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Traditional Russian Dress
Transcript of Traditional Russian Dress
Dr. Sarah Altier
Volusia County Schools
From planting flax to harvesting it, then weaving, sewing, and embroidering, textiles of amazing beauty were produced by traditional Russian women.
Long-stemmed flax has been cultivated in northwestern Russia for centuries and is the best for acquiring fiber to be made into linen. The flax-to-linen process required an entire year. Time was an important consideration in planting the flax. Planting under a young moon was believed to produce the best fibers.
The honor and glory of
a family were in part reflected by the female family members' dress. Young girls would weave, sew and embroider to add to their wedding trunk. Family members would invest a lot in their daughter's clothing.
The 'sarafan' was a long
A-shaped dress with thin
shoulder straps that began being
worn in Russia in the 13th
century. It could be made in plain
fabrics for work and daily wear,
but could be made with more
luxurious fabrics and
embroidery for special occasions.
The width of the sarafan was an indication of the social status of the
wearer. The shape
of the dress contributed to the
tall, stately figure prized by Russians.
In general, the traditional costume of elder women was darker and had less ornamentation than the costume of younger women.
Embroidery was an important part of Russian dress, not only for beauty, but for protection from "evil spirits" - Red was a very popular color for clothing and its decoration
The very act of wearing "holiday clothes" signaled that a girl was ready for marriage. As she entered the age of courtship she would begin to wear a special headdress called a kokoshnik.
Unmarried women wore their hair in a single braid. Upon marriage the single braid was divided into two braids, sybolizing splitting away from the family.
Married women wore
shawls over their heads for every day, but for festive occasions wore ribbons and headdresses.
These were called "soroka" and signaled that the married woman had at least one child - the next level of family status. Its purpose was to hide the woman's hair completely. A soroka has a stiff forehead piece to be decorated.
The first holiday dress was made for a girl when she turned 15, and at that time she got her first "real" pair of shoes
A traditional Russian song goes,
"My good mother, Look at me please! Have I dressed myself skillfully? Can I be considered worthy? Does the colorful dress look good on me? And the sky blue flowers on my head?"
Traditional Russian "bast" shoes were known as lapti and are an important symbol of traditional Russian life
Lapti were made of braided birch bark and worn with strips of cloth wrapped around the foot.
From a Russian folksong:
"My colorful dress is as yet unworn. My white face is not smudged. My blond braid is not grown out."