For about two and a half centuries, the Crete woman wore a traditional Byzantine dress from 1316 to 1525.
The affluent woman wore a robe, a long shirt, and a one-piece top, which she wore in the waist with a belt or cord. She was always taking care of her hair, grabbing it high with a thin net and putting on the top, the Byzantine turban, which also served as a veil. Additionally, the head adornment was made with the <<koutelon>> that was a narrow strip of fabric around the forehead with adjusted gold coins.
Women’s shoes were called <<fellaria>>, a word from the Byzantine period, and during the Venetian occupation, they were named <<skafania>>, which were thin, square-toed shoes. Characteristic of women’s shoes were their soles, the <<domoi>>, which served as heels.
Finally, women’s clothing was completed with gold jewelry. These included earrings (krikelia or verges), bracelets (maninia) and collars (manikia).
The women in the villages wore the same clothes, but of lower quality and without the corresponding goldsmiths.
Italian fashion, after the end of the 15th century, influenced the Cretan clothing, and the woman of the village follows the Cretan costume, dressed according to Venice fashion. Above the skirt, they wore the <<karpeta>>, a skirt that was lifted to the front and fastened to it.
Interesting is the influence of the man’s costume on women. knitwear of women of Knossos. The young women borrowed the men’s pants (vraka), <<the meintani>>, which they called <<ziponi>> and embroidered it with gold threads. Noteworthy is the similarity of the ziponi, which leaves the chest open, with the women’s clothing of Knossos. In the 17th century, the dress was divided into upper body and skirt. The upper body is slowly withdrawn and replaced by the embroidered shirt. Later the costume is complemented by the decorative apron.
The three Cretan women’s costumes, which have survived to this day, with different origin are the Sfakian costume, the Anogiani or Shartza, and the Kritsas or Kouda costume.
The Sfakian Costume:
It is the festive costume of the prefecture of Sfakia and was worn throughout western Crete. It consists of a multifaceted skirt in crimson or brown color. At the bottom, there is a band of two broad golden siritia (silk or gold fabric bands). The shirt is white silk or cotton woven and has rich embroidery or lace on the ends of the sleeves. Above the shirt, a medium-sized zippon is worn, made of velvet and the color is black, brown or crimson. It has gold embroidery. A red or crimson scarf is tied on the head. Finally, the white apron is worn, richly embroidered.
The Anogiani or Strantza costume:
The name of the costume comes from its base piece, the apron called Sartza. It started from the area of Anogia but later wore it all over Crete. The dress is made up of a long trouser over which a long shirt is worn, like a cream-colored dress. The apron is red with gold embroidery, it is tied in the middle and the two ends are inserted on the left side of the belt, which is also red woven. The ziponi is made of felt, in various colors, with black predominating and adorned with gold embroidery. Finally, the head scarf is red or crimson with gold or yellow fringe.
The Kritsas or Kouda costume:
The name of the costume comes from a part of the skirt, which is tied at the back and forms a tail in red, the <<kouda>>. This costume has a lot in common with the Anogian costume, as it also includes pants and long shirts. The difference is that the trousers have wide embroidery on the trousers the same as the apron. The costume’s ziponi is the same color as the <<kouda>> and is longer covering the hips. The scarf on the head is white and very long.
Of particular importance to Cretan women’s clothing is the jewelry, which is also used as amulets. Chest, neck, and waist jewelry testify to the economic and social status of the Cretan woman. Particularly the coins that are sewn on the scarf, chest, and waist. The Cretan woman wears many bracelets and rings.
Finally, the female costume is complemented by the female knife, which is identical to the male but smaller in size and passes through the female belt.