Russia of Nicholas II on the eve of World
War I was a land of striking ethnic diversity. Comprising all of the
republics of what later was to become the Soviet Union, as well as
present-day Finland and much of Poland, Russia was home to more than
150 million people - of which only about half were ethnic Russians.
The variety of colors for traditional costume displays love
for beauty and ethnic diversity. These costumes are not only beautiful,
there are also convenient in wearing because they were created for
work as well.
clothes for noble people are introduced
in the historical sources widely enough, there are not so many details
for peasants' costumes.
Actually, until the 17th century it were only outside trimmings
that differed from nobles' costumes to the peasants' ones, general
cut and style were all the same.
Festive clothes and everyday clothes, married woman's and
young girl's clothes differed only for details, decoration, color
fabric cloth was considered to be the nattiest one, and, by the
way, the Russian word "beautiful" comes from the word
"krasny", the Russian for "red".
Homemade canvas and wool clothes decorated with embroidery
or woven pattern have been used most often for traditional peasant
came in different ornaments (rhombuses, crosses, herring-bones,
stylized patterns of people and animals) performed in naturally
painted threads. Red, blue, green, white, yellow - the color gamut
was rich and various.
Despite the social and territorial differences Russian traditional
clothes had one thing in common, they had to be put as a cape, from
the head. Soft silhouette without any cuts emphasized Russian lady's
light steps. Dress and sleeves were getting wider to the lap; the
fabric was decorated with symmetric pattern, or with other golden
or silvery-like fabrics, furs, and embroidery.
Patterned woman's headdress "kokoshnik", fine linen
"rubashka" shirts, beautiful woman's dress "sarafan"
with embroidery in brocade and silk, - all these are comfortable
and nice clothes worn ages ago by Russian women.
most spectacular display of the traditional Russian costume is at
the Russian Ethnographical Museum (formerly the Ethnographic Museum
of the People of the USSR) in St Petersburg.
Russia has the best museum collections of "folk"
costume worldwide and the Ethnographic Museum in St Petersburg is
considered to be the best of its kind.
Under Stalin, the study and display of USSR folk arts served
The museum displays a total of 200,000 examples of folk art,
mostly dated from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Argunov, Portrait of a Peasant Woman
in Russian Traditional Costume 1784.
Collection of Northern folk clothes of
the Archangel Wooden Architecture Museum consist of six thousand
For over 20 years (and this is how old the
museum is) its scientific workers have done a lot of expeditions
to study and to collect exhibits in various districts of Archangel
Clothes of the end of the 19th and the beginning
of the 20th centuries are represented in the collection of the
Museum most completely. The women’s clothes are prevailing
for art design they are more expressive than the mens ones.
Northern costume consisted of a sarafan, a blouse, a
belt, a headdress, shoes or boots. Versions were as numerous
as the ways to decorate one's costume.
the Northern districts of the region the means of decoration
were modest and laconic in keeping with the architecture of
In the Southern districts the ornaments were brighter
and more colourful. Every tiny detail made its contribution
to the whole ensemble. A waist-belt was an indispensable part
|Headwears were divided into
women's and girls ones. They are embroidered with gold and pearls
and are of great value. They were everyday clothes and holiday
ancient motifs got mixed with the later ones in the creations
of the people. Styles and trends were interwoven.
A folk costume is in harmony with the bright interior
of the peasant house and country landscapes. It's in tune with
the northern round-dance.
Folk costume manifests folk art and conveys the spirit
of the past and old bright culture of Russia.
The museum also houses rotating exhibits of contemporary
folk arts. All the costumes on display are high quality. Most notable
are the costumes in the hall devoted to ethnic Russian peasant dress.
though the main collection contains enough all by itself to absorb
the most ardent of costume enthusiasts for an entire day there's
The elusive "Gold Hall" houses valuable jewelry
and jewel-encrusted costume accessories in a space like a bank vault.
Another extra exhibit is in the central marble hall, between the
two main galleries. The fabulous, sparkling exhibition, "The
Emperor's Collection," has all that glitters in the way of
costumes and jewelled objects.