Class Distinctions in Early Rus

by Sofya la Rus, Mka Lisa Kies
Updated 7 April 2007

9th-13th Century Peasant Costume:

    The costume of female peasants consisted of the long rubakha. Married women and maiden-bride’s wore also a checked loin garment, that was later called the povyova. On the head of maidens were the venets or koruna, for married women the povoj, kika or kokoshnik. On the feet, lapty with leg wraps [onuchi] or leather porshni, or, now and then, chereviki. (Rabinovich)

    Ethno-territorial differences of women’s peasant costume, traced evidently to ancient tribal isolation, expressed rather distinctly in the set of ornaments [priveski], the pattern of the ponyova, and method of weaving the lapty. The most important mark of these differences were the set of bronze or silver ornaments [priveski], the decoration of the hairdo and headdress, the combination of beads in the necklace, and several types of rings [perstni] (figure 13). Thus, for the Krivichi., the favorite were temple ornaments in the form of rather large rings (archaeologists call them bracelet–shaped [браслетообразный]) with a few at each site of a face (or, according to some information, intertwined in the hair on the sides in a row from one ear to the other) and a necklace [ozhelrl’e] of gold and silver glass beads. The Novgorod Slovenes wore temple ornaments similar to Krivichi., but with rhomboid ornamental widenings (so called rhombo-shield-type). Their beads were many-side, crystal and silver. Living in the basin of the Oka River, the Vyatichi wore in a similar way, seven-bladed ornaments (a full set of them was seven items, 3 on one sidae and 4 on the other side of the face) and a necklace [ozher’ye] of pinkish [розоватый] bi-pyramidal carnelian [сердоликовый – a type of chalcedony of red or orange color] and white sphere-shaped crystal or glass beads. Their western neighbors, the Radimichi, wore similar seven-bladed ornaments. Further to the west, the Severlianins wore temple ornaments of wire, turned into the form of a spiral. For the Drevlianin on the Volyna [river?] the favorite were small wire rings (so called ring-shaped [перстнеобразный]). One to two such rings were worn also by women of other tribes, but for the Drevlianians a lot of them were worn. (Rabinovich)

    Living in Poles’e, the Dregovichi wore temple ornaments with beads copper grains assumed [напскными] (Artsikhovskij, 1930, p. 7-88). Several searchers consider the separate kinds of priveski-amulets also to be tribal marks (Zhurzhalina, 1961). Along with these types of ornaments characteristic for specific tribal dress, were also all-Slavic ornaments. The most ancient of these L. Niderle considers the so-called ehsovidnye [s-shaped] priveski, widespread also among the western Slavs (Niederle, 1913a, Tab. XXIX, 10, 11). But for our theme, probably the more interesting priveski are those appearing in the 12th and 13th centuries and already having no particular characteristic for any ancient tribe. Such 3-bead-temple rings, priveski with 3 smooth or openwork spherical beads, were created evidently in Kiev and spread widely in all the territory of ancient Rus. This is an example of the influence of urban fashion, displacing gradually the traditional tribal ornaments. Not for nothing, precisely in the ancient territory of the Polianin tribe around Kiev is generally absent the characteristics of particular traditional costume during the period examined by us. Similar occurrences were also in other areas of ancient Rus. Thus, the traditional seven-bladed ornaments of the Vyatichi received at first, new elements of ornament in the form of stylized depictions of letters on the blades, and later still a newer form, turned into a still more fancy large openwork metal plate with different numbers of grown-together blades and stylized figures of animals (Artsikhovskij, 1947, p. 80-81; Rabinovich, 1962, p. 61-69; Levashova, 1967, p. 7-54; Nedoshivina, 1969, p. 118-121). One can think that these priveski were also the work of urban (probably Moscow) workshops. (Rabinovich)

    Concerning beads, many of them were imported already in the time of the domination of traditional tribal dress (Fekhner, 1959, p. 162). But some were the favorite decorations of a few tribes, while others were widespread among many tribes. To the latter is connected the so called fish-shaped beads of blue glass originating in Central Asia. (Rabinovich)

    In the future the traditional set of beads were replaced by beads of urban manufacture. More long life had temple ornaments, which it is true, were strongly changed in form, losing their metallic manner of execution, and serving as details of peasant women’s headdress, “pushkov” and “per’ev” (in the south), and embroidery of kokoshniki (in north) (Grinkova, 1959, page 40). (Rabinovich)

    Stable turned out also the traditional method of weaving loin clothing and the plaiting of lapty. Still in the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century in the southern Russian provinces, by the color scheme and size of the checked pattern of ponyova could be recognized peasants from definite regions and even from specific villages (Maslova, 1956, page 621). Preserved in Ryazan, Tombov, Orlov and Kaluga provinces were blue checked panovas, to our opinion, especially connected by researchers with the ancient tribal dress of the Vyatichi; adjoining this region from the west is the territory where was preserved the povyova of red checks, still laying in ancient lands of the Radimichi (Lebedeva N.I., 1956, p. 535-536, figure 35 map). An analogous picture could be seen on a map of the widespread lapty. From the territory of the Vyatichi primarily coincided the Moscow type of lapti of angled weave, somewhat more widely in the territory of the Radimichi was the Belorus type of lapty of straight weave, in ancient Novgorod land dominated the northern type, also of the angle weave, but with narrow sides (Maslova, 1956, p. 716-719). (Rabinovich)

    The costume of ancient Russian peasants was original and beautiful. One could present, for example, the women of Ryazan or Moscow lands, the ancient territory of the Vyatichi, in a white rubakha with red embroidery, blue-checked ponyova, elaborate headdress, decorated with embroidery and appliques of gold Byzantine fabric, with white silver or reddish bronze ornaments, in a necklace of rose colored carnelian and white crystal beads, and sometimes even with a grivna on the neck. On the fingers of the hand, enamel and lattice rings, on the wrists, bronze bracelets. And the outfit of peasants of more western lands (for example, Gomel’shchina) was still more red, inasmuch as the povyova was in a red check. (Rabinovich)

    It is necessary to note, however, that this was festival (more precisely even, wedding) dress, in which women were also buried. Everyday clothing had to be not always combined with such a rich ornament. In general, tribal decoration such as the ponyova, was worn by a married women and maiden-brides. The burials of girls, who have not yet reached full maturity, such decorations usually do not contain. In them are found only small little wire rings, plaited in the braids of all Slavic tribes (Latysheva, 1954, p. 54). Preserved still in the 19th to 20th centuries, the ceremony of the maiden putting on the povyova (sometimes before the very wedding) allows us to suppose that in distant past such a ritual initiation was connected with putting on the distinctive parts of clothing and decoration. That certainly concerns women’s headdress, the putting on of which composed the main part of the wedding ritual, the function of it known to all. (Rabinovich)

    Significantly more modest was men’s peasant costume. It consisted of pants and shirt [штанов and рубахи], long to the knee and belted with a strap-belt or tied belt, on which was carried (sometimes on special bronze rings) different necessary items, which modern men carry in pockets: fire steel, combs, sometimes a small knife, etc.. The only ancient tribal mark in men’s clothing (if we do not consider lapty) was the belt buckle (for example, for Viatichi were characteristic “lyre-shaped” forms). On the head, peasant men wore felt hats, sometimes with sewn-on ornaments, and on the feet, lapty with puttees [онучи] or stockings [ногавицы], or more rarely, chereviki. Such was peasant next-to-skin clothing in which, in warm times, was even worn outdoors (Figure 14). In cold times, men and women wore sermyagi [сермяги] of coarse wool fabric, the men, votolu [cloak]; in winter frost, kozhukhy and sheepskin hats. (Rabinovich)

13th-17th Century Peasant Costume:
    Direct or indirect descriptions of peasant costume in written sources survive to us not earlier then the 17th century. In the year 1649 in the city of Shuya “in the planting” was found a dead body, obviously the body of the peasant. “Dress on it kaftanishko armyachnoe [camel wool fabric] smuro [dark mixed color – brown-black-gray] lightweight, a rubashenko and pants [porty] and gray trousers [shtany], thin gray leg wraps, on truschenko [trusy and trusiki are undershorts] poyasnenko [poyas = belt] and zhichenoe (that is of colored wool yarns. – M. R.), and lapti and a cross on him was not” – this, undoubtedly, was the dress of poor peasant, in which he would come to town. In 1628 V. Ya Vorontsov complained that on the road from the city of Shuya he was robbed by peasants – village elder Ondryushka Efremov, “chelovek” (probably, a house serf) Oleshka Semenov and peasant Potapko Dement’ev. On the village elder was “kaftan of wool homespun, kaftan of sheepskin, warm, cap azure broadcloth nastrafil’no [cheaply made?], mittens sheepskin”, on the peasant – “kaftan wool homespun, kaftan sheepskin, hat cherry broadcloth lundysh [?] on fox”. Here is a enumerated only the upper clothing. But it is important to note that the warm fur kaftan served as a winter road [travel] garment and that peasant hats were of better quality than the remainder of the dress; they, evidently, were valued and had, as we may now say, prestige meaning. It is interesting to compare color: light blue odnoryadka, red kaftan and cherry hat of the house serf, the “naked”, in all probability, caftan of the village elder and the peasant in their hats – azure and cherry. (Rabinovich)

    In depictions of peasants one may differentiate a rather short (to knee) upper garment – zipun or kaftan, from under which was sometimes visible the sleeves of the rubakha. Often peasants are depicted also in one rubakha, especially at work (plowing, sowing, building (fig. 31-32). The rubakha is relatively short (a little higher than the knee), and belted; the sleeves narrow, at the hands buttoned/fasted or tied (ZhS, l. 128, 150 ob.) (Rabinovich)

    Peasant women are depicted in all, one time – in the book of A. Mejerberg (mid 17th cent.). On “muscovite peasant woman” – kichka-shaped headdress, long rubakha, appearing from under a ponyova with fringe. The set of women’s clothing with ponyova is recorded in 1678 in Voronezhskaya Street, again among stolen property: “rubakha, ponyova, pokrom (that is the edge of some fabric, possibly the towel-like headdress – M.R.)”. (Rabinovich)

    There is an interesting inventory of peasant property, containing also different objects of clothing. For exampled, in the izba [Russian log cabin] of peasant living in Voronezh in a chest lay “linen hemp 4, remains of linen alenoj [scarlet?], scarf muslin, tablecloth hemp, edge/selvedge “cochineal”, kodman [women’s jacket? colored rubakha?], ponyova, delanka [?], womens alenaya [scarlet?] rubakha, 2 women’s hemp rubakhas, skein yarn of blue cloth [?], women’s branaya [sewn?] polka [width of cloth?], women’s silver rings 3, iron sheath [knife?], sickles 6, platter wood 4”. If one does not consider the horse fetters, all the remaining is specifically women’s property, among which also a full set of modest clothing. In other inventories of peasant property we find: “shapka martin, vershik [?] red of good broadcloth, linen 1000 cubits, rubashki [shirts] 20”; “2 sukmana [broadcloth (sukno) kaftan or sarafan or garment made of sukanina], 10 rubakh”; kaftans warm 3, kaftans wool homespun 3, odnoyadki 2, telogreya warm 2, shapka women’s 2, rubakha men’s and women’s 12, portok [pants?] 6, novin [unbleached linen] 10. This is clothng of a peasant of a Yaroslavskoj manor lady. (Rabinovich)

    Peasant clothing is found also in wedding contracts. As, in 1612 in s. Baranov Kubenskyj vol. was entered, evidently in every second marriage, peasants of Spaso-Prilutskoj monastery. For the wife was “broadcloth on odnoryadka blue nastrafil’ [настрафиль ?], and shushun very cold [студеной] broadcloth green worn, and odnoryadka kept, and shushun warm worn, and ozherel’e pearl, and for it 6 buttons, and 2 women’s shapki damask azure and red, one with lace pearl, and two earrings silver with pearls gilded, and for 4 daughters a pair each of earrings…” For the groom “odnoryadka nastrafil’, and earring twin and single red stone gilded silver” (AYu, No 395, p. 419-420). The old men’s things of the wife, and the earrings of the husband were evidently left from their first marriages. These peasants were not poor, but clothing at that time was all kept and carefully accounted. (Rabinovich)

    In descriptions of a dowry of a rather wealthy bride from Rovogor’ya in northern Dvina (1647) we find: “shushun broadcloth red with fancy dress [с нарядом] of value 4 rubles… krashennik [dyed linen?] with fancy dress of value 20 altyn… 1 ½ ruble for shapka and lace on hat pearl value 1 ruble and another shapka cotton cloth light blue value 10 altyn… boots calfskin red with silk and other prishvy [boot tops? Sewn items?] value 2 polotina [a 50 kopeck coin]… koshel’ki (that is, earring plaited of pearl – M.R.) value 2 rubles, searrings silver under gold with chain silver with two crosses value 8 grivna… a chest with linens value 5 rubles” (AGO, I, No 3, l. 21-21 ob.). We did not skip showing the price of things in order to show that here is described 2 sets of women’s clothing – holiday and simple. The first – a red shushun, hat with pearl lace, red boots – supplemented by pearl earrings and cost almost 9 rubles – in that time not minor money. It is possible, that in this “chervchatom” [cochineal red] outfit planned even to marry. The second – krasheninnik, light blue had, prishvy, gilded silver earrings – cost less than 2 rubles. It must be that this was everyday clothing. We note, that both suits appear as outfits with sarafans [the shushun and krasheninnik]. (Rabinovich)

    The cited materials, unfortunately, are fragmentary and do not give a complete picture in geographic connections. But, is appears, one can say that in the 17th cent. existed still 2 sets of women’s costume, characteristic also for later times. On sorochka and upper clothing in the south they wore ponyova (it spread from Moscow to the south); in the north – the sarafan. As upper garment served the svita, kortel’ and shuba. For women more often than for men are noted leather shoes – sapogi, bashmaki, koty. Men’s peasant costume was monotonous. Over the sorochka [shirt] and porty [pants] was wore still shtany [trousers] and (evidently not always) another rubakha. Over this rubakha was worn a zipun or kaftan, and in winter – another kaftan (on fur) or shuba. Shoes usually consisted of lapti with onuchi, boots were rare. The most fancy was the shapka, which evidently, was usually not made at home, at least, not made of homespun fabric, as the other garments; the hat cost, as we have seen, a lot. In birchbark letters of the 2nd half of the 13th cent. is recorded shapka with value of 13 grivny, that is almost 1 ½ pounds of silver. Objects of urban style, even such widely spread as the odnoryadka, are met almost exclusively for manorial servants. For us there is no information about the cut of the peasant kaftan, but here we also, as in the case with the sarafan, have issue with the spread of an eastern term “kaftan” on an old garment, called at one time svita. (Rabinovich)


9th-13th Century City-Dwellers Costume:
    Urban costume of that time was formed on the foundation of the village costume. For ordinary female city dwellers, it was the same long rubakha, loin clothing of the ponyova type, the headdress, povoj, kika or kokoshniki, and on the feet, for the most part, boots. Depictions of the dancing women on bracelets of the 12th century (figure 15) allow us to see that the povyova could be tucked up in front, showing the richly embroidered helm of the rubakha (Mongajt, 1967, Fig. 19; Rabinovich, 1978, p. 158, Fig. 9). Both the rubakha and the ponyova were closed up under a belt and reach to the ankle or to the calf. A. V. Artsikhovskij considered that the man’s rubakha in the city was shorter than that in villages (Artsikhovskij, 1948, p. 241), not reaching the knee. (Rabinovich)

    The ornaments of city dwellers and this time were extremely close to those of traditional peasants. However, little by little, there became widespread new things, about which we have already spoken. These were priveski in the form of rings with attached beads, which could decorate the headdress, but it seems more often were put through the ear lobe, earrings. In the city, all the more widespread was the fashion to decorate the wrists. Besides traditional metal hopes, in the 12th century there appeared wide metal-plate cast-silver bracelets with depictions of the rusalka dances (Rybakov, 1967, p. 93) (Fig. 16). But probably still more specifically urban were many-colored glass bracelets, which were worn in many numbers on each arm not only by the rich but also ordinary city women. Pieces of glass bracelets are found in the hundreds, and in large cities in the thousands. One must think that these bracelets were inexpensive, they way they were discarded, and broken. In the peasant graves they are met very rarely and even close to the city, not more than one piece of the set. (Rabinovich)

    It is interesting to compare decorations found in large cities with those in small cities. In the latter are met ornaments of traditional form, like those usually worn by the neighboring village population. For example, in Ekimautsa, temple rings of the Tivertsi and, in Moscow and Peremyshla Moscow, Vyatichi type. In larger cities, reaching already significant growth in the 10th century, are met ornaments belonging to different sets (for example, in Polianin Kiev, decorations of the Tivertsi, and in Novgorod, decorations of the Vyatichi and Radimichi etc.) (Fedrov, 1953, p. 150-151; Rabinovich, 1978, p. 67-68). This might show that in large cities could be met women of different origins, wearing each her own traditional decoration, or that different types of decoration could come into one set, belonging to one woman, that is in a blending of ancient ethno-territorial types of ornament. But the disappearance of ancient tribal isolation interests of city women occurred mainly on account of the spread of new, purely urban forms, about which we spoke above. Man’s costume in the city also, as women’s, was closely tied to peasant costume and consisted mainly of rubakha and pants, but going outside, city dwellers, evidently wore also the svita. Clothing was supplemented by the hat and boots. An interesting list of items worn is in receipts given out the first half of the 13th century to Novgorodian moneylender for a certain Grishka and Kosta: “ A Grishna kozhukhe, svita, sortsitsa,, shyapka. A Kostina svita, sorotsitsa… A sapgi Kostini. A drougii Grishkini” (Artsikhovskij, Borkovskij, 1958, letter 141, p. 17). Here is enumerated the whole set of men’s costume excluding the pants: sorochka [shirt, rubakha], svita, shapka, sapogi, kozhukh. (Rabinovich)

    Probably the rubakha and possibly, also the svita, were belted. Finds of belt buckles in cities are not rare. City dwellers, like peasants, wore outdoors the sleeveless cloak, votola and, in winter, kozhukh (men and women). (Rabinovich)

13th-17th City Dwellers' Costume:
    About urban clothing, in the details of clothing of ordinary citizens of the 13-15 cent., we can judge mainly by depictions. In the first place here – ornaments and initials of Novgorod manuscripts of the 14th cent., where are met extremely realistic depictions of city dwellers, mainly without headdress, in rather short – to the knee – upper garments, cut fitted to the waist, belted with sashes; sleeves of garment in some cases are short (may be, rolled up?), from under which are visible narrow, clinging-to-arm sleeves of rubakha. Artist showed also embroidery (or attached cuffs? [zapyast’ya]). All city dwellers were shod in boots of various colors. Sometimes people are shown in rubakhas, usually a different color than the shtany (for example white rubakha with yellow belt and blue shtany, also dark-blue rubakha. In one depiction there is a person in a sheepskin coat [tulup]. To the 14th century is related also the famous sculpture self-portrait of Novgorod master-metalcaster Avram. The artisan shows himself in boots and upper open-down-the-front garment of the type svita, zipun or kaftan, belted with a belt (in three turns with tassels) and reaching the knee. A.V. Artsikhovskij considered that on Abram is a rubakha, and not an upper garment. But the lapel/front flap is clearly visible. (Rabinovich)

    Sources of the 17th cent. keep lists of objects of clothing. Thus, in enserfment record of a nizhegorodskoj landowning person, dated to 1684, says that in leaving a period of servitude the master must “give in land parcel to one, Aleksej, and to my wife and children our clothing: kaftan shubnyj, kaftan wool homespun, shapka, mittens, sapogi”, for wife – “telogreya, rastegaj (sarafan? – M.R.) kumashnyj [cotton fabric? kumachnyj?], treukh [type of hat], bashmaki, chyulki and for our children the same”. This custom – the departing worker, “shod, dressed, as people are kept” – was, evidently, very durable and widespread. The master-artisan in ending the period of study had to supply the student/apprentice not only with the necessary instruments, but also clothing. A bail/surety letter about the appearance in court of city of Uglich in 1675 enumerated all these things: hat with down, kaftan wool homespun, kaftan shubnyj, mittens, belt.  However, in the given case is not stated, if these things (valued at 3 ½ rubles) belong to enslaved serf or artisan student, but it isstill clear that this is a set of upper clothing of an ordinary city dweller. And an example in the same time in the city of Voronezh in homes of landed people among items described in a chest of property we meet: “rubakha mens 2, portki 1, rubakha women’s hemp 2… kodman… tulup [coat] sheepskin… shapka mens with sable… 6 sarafans (3 red, yellow, cherry, and azure), rubakha womens scarlet [аленая]… 2 gold soroki [women’s headdress] (of them 1 new), earrings, monisto [necklace] with crosses, 5 silver corsses, 4 women’s rings [perstni], silver chain, scarf [plat] muslin, 2 scarlet scarves [platka], sewn with silk shirinka [little kerchief]… 4 shirinki sewn with silk, 2 scarlet linen hat scarves [шапочных платок] and 6 half-finished boots” (“boots beef cut, not sewn”), and also in every home – materials (linen, dyed linen, etc.) in pieces, skeins of yarn – hemp, wool, silk, etc. In property of a city dweller was everything for weaving, sewing and embroidering clothing and even parts for boots. (Rabinovich)

    From what is present, it is evident that the costume of ordinary city dwellers consisted of porty and sorochki, rubakhi and shtany, zipun or kaftan (Fig. 34). The kaftan was belted with a sash. The outdoor upper outfit consisted of, in cold times, shubnoj (fur) kaftan or sheepskin shuba, on the head – a shapka (rather valuable), on the hands – mittens [rukavitsy]. The kaftan and zipun often were wool homespun, that is of homewoven rough broadcloth. In a word, poor city dwellers were dress the same as peasants, but a fundamental difference in their costume was in the boots, almost excluding from the city lapti. For this we do not find large territorial differences: in Voronezh, Moscow, Shuya, Uglich, Nizhnyj Novgorod, Novgorod the Great, we meet all the same list of items of men’s costume. Stronger was differentiated from ancient women’s costume. One must say, that the material about it is more scant, than about men’s costume, but even for poor women (including the family of an enslaved bondsman) in not one of the recorded cities not once was was named the poneva, however, as we saw earlier, in rural places south of Moscow it still widely existed. In the city, in this period was firmly established the set of women’s clothing with the sarafan (in different variations). (Rabinovich)

    Still one important difference in urban clothing was the clear revelation in it of clothing specifically for children. The opinion of researchers about this, is that a unique garment of children of both sexes was a long rubakha (Gilyarovskaya, 1945, p. 11), based, probably, on study of peasant clothing of later time and on one statement of A. Olearij. In Ladoga in 1634 this traveler was astonished that “all – both girls and boys – were in short-cut hair, with curls, haing from both sides, and in long rubakhas, such that never were distinguished boys from girls” (Olearij, p. 18). About this same says also several depictions about which will discuss ahead. But in written sources of the 17th cent., we find not only “rubashki child’s” or “child’s” [ревачьи vs детинные], but also “two kaftantsa valuable children’s”. And “shuba sheepskin child’s new” and even “tafejka [skullcap?] childs broadcloth red”. True, these records are rare and usually related to wealthy families, but all the same, one must think that if children of peasants and the urban poor darted about in one rubashka, that for children of nobles and generally wealthy people were sewn clothing in general the same as for adults. Regarding shoes, one can say more definitely, because finds of children’s shoes among archeological excavations are frequent. For children were sewn the same boots as for adults, but obviously, smaller in size. In excavations, therefore, one can find, for example, the front of a large men’s boot, from which was cut out a small child’s sole. (Rabinovich)


9th-13th Century Elite Costume:
    The clothing of elite city dwellers, nobles and rich merchants, were supplemented by many objects which were not worn either by peasants or by city dwellers of the lower classes. This applied primarily to upper clothing worn indoors for celebratory events, and in particular, for garments worn outside. Only prince Svyatoslav Igorevich, the simplicity of form of life which was emphasized in the Russian chronicle, could appear at a meeting with the Byzantine emperor in an emphatically not rich clothing. (Rabinovich)

    “Beard on him was not,” wrote Byzantine historian Lev Diakon, “but above on his lip a thick excessive abundance of hair. His head was completely bare; on one side of it hung a lock, signifying nobile origin; in one ear hung a gold earring decorated with two pearls with a ruby in the middle. His clothing was white with nothing else distinguishing it apart from cleanliness” (Cit.. in: Artsikhovskij, 1948, p. 243-244). Prince and svita were, evidently, in linen with a white shirt and pants. The whiskers and one forelock of the prince are well known later among Zaporozhe “oseledets”. The single item of luxury was the gold earring with precious stones. (Rabinovich)

    But in the same 10th century, Arabian author Ibn Fadlan noted that funeral clothing of elite Slavs was very rich. In the preparation was used up approximately 1/3 of the property. He wrote that before placing the body of the dead in the ship, “they dressed on it loose trousers [шаровары], and gaiters [гетры], and boots and jacket [куртку] and a kaftan of brocade with buttons of gold, and on the head a hat of brocade and stable” (Ibn Fadlan, page E.-81). If we do not pay attention to the foreign terms used by this Eastern writer (for example “kaftan”, “sharovary” or “kalansuva” - hat), we see here the almost whole complex of clothing of ancient Russian elite: pants and shirt (which here, possibly is being called kurtka), stockings [nogovitsy] and boots, upper formal open-front clothing with precious buttons and a hat with sable trim. Not recorded only the upper sleeveless cloak, korzno. But then again, in another place Ibn Fadlan says, evidently, precisely about such a cloak, with which Slavs “covered one side, allowing one of his arms to go out from it” (Ibn Fadlan, page 80-81). The cloak covering the whole figure, which Ibn Fadlan called “kisa”, was also, probably, the reason that other objects of clothing were not then noted (“they wore neither jacket nor kaftan”), he wrote later. (Rabinovich)

    Ancient depictions of nobles, about which we have already spoken, allow us to suppose the formal costume of men was a long calf-length cloak, are under which was visible, wrapping the body, clothing of the svita type and also colored boots, and a half-spherical hat edged with fur. The korzno and svita, of expensive Byzantine material, was edged with galloon. The mention of bare [исподней] rubakha of the prince allows us to conclude that the nobility wore as next-to-skin garment the same rubakha and pants that ordinary people did, but. as justly supposes A. V. Artsikhovskij, of expensive material. He notes also that patterns and shades of fabrics of the various parts of the princely costume were selected very carefully. The most smart were considered clothing and shoes of various hues of red color, “chchervlenye” (vermilion) and “bagryanye” (carmine). (Artsikhovskij, 1948, p. 248, 252-255) and the very word “red” meant “beautiful”. (Rabinovich)

    Women’s rich costume was composed of a long (to the ankle) rubakha or dress (under which could be a another rubakha), over which they wore sometimes still another dress [dalmatica or letnik?], belted with a gold belt, but shorter and with more wide sleeves, so that was still visible the richly decorated hem and sleeve cuff of the lower garment. This clothing was supplemented by a long cloak, fastened at the right shoulder, similar to the korzna, and a povoj and colored boots (Fig. 1 colored). (Rabinovich)

    In large Russian cities where there were many rich people are found in large numbers silver and gold women’s ornaments. Sometimes they are even buried in the earth as hoards. (Rabinovich)

    The headdress of rich urban women was decorated with precious kolti, in the ears were earrings, on the neck was the grivna and ozherl’ya [necklace] of beads of artistic jewelers work, and on the arms were wide massive bracelets. In the costume of rich ancient Russian urban women we find neither the ponyova, nor tribal ornaments. (Rabinovich)

13-17th Century Elites:
    We look now, at how is reflected the set of rich clothing in different types of sources. In 1638, Yaroslav female landowner M.A. Ulova gave complaint about a theft from a peasant shed. Among the stolen is given: “letnik kindyashnyj [red cotton], and letnik valuable with voshvy [decorative appliqués], telogreya kindyashnaya on rabbit fur, telogreya valuable chervchataya [“cochineal”] on squirrel, ozherel’e pearl, buttons silver gilded, ozerel’e black braid with buttons, necklace [monisto] on it 15 crosses, 15 rings silver, shapka women’s sewn on satin chervchatomu [“cochineal”], 3 earrings, linen fabric 30, rubashki women’s 20 and stannykh [standing?] rubakhas 2, rubashek men’s 3 – two sewn with button loops, and the 3rd – insertion/inserted, two belts sewn with tassels, 2 ubrusy embroidered”. Among all this property one can define as if there were two women’s costumes – kindyachnyj (letnik and telogreya) and sukonnyj [broadcloth] (valuable – also letnik and red telogreya). For each was its own ozherel’e. And this is what could be kept in the home of a rather wealthy noble. The thief stole from Andrej Aristov in a list of other property men’s, women’s, children’s clothing and “lyudskuyu”, that is, in this case evidently, houseserf clothing. Probably, to the aristocrat belongs the 16 rubakhas, of which 6 were sewn with gold, kaftan, 2 shuby, shapka, 2 treukh [hat]. For the aristocrat’s wife – 5 rubakhas, 4 sarafans, 10 kokoshniks, a telgreya, an okhaben’, a shuba and urnaments – crosses, rings, eaarings. For the child – 2 of the recorded above rubakhas, 2 kaftans, a shuba. For the servant – sarafan, 3 wool homespun and 4 sheepskin kaftans. If such a reserve of clothing had to be kept, evidently by a not very wealthy noble, so he could present himself, what were the storehouses of clothing for the great princely and tsarist court, from which stand out luxurious dress of courtiers and “little boyars” [дети боярскийe] for taking part in various ceremonies? (Rabinovich)

    In the middle of the 16th cent. one Novgorodian pawned for 6 rubles “odnoryadka barova [?] scaled [аспидна?] belt on it gold, buttons taffeta, telogreya marten under damask, damask on a “cochineal” ground patterned silk ore-yellow [рудожелт], torlop [fur-lined letnik] white belly fur and on it damask kufter’ [an eastern fabric] light blue, voshvy velvet [aksamit] gold, ozherel’e women’s on black braid made with silver volochonym [wire?], cuff with silver sewn and gold, ptur (Kaptur? – M.R.) sable” – all new. If one does not consider the odnorydaka, which could be either women’s or men’s, before us is a set of upper women’s clothing. In 1576, streltsy commander pawned to Spaso-Prilutskyj monastery for 16 rubles shubka “women’s green bryukshina [a sarafan], letnik damask “cochineal” voshvy velvet green with gold, torlop martin, and on them voshvy [actually, says povoloki but see below] valuable azure voshvy velvet colored kaptur sable naked and two tablecloths [skaterti], one embroidered, and the other branaya [patterned weave]”. Here is a full set of rich women’s clothing. The combination of colors draws attention: green sarafan, red letnik with green voshvy with gold, a torlop of dark fur with light blue voshvy, a hood [kapor] of dark fur. Possibly not less risky combination of colors could be seen also in men’s costume. Late fall 1644 in the town Bol’shie Soli (former Kostromskoj uezd) was robbed a certain A. Deryabin. Besides a belt, was taken a cherry odnoryadka with silver gilded buttons, a yellow valuable feryaz’ with silk “cochineal” lace and cuffs, an azure epancha, a “cochineal” with sable shapka, in other words, all that he was wearing except the lower garments and boots. Here is clearly visible, how was dressed the city dweller on a cold fall day: over the rubakha – cherry odnoryadka, on it yellow with red feryaz’, and above – azure raincoat and a red with sable shapka. (Rabinovich)

    We already spoke about the abundance of wardroom of noble and wealthy people. But in a list of things – in wills, inventories of dowries, etc. – one can find descriptions of the set of costume both for women and for men. For example, in the inventory of the very rich dowry of the daughter of V.I. Bastranov, which was given out in 1668 in the city of Shuya for stol’nik [a title] prince F.F. Shcherbatov, was set apart a special section where enumerated things set aside as traditional “mylennyj [clean?] gift” for the newlywed. “And to myl’ne [clean?] dress: sorochki with porty and ozherel’i, ozerel’ya strung on 6 ends, with bottons 2 yakhont azure [sapphire] and emerald, fastened grains burmitskimi [small freshwater pearls], okhaben’ moiré cranberry with lace silver, obrastsy [обрасцы, overgrown?] strung, ferez satin colored on sable, nashivka [stripe] kizilbashskaya [kizil is dogwood or cornel cherry or…], kaftan satin yellow cold, buttons obniznye [?], ozherel’e standing obniznoe, shapka green velvet with edging and with loops pearl, shtany damask “cochineal”, chulki [stockings] silk, bashmaki [shoes] ‘cochineal’” (Ash, No 103, p. 188). This is a full (excluding the shuba) set of rich men’s clothing, which without shame was worn even by prince Shcherbatov. Underwear – sorochki and porty, evidently, also upper richly embroidered sorochka (required a multiple quantity), to it, evidently, the ozherel’e luxurious with precious stones, which is describe in detail, and red silk shtany, silk chulki and red bashmaki. Upper clothing – yellow satin kaftan with another pearl ozherel’e. Thus the prince could walk at home, while going outdoors, he wore also a sable satin feryaz’ or okhaben’ of cranberry color (and maybe, both the feryaz’ an the okhaben’) and green velvet hat. However, in formal situations the prince even at home could wear all of the recorded items at once. (Rabinovich)

    In rich dowries often was not listed sarafans. But custom listed telogreyas and shubas over one [через одну – an extra one?], however telogreya is sometimes “cold”, and all this makes one think that here is described some variation of the same sarafan set of women’s costume, that the telogreya and shuba made up one outfit. For example, in Penza in 1701, a girl from the family Yumatovaya received in a dowry kindyachnaya shuba on rabbit fur, kindyachnaya telogreya, damask new shuba on squirrel, hat Polish with marten, a martin treukh [hat]. (Rabinovich)

    And here such an impression was conveyed by Russian clothing on foreign travelers. The majority of those known relate to rich clothing of city dwellers (most often of all – nobility), which, naturally caught the gaze first of all. At the end of the 16th cent. G. Fletcher described rather detailed men’s and women’s costume. The men’s rubakha “richly decorated with embroidery because in summer they at home wear it alone”, open-front silk zipun, long to knee, narrow, long to ankle kaftan “with Persian sash, on which carry knife and spoon”; lined with fur feryaz’ or okhaben’, very long with sleeves and collar, decorated with stones. Over all, as write Fletcher, is worn odnoryadka of thin broadcloth without a collar. On the legs – Moroccan leather boots with leg wraps. The foreinger noticed also the maner of wear on the head richly embroidered taf’ya, which he calld “night cap”. “On neck, always unadorned,” he wrote also, “is worn ozherel’e from prescious stones width in 3 or 4 fingers”. From the Englishman did not sli away even social difference: “for boyar dress is all gold, for dvoryan sometimes only the kaftan brocade, and all the rest broadcloth. “Muzhiki” (evidently, all city dwellers, not peasants, as follows from further description) dressed very poorly: under odnoryadka for them – kozhukh “of crude white or blue broadcloth”, on the head – fur had, on the legs – boots. “A woman, when she wants to dress up, wears a red or blue dress and under it a warm fur shuba in winter, while in summer – only 2 rubakhas one on the other both at home and going out from the yard. On the head they wear shapka of whatever colored material, many also of velvet or gold brocade, but for the most part a head band [povyaska]. Without earrings silver or of other metal and without a cross on the neck you do not see women, neither married nor maidens”. On the head of women, writes Fletcher, a band of taffeta, most often – red, over it – white ubrus, hten – shapka “in form of headdress of gold brocade” with fur edging, pearls and stones. Recently noble women stopped stringing hats with pearls, because the wives of deacons and merchants were imitating them. In the ears of women are earrings “in 2 inches and more”. In summer they wear linen white covering, “tied up at chin with 2 hanging tassels”, strung with pearls. In rain women wore shlyapi with colored ties. On the neck – ozherel’e, on the hands/arms – cuffs [zapyast’ya] “width of a finger or 2”. From upper women’s clothing Fletcher described the feryaz’ over which they wore the letnik with wide sleeves and brocade voshvy, on it – still the opashen with sleeves “to the ground”. Gold and silver buttons were, according to Fletcher, “like walnuts”. The outfit was supplemented by sapozhki [little boots] of white, yellow, light blue “or other color leather, embroidered with pearls”. We see, that foreigners could not always analyze the names, cut and order of the various upper men’s and women’s garments, or the complex construction of women’s headdress, but as a whole the keenness of their powers of observation allowed him to compose a true presentation about the costume and the manner of its wear. Fletcher saw, certainly, the towel-like headdress and kokoshniks. He beautifully captured also the manner of wearing for portliness possibly more garments, one on another, and the richness of various pearled ornaments and embroidery – from boot to shapka. (Rabinovich)

    After more than 100 years, in 1689, B. Tanner also describe men’s and women’s clothing with very long, gathered in folds sleeves (for men he called it “svitka”), high men’s shapka, shlyapi and over them – a cover for women, colored boots (yellow, light blue, green, cheaper – black), “tightly envelope the leg”. He noticed also age differences (in particular, more short – above the knee – kaftan of young fellows). The richness and variety of Russian furs especially struck him. Tanner says not only of ermine, but also of furs “forest cat” (probably, lynx), fox, rabbit, dog and, of course, of black and white Astrakan sheepskin (Rabinovich)

    Portrayals of figures belonging to the higher levels of society are met often. We mention only a few. On Novgorod initials of the 14th cent. we see urban official figures: town crier with staff of authority and trumpet, various other magistrates with their staffs. All of them are dressed in long – to the shins – kaftans, evidently with fur edging, with wide belts. On the town crier – a formal, high kolpak [pointed hat], on the others – round shapki with fur edging. All are shod in boots (without heels). In the middle of the 15th cent. (1467) is dated a Novgorod icon on which (according to a custom widespread in the middle of the century) is depicted also the customers – donators – in this case – a whole family of noble Novgorodians. The men are dressed in long cloak-like garments with laid-down collars and decorative loops along the chest. Under these “cloaks” (as rightly noticed A.V. Artsikhovskij, strongly distinguished from ancient Russian korzna) are visible open-front garments of valuable fabric (a type of svita or kaftan), long to the knee, with skirt flaps obviously marked by the painter, belted with wide belts and narrow pants, tucked into boots. From under the upper garments are visible the white collar of the sorochka. The heads of the men are uncovered, the hair of each braided in one braid. The woman is also in a long cloak-like garment, boots or bashmaki, and a light-colored towel-like headdress. The children (two of them) are in white lower than the knee rubashki, belted with a red cord with tassels hanging in front. On another Novgorod icon on the shoulders of a man is thrown on also an open-front garment, but not cloak-like, and with long, freely hanging sleeves. A.V. Artsikhovskij is correct, naming these garments okhaben’. He mentions also that in book miniatures the dress of merchants, boyars, courtiers and prince, as a rule, is long, lower than the knee, at the same time as ordinary city dwellers and peasants are in shorter clothing. We already said, that peasants and ordinary city dwellers for the most part are shown without upper clothing. Probably, this convention, accepted by illustrators in order to emphasize social differences (we already brought in description of set of the set also of peasant costume, necessarily including the same objects of upper clothing). (Rabinovich)

    From all presented is visible that the set of clothing of the ruling class is distinguished first of all by the abundance and quality of things. If linens (porty, rubakha) differed from the ordinary person only in the quality of the material, then already the upper men’s and women’s sorochki, shtany, taf’ya, ubrusy, kichki, soroki and kokshniki were distinguished by richness of embroidery and valuable ornament, just as also the women’s shubka-sarafan, and the men’s zipun and kaftan. The remaining variety of upper garments which we already described, as a rule, ordinary people generally did not use (excluding the odnoryadka and simple shuba). For nobles and rich merchants such garments were worn many at the same time. It is necessary still to emphasize that women of the upper classes in this period, like city dwellers in general, never wore the poneva. (Rabinovich)

    The hairdo in this period was more stable for maidens and women (loose or even curled hair or braids of maidens; the “matron” hairdo – 2 plaited braids). However, one time in Novgorod even women were bareheaded [!], but against this fought the church. (Rabinovich)

    For men were various styles – both for time and for territory. We already said that in the 15th cent. in Novgorod the Great and Pskov (possibly, in all the Novgorod land) men also braided hair in one braid. The wear of beards, evidently, was accepted for mature people. People younger might or might not wear a beard. We note that in the Novgorod initials part are depicted beardless people, at that the beard was not worn not only by the fishermen, but also the town crier – an official figure. Interestingly a description of marked simultaneously 26 robbers (city Shuya, year 1641). More than 2/3 of them (18 people) wore a beard (indication of color – for example “chermna ikrasna”, in other words, as would say now, red-haired; “pale” – and size – “great”, “small”). About 2 was said, that “they shaved”, about one – “sechet” [slashed? torn? whipped?], about 4: “youths, beards none, still not shaving”, finally about one simply – “beard none”. Until 15-16th cent. the beard and long hair and dark color of clothing was not required even for clergy. (Rabinovich)


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