Tuesday, 25 September 2012


I've spent a whole day yesterday working on the cover for our new design "Sudarushka".

Here is the version that I accept more or less.

And a humorous picture from my friend about Russian Blackwork, featuring again traditional Russian headwear kokoshnik ;)
A crafty she-bear stitching Blackwork
A crafty she-bear in kokoshnik
This illstration is worked out in a specific style called lubok. It is a traditional Russian popular print, characterized by simple graphics and narratives derived from literature, religious stories and popular tales. Lubok prints were used as decoration in houses and inns in 17-19 centuries.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Lovely Russian girl "Sudarushka"

This week I almost finished one of our old designs inspired by the ancient Russian headwears. It features a young lovely woman in a luxeriousely embroided headwear called "povoinik" and a shawl over it.
I decided to call this work "Sudarushka" - it is an out-of-date Russian word meaning a kindly address to a young beautiful woman.
Sudarushka, blackwork portrait of
a yong lovely Russian girl

 Let's have a look at the fascinating ancient Russian headwears. It is really a good and endless source of designer's inspiration! And before this small exursion I want to tell a bit about such types of old-time woman’s hewarwear as Povoinik, Kichka, Soroka and, of course, Kokoshnik.

Kichka is a headgear imitating cow’s horns and thus it symbolized the woman’s fertility. The horned kichka was worn by young married women and changed it into the hornless one when woman became old. It was mainly used in the Southern provinces (Tula, Ryazan, Kaluga, Oryol, etc.) of Russia. The kichka covered the hair and had a firm part in front above the face, with a piece of bark or a plank inserted, forming horns, a blade or a hoof. The kichka was put on the head, the hair thoroughly covered with cloth, and then the cloth was fixed on the head by way of rounding the hoofs several times with a lace. At the back of the kichka they used to put on a beaded right-angled stripe of velvet, fastened on cardboard for firmness.

The first written record of kichka refers to 1328. In the early 20th century this complex headgear was almost everywhere replaced by the povoinik, or the kerchief (headsquare). In the Voronezh Region, however, the kichka remained as a wedding garment till the 1950s.
Soroka was the name of the trimmed outer part of kichka-type headwear, its shape usually connected with the shape of a kichka. The soroka was made of fabric and, being stretched over the kichka, sometimes might hide its horns. Any peasant woman could sew it.
Kokoshnik is a folk headgear widely known thanks to Russian folk tales. The history of kokoshnik is full of enigmas and mysteries, and nobody knows when exactly it came to existence.
It is only known that orders of Peter the Great put an interdict on wearing kokoshnik by boyar ladies. Yet, the headwear survived in peasant and merchant milieu (mainly in the Northern provinces) as an attribute of festive or wedding dress, whereas in the late 18th century Catherine the Great allowed it only as an element of a carnival dress.
Unlike the everyday headwear such as soroka or kerchief, it was at first exclusively festive and was richly decorated with pearls, especially in the North. Only married women used to wear kichka and soroka, whereas kokoshnik was worn by unmarried maids as well.
Kokoshnik looks like a roundish shield around the head. The name “kokoshnik” comes from the Old Slavic “kokosh” that meant a hen or a cock. The main feature of the kokoshnik is a sort of a crest rising above the forehead. Its shape varied from province to province. It was a light fan of thick solid paper stitched to a cap with a ribbon running down behind. Kokoshniks were trimmed with brocade, galoons, beads, pearls and, the richest ones, with gems.

Old time Russian woman's headwear

Old time postcard, the begining of the 19th cent.
 If you feel like, you can find more information about ancient Russian female headwear here Traditional Women’s Headwear.