Romanian peasant

Romanian peasant wearing opinci and obiele

 

If you’ve read Son of the Dragon, Book One of the Dracula Chronicles, you’ve come upon a footwear item called “opinca” (singular), or “opinci” (plural). Opinci are a very ancient mode of “transportation” employed by Transylvanian, Wallachian, and Moldavian peasants, both men and women. They predate by thousands of years the conquest of Dacia (present day Romania) by the Romans in 105-106 AD.

Opinci are provided with leather laces and are worn with foot-wrappers, called “obiele” in Romanian. Obiele are large rectangles of hemp or cotton fabric that are wrapped around the foot and the calf, then secured in place with laces, sometimes all the way up to below the knee.

I was assured by my grandparents, who were still wearing opinci when I was growing up in Transylvania sixty years ago, that they were more comfortable than the best Gucci loafers. I don’t know about that, but there’s certainly no price comparison. 🙂

When a Transylvanian peasant would be asked to estimate the distance to a faraway place, he might say, “You’d be wearing X pairs of opinci getting there, brother” , where X would vary with his notion of distance.

Having a certain resemblance to the native Americans’ moccasins, the opinci could be made from a variety of materials, such as leather, tree bark (especially birch), and, in the 20th & 21st centuries, even car tires. Opinci have become a rare sight these days, although they can still be encountered “in the wild” in Maramures, the northern section of Transylvania.

Theodore, the first character the reader meets in the Son of the Dragon, is of a very poor background, so for him a pair of opinci is an outlandish luxury. His were made by his father from birch tree bark.

Although Vlad/Dracula, being a “prince of the blood”, would customarily wear leather boots, there is a scene in the Son of the Dragon in which he is compelled to wear the opinci, like an ordinary peasant.

I thought you’d enjoy seeing images of this most traditional “fashion” accessory, as you embark, friend and travel companion, upon Vlad’s exciting journey.

Woman wearing opinci

Romanian peasant woman wearing opinci
(with socks instead of obiele)

Leather opinci

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