Tuesday, April 5, 2011

South Russian Costume of Kaluga Province

Hello all.

Today i want to talk a bit about how the embroidery i mentioned in the previous posting fits into the folk costume of Kaluga Province of Russia. There are four basic types of old Russian costume: Sarafan, Paniova [Poneva], Andarak and Kubeliek.  The Kubeliek is very rare, and the Andarak, which resembles some north Ukrainian and Lithuanian costume is uncommon. By far the most widespread costumes are the Sarafan and the Paniova. If you are confused by the alternate spellings, in Russian the word is spelled Poneva but is pronounced Paniova. This is a continual problem for people who need to transcribe words between alphabets, do you transcribe letter by letter, or do you write it as it is actually pronounced? People choose both options. [I hope I need not remind English speakers that their language is one of the worst offenders for pronounciation not following spelling.]
There is actually a fifth costume that one will see presented, what is often called the 'Quadrille Costume'. Which is more of a period costume from the 19th cent.
The sarafan is typical of North Russia, while the paniova is typical of South Russia. The dividing latitude is roughly even with Moscow. However, the sarafan is the newer of the two and has made some inroads into South Russia in recent centuries. South Russia has the older ethnic Russian population. Kaluga Province is shown on this map in light pink. The light green is the area that is politically recognised as ethnic Russian.The black spot in the middle is the city of Moscow.

Now the various provinces were drawn for the sake of administrative reasons, and do not necessarily follow traditional cultural regions. Here is a photograph of a folklore group from Kaluga. They have made for themselves simplified, crisp, elegant stylizations of the folk costumes of the region limited to a pallette of red and white. This is useful for being able to see the various kinds of garments worn in the region, and ornamentation typical for those garments, but these are stage costumes and not faithful representations of what people wore. Much better than most stage outfits though.
Here is another performing group which has followed the traditional costume much more closely. The girl on the left is wearing a costume which seems more typical of Smolensk Province, which borders Kaluga on the north and west, that includes a sarafan. The sarafan is a type of skirt worn just under the arms with straps over the shoulders.
The other girls are wearing local variations on the Paniova costume. The Paniova itself is a type of overskirt woven of heavy wool in a large checked pattern, usually in black or dark blue, but occasionally in red. Three hand loom widths are sewn together, the top is turned over to form a casing, through which a drawstring is placed. Here is a Paniova from Oriol [Orel] province, to show the constuction.
This is worn around the waist, with the opening in front. This is often considered to be the Russian equivalent of the Ukrainian Plakhta. The Paniova is then decorated with embroidery, applique, ribbons, etc. in the style typical of each region. In some areas, a fourth piece of a different fabric is sewn on in front, closing the Paniova into a type of skirt. Three of the girls above seem to be wearing open Paniovas, the one in the middle seems to have a closed one, and the one second from the left might have a closed one.  Again this Paniova above is NOT from Kaluga. However, this one, drawn by Max Tilke after an item in a Museum in Germany may well be, as all the rest of the South Russian items drawn by him are. He states that it was worn with the opening on the side, like the Plakhta. He is incorrect on both counts.

You can see that it is the same basic construction, three pieces of hand-woven checked material, with a drawstring and ribbons, calico, and ornamental woven strips appliqued on the edges. This agrees substantially with what the girls above are wearing. You will notice that the girl on the far right in the photo of the stage costumes is wearing a paniova made of plain red cloth. Here  is a drawing made by Tilke of a couple wearing the Kaluga costume. The drawing of the man's costume, as is often the case, is very unhelpful

He describes the woman as wearing a chemise, a ruff around the neck, a 'turban', and a 'sarafan-like apron'. You will notice the girls above wearing similar aprons. The one in the center shows that although it has shoulder straps, it has no back. It is very typical of Russian costumes to have aprons that hang from the shoulder. Tilke does give a drawing of the chemise and its cut. In Russian this garment is called Rubacha.

This is the same cut we have seen in Ukrainian, Bielorussian, and Polish chemises, with the inset on top, gathered into the neck. In this case, the insets and sleeves are made of red calico. You will notice a seam halfway up the rubacha, very often the upper part of the garment was made of finer linen, and the bottom part from coarser. The hem of the rubacha was visible under the paniova, and here a seperate strip of what i believe is ornamental weaving is sewn onto the bottom, although Tilke states that it is embroidered. In many parts of South Russia, the shoulder inset is triangular, but I have found no evidence that such a cut was used in Kaluga Province.If you look at the photographs in this article, all of them indicate a chemise of this cut. Here is a photograph of an exhibit in a Russian Museum, showing the bottom hem of the rubacha and the Russian-style homemade lace on the bottom of the apron.
This apron  seems to go all the way around, like the one drawn by Tilke.

 Here is another exhibit, showing the paniova, the apron hanging in the front only, seemingly with sleeves, and unfortunately a plain warm gray vest over the top of it all, hiding other details.
There is much more that could be said about this costume, but i want to focus on this type of apron. Two of the girls above are wearing calico aprons, with ruffles on the shoulders, but this is obviously a relatively new innovation. The others, along with the stage costumes, and this image immediately above are wearing basically the same type, Linen on the top, with some woven-in or embroidered design, The lower part pieced of red calico, with ribbons sewn on, and one or two panels of Kaluga Embroidery. Gumilevskaia, in her 1959 book gives us this photograph of a woman in the Kaluga costume of Manastyrsky County.

She seems to be wearing a closed paniova or maybe a sarafan. The hem of the rubacha is highly ornamented, the inset looks like plain red calico, but the sleeves are highly ormanented, although whether they are woven-in designs, embroidery, ribbon applique or a combination i am unable to tell. [I want high resolution digital color photographs of this costume from all sides with closeups of all the detail!!!] The two pieces of Kaluga embroidery on the apron are clearly visible, however. Here is a color photograph from the same book showing a closeup of the lower part of a similar apron.

This embroidery is done by drawing threads in both directions, the main motif is rewoven in white, the backround consists of the bars being overcast with colored thread, and edges and other designs added on top. I will try to find detailed descriptions of how to do this for another posting. If any of you have some, please send them to me. Here are a couple of modern photograph of this kind of work.

I will conclude with another photograph of the girls in the second performing group. Study the details with reference to the information given above. The head dresses are an integral part of the costume, of course, with embroidered fronts that often stick up, side pieces that tie in back, beaded netting over the nape of the neck, headbands with embroidery and beaded 'pesyky' that hang over the temples and are worn under the cap, puffs that hang by the cheeks, and other complicated components. Beads and other jewelry were worn around the neck. The feet, as in Tilke's drawing were wrapped in footcloths and shod in lapty, [ shoes woven from birch or linden bark].
Here you see some of the difficulties involved with this kind of research. Stage costumes, Old reliable photos of beautiful costumes being of poor quality and in black and white, Photos shot from one angle only. Bits and pieces of information scattered in several books, etc. 
Thank you all for reading. If i get more information I will post it.
I am always open for requests for research or commissions to design, make and/or embroider costumes for performing groups or individuals.
Thank you again,
Feel free to contact me with requests for research. I hope to eventually cover all of Europe and the Former Russian Empire/Soviet Union. I also gratefully accept tips on source materials which i may not have. I also accept commissions to research/design, sew, and/or embroider costumes or other items for groups or individuals.
Roman K.


Source Material:

M. N. Gumilevskaya, 'Kaluzhskaia Narodnaia Vyshyvka', [Kaluga Folk Embroidery], Moscow, 1959
S. Y. Gumilevskaya, 'Vyshyvka Khudozhnik M. N. Gumilevskaya' [Embroidery of the Artist M. N. Gumilevskaya], Moscow, 2005
L. Molotova, 'Russian Folk Clothing', Leningrad, 1984
M. Mertsalova, 'Poezia Narodnavo Kostiuma' [The Poetry of Folk Costume], Moscow, 1988
Max Tilke, 'The Costumes of Eastern Europe', London, 1926

1 comment:

  1. Note on spelling of понёва: unaccented o is pronounced as a in most cases/dialects in Russian, and that е is actually a ё, pronounced as yo or io, but often in Russian print, ё as a rare letter looses it's diacritical marks and gets printed as plain e, just to confuse the tourists. So your spelling of paniova is closest you can get to correct pronunciation. Great website, lots of useful info, I will try my hand at the apron embroidery and see what happens!