirnmings and on top a grenade-shape which, in full dress, was replaced by a plume of dark horse hair. In the same year in Wallachia, troops adopted the Prussian-type Pickelhaube, with a square brim and a spike on top, which remained in use until the union of the Principalities in 1859. The artillery was created in 1846 and, in 1848, it was issued for it a uniform similar to that of the infantry, with a Pickelhaube as headgear. Also in 1848, chiefs of staff and princely aide-de-camps wore bicornes with white plumes instead of helmets. The army commander - called spătar in Wallachia and hatman in Moldavia - wore a general's uniform after the Russian model, with a bicorne, gold bullion embroideries on the sleeves and collar, and big epaulettes with thick fringes. During the period of the Organic Regulations, the ruling princes themselves wore generals' uniforms, but their headgear continued to be the gugiuman, a cap of sable fur with a white plume attached on the right-hand side with a precious stone, a symbol of investiture by the Sultan. Barbu Ştirbei, ruling prince of Wallachia (1849-1856), introduced new special units into the army: a flotilla, a cadet school, border troops and the so-called 'Dorobanţi', mounted troops at district level and in the police. For the border guards and the 'Dorobanţi', the new standardized uniforms had a specific national character and were made of homespun materials, which were readily available in the peasant households most of the recruits came from. This was one of the earliest ways in which rural traditions were put to use. Whereas the officers' uniforms were similar to their comrades in the infantry, the soldiers wore an overcoat much like a tunic, made of a coarse, home-spun cloth, peasant breeches ('iţari'), peasant sandals ('opinci') and a short lambskin hat. Border guards in mountainous areas had green as their emblem colour, whereas those along the Danube had red on the collar, on the shoulder straps and on the pipings of the tunics. The mounted 'Dorobanţi' were similarly attired, with additional riding boots and a hat with green-cloth lining and black fur trirnming. All these uniforms are well represented in the Army Album (Albumul oştirii) lithographed in 1852 by A. Bielz and FC Danielis. Although obedient to the Turkish overlords, the Moldavian 'caimacam' (governor) Nicolae Vogoride introduced in 1857 a few changes of French origin in the cut of military uniforms and headgear. Thus, the tails of the lancers' tunics disappeared, artillery troops were given double-breasted tunics with a black plastron and a shako with a narrow upper base. The coats adopted for winter were two specifically French items: the ulanka and burnous - the latter borrowed by the imperial troops from their Algerian opponents during the African campaigns. 1858 saw the creation of a battalion of pedestrian riflemen wearing uniforms inspired from those of the courageous 'chasseurs de Vincennes' who had distinguished themselves in the Crimean War. Such novelties were captured by Al. Asaky in his Album of the Moldavian Army ('Albumul Oastei Moldovei'), lithographed in Iaşi in 1858. After the Union of the Romanian Principalities in 1859 the main concern of the ruling prince, Alexandru loan I , was to reorganize the army and to standardize the uniforms. To this effect, a joint commission of Wallachian and Moldavian officers was formed in Focşani with the task of issuing common uniforms for the troops of the now united sister lands. The French military mission sent by Napoleon III, the Romanians' great protector, also contributed to the new cut of the uniforms. Changes affected notably the shape of the epaulettes. The Russian model, with a perfectly circular and short body, without fringes for junior officers, with thin fringes for senior officers and thick ones for generals, was abandoned in favour of ellipse-shaped, long epaulettes, with long, thin, free-flowing fringes for junior officers and short, thick, compact fringes for senior officers. Also French was the system of designating ranks. In the first year of Cuza's reign, second lieutenants and lieutenants wore one fringed and one fringe-less epaulette on each shoulder. The 'wasp waist', specific to tsarist uniforms, disappeared and coats became looser; the trousers were, in fact, rather large, and tunics much less wasted. Red trousers were adopted for generals and staff officers, as in France. Full dress bicornes, formerly tall and covered almost completely with cock plumes, were replaced with a much shorter bicorne, with uneven sides and trimmed with ostrich down. All Pickelhaubes were replaced with a cylindrical shako with a flanttened back and a narrow upper top. In 1864 this disappeared too, to be generally replaced by a soft cap, slightly cocked forward. Alongside the lancers, who kept their uniform, new cavalry troops were created with Austian-inspired dress. Thus, the mounted 'Dorobanţi' in Wallachia hand dark blue tunics with red Brandenburg braids for troopers and gold-thread braids for officers, white trousers with embroidered trimmings and black lambskin caps with red lining and a red aigrette (white for officers) on the right-hand side. The Moldavian mounted gendarmes wore light blue tunics and trousers with Brandenburg braiding and tricolour trimming (golden for officers) and a big bearskin cap with a tricolour aigrette. The former was Prince Cuza's preferred uniform, which he wore when he sat for his official portrait by the court painter and photographer, C. Szathmari, in 1863. The new uniforms of the elite infantry rifle brigades were inspired from those of the Italian 'bersaglieri', especially the charcoal gray hat with black cock plume. Their double-breasted tunic was short and made of a light-brown coarse cloth, with dark green upturned sleeves, pipings and collar. The baggy gray trousers were stuck into white gaiters. A great admirer of France, prince Cuza was keen to adopt whatever was spectacular or efficient in the French army. It is, therefore, not without interest to mention the fact that in 1864 he intended to form a battalion of 'zouaves', armed and dresses like their French models, with Turkish shalvars and fez.However, the decree for the creation of this battalion was never passed. It is probably not hard to understand why the Romanians would have been reluctant to join a unit whose dress resembled that of their country's traditional enemies, the Ottoman soldiers. But the drum majors and sapeurs acquired equally spectacular uniforms in 1863 and 1865 respectively. Both had large bearskin caps; the formers' was decorated with a metal sun motif at the front and tall plumes, which amplified the already imposing stature of the wearers, statuesque non-commissioned officers with large beards. The vivandière's dress was a mix of feminine and masculine elements at a time when women were not allowed to wear trousers and other items of masculine- looking clothing. In 1866, after prince Alexandru loan Γ s forced abdication and the start of Prince Carol I of Hohenzollem-Sigmaringen's reign in the Romanian Principalities, radical alterations were introduced in military uniforms, much too ornate and expensive for the country's budget as well as for the officers' purse. In September 1866, major Josef Thorand put forward a few very judicious proposals for comfortable, inexpensive and efficient uniforms in which differences in rank between privates and officers - which could endanger the former's lives on the frontline - should be obscured, while also providing good camouflage for the troops on open terrain. His suggestions were, however, much too revolutionary for the time and, even thought the Prince shared his views, the ideas of major Thorand - later to become one of the best General Quartermasters in the Romanian army - were to be adopted gradually. Thus, the lancers' costly uniforms disappeared in 1868, the unit itself being replaced by a light cavalry unit with Hussar uniforms. Major changes in military uniforms took place in 1873, after which date the national character of the Romanian uniforms was stable for the next seventy years. The kepi became the norm both for undress and for full dress, the only distinction being marked by the presence of a pompon, or of an aigrette or plume. Ranks were indicated on the sleeve at an angle rather than in a garland, as had been the fashion under Cuza. Whereas in full dress epaulettes were worn as previously, shoulder knots were introduced in undress, formed of up to three tresses of gold thread for junior and senior officers as well as for generals. Pickelhaube reappeared in the dress of foot and mounted gendarmes, a change attributed to the Prussian nationality of ruling prince Carol I , later wrongly accused of having 'Prussianised' the Romanian army. The most convincing argument against such accusations is the uniform of the 'Dorobanţi' from the irregular army, comprising a white linen shirt, with collar, sleeves and shoulder straps made of light blue fabric, a woolen sash of the same colour, peasant breeches and sandals, and a black lambskin cap of the same shape as that worn by Romanian medieval princes, with turkey feathers on the left-hand side. Hence, the wearers' nickname 'căciulari' (fur cap-heads) or 'curcani' (turkeys), which they turned into names of honour in the 1877-78 war owing to the courage with which they fought in the battles of Griviţa and Plevna. Their simple cap became so famous that high-society ladies adopted it among their favourite accessories. In the winter of 1878, when this headgear was in vogue among the ladies, turkey meat was said to be cheaper than the feathers. Moreover, the hat was conferred as a sign of special honour to all the 'Dorobanţi' officers to be worn in full dress and on duty, instead of their former kepi, similar to that of their infantry peers. According to a new regulation of 1893, the hat of infantry troops was replaced by a soft fatigue cap, with a peak and flaps, which formed two horns - at the front and at the back - when worn. This was to be the headgear of Romanian soldiers until 1948, although dark blue became grey-blue in 1913, when the battle dress was introduced, and khaki in 1923. Its original shape, unique in Europe, made for a comfortable headdress fit for all weather conditions and for all circumstances. Alongside the battle dress, 1913 saw the introduction of a new system of rank distinction effected through transversal tresses of white metal appended into the shoulder straps. Junior officers (from second lieutenant to captain) had between one to three such tresses, to which was added a longitudinal gold gallon for senior officers. Generals' shoulder straps were entirely made of gold thread with embroidered oak leaves, the same as in the previous period for collars and cuffs of the undress uniform. This system was preserved until 1948 and, after a break with tradition caused by the Communist imposition of the Soviet model, was reintroduced in 1990 for land troops. Such were the processes of change which altered the appearance of Romanian military uniforms before a national character was established which proved remarkably enduring in time.
Paginaţia 150-190
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Titlul volumului de apariție
  • Muzeul Naţional; XV; anul 2003