Clearing Up Some Misconceptions about Russian Clothing
for the SCA Costumer
by Liudmila Vladimirova doch'
Beading: Unfortunately, there is no evidence that seed beads were used on Russian clothing in period. There is plenty of evidence for fresh-water pearls, though, and they were usually doughnut-shaped (drilled horizontally) or baroque.
Belts: From the earliest times,
Black: Though practical and attractive for the modern eye and for
other cultures in period, black in
Buttonholes: There weren't any. Button closures were of a loop type, with buttons usually fairly large and spherical or egg-shaped.
Cotton: Cotton was widely imported from
Female headwear: Russian maidens did not cover their hair, nor did they always braid it. Oftentimes they wore headwear that left the hair showing, such as various wrap-around and crescent-shaped headdresses. Russian married women always covered their hair, but not necessarily with a "kokoshnik" or other hat. A simple veil, (or one embroidered in silk and/or pearls and gold) is appropriate, but it should be rectangular and worn closely draped around the head, with ends dangling over the shoulders.
Head kerchiefs: "Platok," the square or almost square decorative
head kerchief known in the
Lapti: Bark shoes, "lapti," were worn only by peasants and lasted a week at the most. In the city, even the poorer people wore leather boots and shoes.
Male headwear: Men wore hats that were cylindrical and very tall, or round and close about the head.
Pants: In period, men did not wear wide “sharovary” pants known later and popular in the SCA. Period trousers, “porty,” were narrow and always worn inserted into boots or leg wraps.
Sarafany: The popular sarafan dress is not conclusively proven to be known until the 1600s. There is some evidence that sleeveless dresses appeared in late period as a derivation of shubka-type garments that lost their long sleeves. This means that a period sarafan was not held up on straps, but was a one-piece garment with a cut-out neckhole, put on over the head.
Shirts: A male shirt in period did not necessarily have an opening to one side. Left, right, or center openings are all correct. Female shirts did not acquire puffy sleeves gathered at the wrist until at least late 17th century. The cut of a Russian shirt for male or female was all on straight lines, rectangular construction, with some triangular gores. All shirts were either collarless or with a standing collar. A separate decorative collar could be attached as well.
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Koshliakova, T. N. Muzhskie rubahi kontsa XVI – nachala XVII v. iz pogrebeniy tsaria Fedora Ivanovicha, tsarevicha Ivana Ivanovicha, I kniazia M. V. Skopina-Shuyskogo v Arhangelskom Sobore Moskovskogo Kremlia (Men’s shirts of the end of the XVI – beginning of the XVII centuries from the graves of the tsar Fedor Ivanovich, tsarevich Ivan Ivanovich, and duke M. V. Skopin-Shoyskiy in the Archangel Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin ). In Rabinovich, M. G. (ed.) Drevniaia Odezhda Narodov Vostochnoy Evropy. Nauka, Moskow, 1986, pp 248-253.
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