Women's Clothing in Early Rus
Updated 7 April 2007
This set of webpages is my attempt to organize my notes on early Russian clothing. As such, it is a work-in-progress and the information is often incomplete and sometimes contradictory. It is published "on-line" as an invitation for others to share information that I don't have (Thank you!) and to help others who are treading the same ground I already have.
It may seem repetitive at times, when I have a paragraph about an item based on Pushkareva, followed by a paragraph with slightly different information from Stamerov. But I have found it useful to carefully indicate where the different information came from, so I can double check it later or make judgements based on the reliability of the source.
Since the terminology of ancient clothing is often controversial, authors frequently seem to use different terms for the same garment. This is why I set up the "layers" system of organization, so that similar garments being used in similar ways would be discussed on the same page for comparison. The terms svita and shuba are an example of women's garments that have a lot of similarities and may (or may not) be overlapping terms. (I've noticed that Russian researchers tend to be splitters rather than lumpers.)
General Notes: Ideal of Beauty:
Class Distinctions: Peasant Costume: City-Dwellers:
Fabrics and Furs: Color:
Layer 1 - the shift/rubakha/sorochka. Layer two - Short over garments: the panova/skirt, the zapona/zanaviska, (the navershnik), "jackets". Layer three - Wide-sleeved long overgarments. Layer four - Narrow-sleeved long overgarments. Layer five - cape-like (plashevidnoj) garments
Ceremonial Costume: Clergy:
Ornament and Jewelry in General:
Eugenia Tolmochoff proposed that the heavy use of makeup was for modesty, corresponding to the Oriental use of the veil to conceal the face. She also noted that, according to Ivan Zabelin, the fashion for makeup was brought to Russia from Constantinople by Princess Olga in the 10th century. (Tolmachoff)
According to Rabinovich, very durable turned out to be the manner of women’s abuse of cosmetics – whiting, antimony, etc. This was noticed already in the 16th cent. by Fletcher, explaining in his own way the bad natural color of the face of Russian women. He wrote, that whiting covered the face of women completely, and antimony wore the eyes, and brows. “From terrible women they turn into beautiful dolls”. “Whiting, rouge and antimony,” V.G. Belinskij wrote 2 ½ centuries later, in 1845, about Moscow petty bourgeoisie. Similar information appeared in the Geographic Society for several northern Russian cities in the middle of the 19th cent. (Rabinovich, 13-17th)
For more information see Brief Notes on Muscovite Rus Clothing.
Changes in 14-15th Centuries:
COPYRIGHT (c) 1997-2007 by Lisa Kies. You may make copies for personal use and to distribute for educational purposes but only if the article remains complete and entire with original authorship clearly noted.