Figure 1.--This Russian portrait was reportedly taken in 1929 during Soviet rule. A young boy is pictured in cossack garb. The elegance of the outfit suugests that the child was from an affluent family in a large city such as Moscow or St Petersburg and dressed up for the portrait. He appears to be wearing a Russian blouse under the coat.
Russia even after the disolution of the Soviet Union is a huge country which still includes many disperate peoples and nationalities. The consideration of ethnic dress is
somewhat complicated because many regions of the former Soviet Union and Tsarist Russia have noe separated from Russia and formed 15 independent countries and many more etnic groiups.
Even so the ethnic traditions of many remain a part of Russian history. One example is the cossacks, the highly independent, some would say predatory horsemen of
the Russian steppe and Causcasus Mountains, but their range extended east to Siberia. Today the former range of the cossacks is more in the Ukraine and newly independent Cucasian republics, but continue to be strongly associated with Russia in the popular mind. Some historiand trace the origins of the cossacks to the Russian serfs from the principality of Moscow who fled the increasingly repressive regime of serfdom in the 14th and 15 centuries and settled in the valleys of the Snipper, Don, and Ural Rivers and in Siberia.
We do not yet have a page on Chechan ethnic clothing. We do have a page on background informatuion about Chechnya.
The cossacks, were the highly independent, some would say predatory horsemen of
the Russian steppe and Causcasus Mountains. Their range extended east to Siberia. Today the former range of the cossacks is more in the Ukraine and newly independent Cucasian republics, but continue to be strongly associated with Russia in the popular mind. Some historiand trace the origins of the cossacks to the Russian serfs from the principality of Moscow who fled the increasingly repressive regime of serfdom in the 14th and 15th centuries and settled in the valleys of the Dnipper, Don, and Ural Rivers and in Siberia. They were the marvelously skilled horsemen of the Western Steppe. The lengends of the cossacks claim that boys were tauhjt to ride before they could walk. They are perhaps best known for effectively harassed Napoleon's Grande Armée as it retreated from Moscow after the 1812 invasion. Napoleon called them "a disgrace to the human race". They are also remembered for their plundring of Jewish villages i the vicious Tsarist pogroms.
The Caucuses were a nborder region of the Roman Empire. The Caucasus during the Medieval era became the mountaneous borderland between Europe and Asia affected by successive waves of migration. The Cauauses were incorprated into the Ottomon Empire. Gradually the Russian Tsars moved into the Caucusses. The Tsar annexed The kingdom of Georgia in 1801. The Caucasian people fought for the next half and their struggle was admired thrughout Europe. Finally the Tsarist forces in 1859 captured Shamyl, the prophet chief of the Muslim Lesghian tribe. This shattered the resistance of the Caucasians people and by 1870 Georgia and the rest of the Caucusses was under the Tsar's control. As many as 0.5 million people refussed to submit to Tsarist rule and Orthodox Christianity. These people including Circassians and Abkhasians, migrated to mostly Ottomon territories in Asia Minor or Europe. The ancient tribal divisions of the country - Imeritia, Svanetia, Mingrelia, etc. disappeared under Tsarist rule. Large areas were depopulated. Georgian nationlist asperations resulted in revolutions which were supressed by Tsarist and Bolshevick forces. Perhaps the most famous Georgin was Josef Stalin. Stalin helped establish Georgia as one of the Soviet Republics, but dealt brutally with any nationlist sentiment. Ethnic dress show both Cossock and Turkish influences.
Russia like other European countries had a population of Gypsies or Roma as they preper to call themselves. This was the case in Tsarist Russia, especially as Russia expanded into Poland and toward the Balkans. Gypsies are strongly associated with Romania and Russia ecentually acquired Moldavia, a province also claimed by Romania.
The countries in which the Gypsies lived passed a range of measure designed to control or assimilate the Gypsies. They were often drafted into the army and forbidden to speal Roma. Catherine the Great duringbthe 18th century approved laws which made Gypsies slaves of the Crown. [Clébert, p. 74] One author describes the Gypsies of the era, "In their dress, they lavish all their finery upon their heads. Their costume in Russia is very different to that of the natives. The Russians hold them in great contempt; never speaking of them without abuse; and feel themselves contaminated by their touch, unless it be to have their fortunes told. Formerly they were more scattered over Russia, and paid no tribute; but now they are collected, and all belong to one nobleman, to whom they pay a certain tribute, and work among the number of his slaves" [Clark, p. 208.] Gypsies are a wandering people and as nation states became increasingly strong, Gysies tended to take on
the customs and folklore of the countries where they lived. This was especially true as movement accross national borders became increasingly complicated. The Gupsies tended, however, to blend national culture and folklore with their own rich culture. I'm not sure what happened to Russian Gyosies during the Soviet era.
Most Jews lived in estern Europe until persecutions became increasingly severe about the time of the Crusades (11th century). Jew began moving east to more tolerant territories such as Poland-Lithuania (which for a time controlled large areas of the Ukraine), and Hungary. We have not yet developed a page on Jewish ethnic dress. We have begun to compile am overall page on Jews in Russia.
Tsarist Russia as it expanded became a multi-national empire. The two largest countries absorbed by Russia was Poland and the Ukraine. Russia absorbed Poland through the 18th century Polish Partitions. Austria-Hyngary and Prussia also acquired sections of Poland at this time. The largest proportion was taken by Russia, including Warsaw. Poland proved the most difficult national group for Russia to assimilate and in the end proved the undoing of the Soviret Union in the 20th century.
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