Collection of Clothes and Uniforms
Collection counts around 5000 objects and consists of various objects, mostly national costumes, uniforms and archive files. Large numbers of these are gifts from participants of historical events or from their descendants. Some of uniforms were also brought from the National Theatre, Army Depots, disbanded Army units etc.
Collection preserves Serbian national costumes from all territories in former Yugoslavia, examples of Turkish clothes from 16th century and also uniforms of foreign armies. Special significance is given to uniforms from previous periods because they make possible to compare and study different styles. Beside clothes and uniforms, collection also has riding equipment.
National costumes are also part of the Collection. This shows the affinity of Military Museum for preserving of not just military but also of cultural traditions. In addition, national costume is a forerunner of military uniform. Some parts of national costumes have continued to exist as part of uniforms of National Militia.
Uniform, in the true sense of the word, appeared in Serbia during the First Serbian Uprising. There is no data that uniforms were worn during the Second Serbian Uprising. When the collection was formed, Museum staff had several criteria. First was to cover, if it was possible, every period with at least one uniform. So, collection has uniforms from the periods of Uprisings, Principality of Serbia, Kingdom of Serbia, Kingdom of SHS and Kingdom of Yugoslavia, from the period of the Second World War and after war development. Because of the fragile nature of textile, there are not lot of clothes from periods of Uprisings and Principality of Serbia preserved. This gap is filled to a certain extent with reconstructions according to sketches of Pavle Vasić. A second criterion was to represent all army services and ranks. Greatest range of services and ranks is present in collection of uniforms of Yugoslav People’s Army. It is important to mention not only military but also uniforms of government officials. Without this aspect of uniforms, it would be impossible to research military uniforms.
Collection possesses uniforms of famous persons from Serbian history: King Aleksandar I Krađorđević, Commander in Chief Stepa Stepanović, General Pavle Jurišić Šturm, politician Ilija Garašanin, Prince Danilo Petrović, Đura Horvatović and others. Military uniforms from the past show us concrete military-technical, ideological and political changes in country and society. From the end of 19th and beginning of 20th century, from intensively colored, shiny and highly decorative, uniforms became more practical and simply. Military museum possesses large number of officer’s and soldier’s blouses that show these changes. Most uniforms have kept their original shape and model and have changed through times insignificantly. It is the case with olive grey uniforms, which were introduced in service in 1908 and have remained the mark of land forces. Uniform of Cavalry Guard introduced in 1861 also haven’t changed significantly until 1941.
There are also lot of uniforms introduced by decree from 1946. They are inspired by Soviet uniforms with distinctive hard epaulets which were suspended in 1953 according to new ideology in country; more exactly break up with Soviet Union. Most of the collection consists of uniforms from the period of YA and YPA. Pattern, shape and fabric of uniform established in 1953 and 1955 remained almost unchanged until present days. Significant changes were introduced only on cockade, buttons, sleeves and epaulets by decrees from 1994 and 2007. These changes were made with imperative of modern warfare and maintaining Serbian tradition and national identity.
Beside national uniforms, special attention is also given to foreign ones. Collection includes uniforms and objects from Russian Empire, countries of Eastern Pact, Germany, Italy, United States, France and others. Most of these uniforms came to collection as gifts as part of inter-museum cooperation. Special curiosities are uniforms and insignias from Russian Empire; between two World Wars there was a special “Russian Department” in Miltary Museum.
Curator of the Collection - Bojana Ilić