Men's Layer 2 in Early Rus
Light overgarments.Updated 3 July 2007
One version of the svita.
Another version of the svita (shuba?).
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Upper clothing in the 9th-13th cent. [Верхняя одежда] About the upper clothing of ancient Rus we have rather little information. In 11th century sources is recorded as upper clothing the svita [свита]. Feodosij Pecherskij wore “on hairshirt svita votolyanu” (PVL, I, p. 129). V.I. Dal’ derives this name from the verb “svivat’” [свивать] with the meaning “odevat’” [одевать], “kutat’” [кутать] (Dahl’, IV, p. 154). The svita as a garment evidently worn over the shirt is recorded in the Novgorod birchbark letters of the 13th century to which we will turn (Artsikhovskij, Borkovskij, 1958, letter 141, p. 17-18). Although the svita is recorded only in connection with men’s costume, this is not a basis to consider it exclusively a men’s garment. In any case, in later times the svita was worn both by men and by women. About the cut of the svita there is no precise information. Judging by the depictions, upper clothing of this type was long, approximately to the calf, and densely snugged to the figure (old slavic “obleklo”) and sometimes had a turned-down collar and cuffs. Its helm could have been decorated with embroidery (Artsikhovskij, 1948, page 247). Later the svita appears as a long open-front upper garment. (Rabinovich)
The opening did not extend all the way down the garment until the mid 13th cent. according to Stamerov. Kireyeva puts this change in the 15th cent. The sculture of the metal worker on the Novgorod church doors, which is dated to the 13th or 14th century, would seem to support Stamerov.
The upper body opening was closed with several small buttons using loop tabs. In the 10th-13th centuries it was typical for such outer garments to have 3 or 4 tabs sewn to the torso, made of heavy horizontal strips of a contrasting color fabric, braid or galoons. (Kireyeva and Stamerov)
After the escape from Mongol rule in the 15th century and as the period of Muscovite Rus begins, clothing in Rus began to evolve more rapidly, and become more diverse and intricate. Nobles began to wear several layers of clothing at once as a sign of status, regardless of the season. Garments began to open all the way from the top to the bottom. (Kireyeva) (It should be noted that Stamerov says that such garments began to appear in the mid-13th century. This earlier date is supported by the image of the master metal-worker on the Novgorod church doors.)
It had long narrow sleeves. (Kireyeva)
Svitas to be worn in winter were fur-lined. (Kireyeva)
Directly over the rubakha was worn the svita. Apparently, it was the most widespread outer clothing of townspeople in the XV century. For example, the praying Novgorod boyars are dressed in svitas in an icon of XV century. The svita was sewn from a woolen fabric, with a length barely above knees, fastened with buttons made from knots. The svita had a seam at the waist where the skirt was attached. The skirt was slightly flared, both due to a trapezoid cut, and due to side gores. The sleeve widens toward the armhole by means of narrow gores and gussets (lastovitsy). The svita has a velvet turn-down collar and cuffs. (Bykov/Kuzmin)
In the 13-17th cent., for men and women of the common people, upper dress was the same - for example the sukna or svita - a not very warm, wide garment of broadcloth with a lining. There were also fairly expensive sukni of imported materials on a silk lining. (Rabinovich, 13-17 c.)
Along the chest was located usually 8-12 buttons (or strings). It is difficult to say when exactly the kaftan became so widespread in Rus. The very name is of eastern origin. The Arabian travelor used the term kaftan for the luxurious brocade upper garment in which were buried noble Slavs in Bulgaria in the 10th cent. (Ibn-Fadlan, p. 81). This term, obviously, was a term usual for the author, and not Russian. Russian sources until the 15th cent. did not know the name “kaftan”. It is more important that in the 16-17th cent. it spread to a very wide circle of clothes, so that it was necessary to have additional designations – russkij, turskij, pol’skij, vengerskij, stanovoj, terlik [Russian, Turkish, Polish, Hungarian, district, терлик] (Sav., p. 52-54; Levinson-Nechaeva, 1954, p. 309-328; Gilyarovskaya, 1945, p. 69-72) etc., indicating the detail of cut and trim, connected with fashion... Kaftans were sewn so they opened slightly for the boots and did not interfere with walking with the front shorter than in back. The collar was a small standing one or completely absent (then was visible the richly decorated “orzherl’ye” – the fastened collar of the rubakha or zipun). The standing collar – ozherl’ye – could also be fastened to the kaftan. The sleeves, if they were not folded, were decorated at the wrist with richly decorated cuffs, the chest with buttonholes/loops, and kruzhevo [lace?]. Sources name kaftans of valuable materials – satin, velvet, silk brocade, damask, moiré, taffeta, camlet, broadcloth, mukhoyarovye [Asian cotton blend fabric], and also (for common people) krashenin [dyed homespun linen], twill [sermyazhnyj], sheep, and goat. (Rabinovich, 13-17th c.)
According to Rabinovich in his discussion of the 13-17th centuries, the kaftan was a necessary part of the clothing of poor people and wealthy and, depending on the intended use, could be made of luxurious material on valuable furs or from the simple sermyaga [homespun wool twill] on sheepskin. In wealthy property were many kaftans. Thus, among the property of prince Yu.A. Obolenskij, in the middle of the 16th century were named five kaftans: “Kaftan on pupkakh [navel] sable, colored sash with gold, 9 buttons, kaftan greene on white cherevyakh [belly fur]… kaftan damask… slanting collar, lined with taffeta, Turkish kaftan 10 buttons of silver… kaftan with slanted collar…” (AFZIKh, II, p. 207-211). In the year 1680, from the house of landowner A. Aristov (from Whiryaevo Moromskij u.) were, among other property stolen, eight kaftans: “Kaftan kindyashonj [red or printed cotton fabric], buttons silver vol’yashnye [?] (obviously, belonging to nobleman himself. – M. R.), and two valuable childrens kaftans, buttons silver… four kaftans of sheepskin” (possibly, the house-serfs) (AYuB, III, No 329, stb. 270-272). At the end of the 18th century, in the description of one rich dowry (city of Rostov) were enumerated ten kaftans – brocade on fox, Turkish with golden stripes [nashivka], green satin light/cool kaftan, brocade silk, remaining a bit simpler-two new sheepskin, two broadcloth, two bright red cotton warm “childrens”. It is interesting that in the list was given children’s kaftans. They, as in previous cases, were not especially rich. In peasant families were “ two kaftans broadcloth, shubka borlovaya [spotted cotton fabric?] women’s”. (Rabinovich, 13-17th c.)
During the 13-17th centuries, among other objects of clothing, the closest in function to the kaftan should be called the kabat – a long warm garment with long sleeves. The kabat was worn only at home and sewn, therefore, of modest materials. (Rabinovich, 13-17th c.)
In cool weather was put on outer clothing similar to the opashen', however, judging by images on engravings and icons, they wore it clasped with numerous buttons. Boyarynya Maria is dressed in this way in the icon “Praying Novgorodtsy ". One of names of this garment - odnoryadka. (Bykov/Kuzmin)
Odnoryadki were sewed from smooth woolen cloth [sukno] or other woolen fabrics "in one layer" (i.e. unlined), and thus the name. [odno means one, ryad means layer] (Bykov/Kuzmin)
The women's odnoryadka reconstructed on the Partizan website is open down the front, cut long and wide with long thrown back sleeves and holes for hands at the armhole. The collar and sleeve cuffs are sheathed with the fur of silver foxes (at that time - one of the most valuable furs). (Bykov/Kuzmin)
In summer, prosperous men and women wore over the shoulder, "na opash", light silk opashni of loose cut with long, narrowing-to-the-wrist sleeves, with a silk or cotton lining. The skirt, like that of the odnoryadka, was cut shorter in front than in back. It had sleeves, but was not belted. Such an opashen was found during the construction of the Msocow subway in cracks in the wall of Kitajgorod. (Rabinovich, 13-17th cent.)
One additional entire dress is found in Izyaslavl. It was sewn from several forms of the finest woolen cloth of tabby weave and cut with a top/bodice and separate skirt. The top of the dress is lined. The collar [vorot] is sheathed with a kajma [border] of more closely woven cloth. The kajma is constructed double and is pierced with horizontal stitches. The neck slit, located on the left of the collar, passes into the shoulder seam. At the waist a skirt is sewn to the bodice. It is put together with small gathers, for which are sewn four parallel seams. At the seam uniting the bodice with the skirt, is sewn the golden-fabric ribbon, edged on two sides with silk thread, twisted in the form of rope. A kajma was sewn along the hem. Judging by the seams, the sleeve was sewn under the arm, where a strip of cloth with a width of 5 cm was sewn. This detail is sewn across the sleeve with the finest seam - "forward needle" [vpered igloj], and then a back stroke [backstitched?], the space between the stitches is filled so precisely, that it creates the impression of a machine seam. [The depiction of this seam looks like it was made with two passes of running stitch, placed to "leap-frog" each other, and thus, it resembles machine sewing.]
To judge the length of a dress is difficult. Only scientific restoration can give a complete idea not only about the technology of an article, but also about its form and size. If the proportions of the assembled dress are essentially correct, then its length reaches the knees.
[I'm not sure what these dresses are. If they are women's garments, as implied by Kolchin's illustrations - they could be jackets, navershniks or svitas. If they are men's garments, then they would probably be svitas. Pity the artifacts that archeologists dig up don't come with nice labels...]
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