European peasant footwear - styles of leather sandals

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Country Description
Macedonia -  Sopska Crna Gorka Opanci s's oputice - with twisted hemp laces, made of  oxhide or pigskin, tied on with twisted hemp laces.

Opanci s's remeni - with straps fastening over the instep , made of tanned leather by shoe makers and worn on festive occasions. 

Bulgaria North - opinki or central and west tsârvouli,  - leather sandals with blunt tips tied onto feet with long cords which formed a 'network'  giving them the name vruvchanki. These were worn over pieces of woollen cloth wrapped round legs.

From 2nd half of 19th century woollen socks and leather shoes called eminii, or kalevri were worn.

Croatia - Panonia Opanky made with a broad sole covering the foot with upper part covering the toes, originally tied round the foot and legs with long leather straps.  In the inter-war period buckled opanky first appeared, and are still worn in some rural areas by men.
Croatia - Slavonia Leather sandals were were worn by men & women throughout north Croatia but later replaced by light low embroidered shoes or boots (čižme ). Peasant sandals went out of general use around 1900.
Croatia - Dinaric Opanky (called oputaši or pripletenjaci) were made of untanned hide, cut and shaped on a wooden mould to make the shape of the sole of the foot, the edges folded upwards and laced using a lace made of sheep gut or thin strips of sheep hide called oputa. The top of the opanky was made by lacing together strips of gut or hide. At the heel the sole continues into the woven part ending in long leather laces which were used to tie the opanky to the foot. These were worn over stockings. Opanky were originally made at home, then by village makers, and later by specialist opanky makers in small towns.
Croatia - Dinaric Nikšic  & Lika In Nikšic  & Lika white cord was used instead of laces. These opanky were worn by men.
Croatia - Adraitic Littoral,  Konavle Red leather slippers called kondure were worn by women in summer. Men wore these or opanci-optutaši (opanci with straps).
Croaita - Sava Valley Opanci worn with or without foot cloths for everyday wear, boots worn in winter, for wet weather & special occasions.
Bosnia Thonged sandals called opanci-oputaši worn in central & western Bosnia, or opanci made from half tanned leather.
Serbia  - West and north Crveni opanci - made out of half tanned oxhide and dyed red (crveni = red) in colour  by soaking the piece of skin in hot water with alder or birch bark, then the skin was shaped on a last, and a  woven front made of strips of leather and tied to the foot with straps of leather.  These were adopted from Bosnia in the mid 19th C and were worn throughout western & northern Serbia. Production was moved to workshops by 1900 and tanned leather was used. From 1870 onwards red opanci called donaši or Šabački opanci were most commonly worn.
Serbia - Sumadija Sumadijski opanak s kljunom - Opanky with peak at front.

Sumadijski opanak bez kljuna - Opanky without peak.

Stariji Šumadijski opanak - Old Šumadija type called Kačerski opanak had low back, and curved peak at front, with woven front upper, a low back and leather ties.

Serbia Vrncani opanci (opanak 'vrncan' ) made out of tanned leather and worn for work.
Serbia Opanci donaši appeared at end of 19th C, and were made of tanned leather in various yellow & brown shades depending on the plants used for tanning - oak apple, sumac, juniper bark. These have a sole, top, pleated straps, and leather straps for tying footwear on.
Serbia - Vlaski Vlaski opanak – piece of leather gathered round foot using a cord.
Serbia Kosmajski opanak - has curly front, woven upper & leather straps at back
Serbia Low boots lined with fur called Patike od prirodnog krzna were made with a leather lower part and fabric upper forming boot with fur lining.
Hungary Various kinds of laced sandals made from untanned leather were replaced by boots in 19th C
Hungary - Transdanubia Leather sandals were worn for general wear.
Hungary - north Originally peasant sandals were the normal footwear. By mid 19th C these were only worn by shepherds or for harvesting, and by 1900 only the poorest still wore these.

Laced sandals were worn in Hollocko.

Hungary - Matyo Mesosed Laced sandals replaced by boots & slippers by 1900.
Romania Opinci worn throughout Romania until relatively recently. In Transylvania boots were worn by the upper classes from 19th C. See page on Romanian Footwear
South east and eastern Poland and Slovakia

Similar styles of leather sandals called krpce (Slovakia) or kurpcie (Poland) worn on both sides of the northern Carpathians.

Ukraine Porshni - made of a single piece of tanned leather with the corners of the front part of the leather turned up and sewn together to form the toe. At the sides and back the leather was turned up and gathered around the foot with a leather thong threaded through holes in the leather which was then tied around the shin.

In 15th-17th C leather sandals called postoly, knodaky, morschenytsi - same as porshni, made of pig or raw leather, were worn especially in mountain regions. There were several different types, some had rounded unsewn toes, some were sewn at front with upturned toes (called the Transcarpathian or Huţul type).


Nagines or kojinos were soleless leather shoes, made from a single piece of leather (called carbatina by ancient Romans). Perforations made along the edges to insert laces to make gathers. The toes of womens' nagines were pointed, mens' were rounded. These sandals were tied at the ankle with plaited leather laces which were joined to the original piece of leather, or alternately one side was made wider to overlap the other and both were threaded with separate laces. By middle of 19th and early 20th century straps replaced these laces.
Nagines for weddings and festive occasion were decorated with patterns stamped inot the leather or cut out open work patterns, folds, or cut edges.
In mid 19th C soles were added to the nagines. The earliest type of sole consisted of cord which had been made from tow or hemp fibre, then soaked in tar and rubbed in sand. Later heels were nailed to the leather soles of shoes. They were fixed with laces.

Kojinos were similar in style to nagines but the hair on the leather was not shaved off, but left on the outside. These were made from the hide of horned animals especially calf legs. The hide was taken from behind the calf's knee with the hoof left attached to prevent the laces from dropping into the snow.

Medpades were backless wooden soled leather shoes (clogs) – worn only at home.

Finland 3 types of leather sandals, first made using one piece of leather, second made using a  separate piece of leather for the font, third made like a moccasin with a leather sole (Karelia 1936).

Low ankle height leather boot made like moccasin, or low fur boots or felt boots (Seurasaari).


© Eliznik2006, First issue Jun-06