Outfits >>> Replicas >>> Festive shirt
of Yaroslavl Household Division warrior
Yaroslavl region
the seventeenth century
Made by
Irina Zhoukova.

This shirt copies authentic items presented at two prominent Russian museums: Moscow State Museum of History and Yaroslavl Historic Monument.

In the seventeenth-century Russia all members of Household Division (not only officers, but even soldiers) were considered as nobility (many Russian noble families were started by "just" Household Division privates). Accordingly, Household Division warriors clothes (not uniform) followed noble peoples clothing code.

The authentic shirt is made of kise'a (thin and fine cotton). We applied a fabric-made muslin here. Of course, we kept all cut and fashion features of the original:

  • The cut is tunic-like, with no shoulder seams
  • To make a shirt wider at a belly level, bochki ("sides", trapezoidal side details) were added here
  • Red lastovica (armpits)
  • Centered front cut (in contrast to a well-known kosovorotka a shirt with a sided front cut, an everyday outfit of Russian farmers, not nobility - more >>>)
  • Decorative sleeve cuts (this fashion detail was used in Russia in a time period of the fourteenth seventeenth centuries, see another example here)
  • Podoplyoka ("a liner", the second, inner layer of cloth)
  • "A cut for a horse" a centered cut at the front bottom of the shirt.

Centered front cut Lastovica Decorative sleeve cut "A cut for a horse"

"A cut for a horse" serves the same purpose as a similar centered cut at Russian and European armor of knights and riders. Look: a proper armor should be of a knee-length. Pretend you need to ride a horse, and there is no central cut. What should you do? Ride like a woman, in a sidesaddle? Or, roll your armor up to a waist level?

The shirt is heavily decorated with golden embroidery (zolotoe shite, "golden stitch") and galun golden trim of different width. Since the tenth century, golden embroidery was produced in monasteries workshops. Initially, nuns made "golden stitch" for church items and ceremonial clothes of clergy only. Later, it became a regular practice to accept orders from noble people - princes and boyars. In the fifteenth century, monasteries started selling their "golden stitch" production to European countries. And, since the seventeenth century, expensive headdresses decorated with zolotoe shite became a mandatory part of village womens and, especially, adolescent girls outfit.

The pattern used for this shirt is a pure decorative. In contrast to village needlepoint, it does not have any symbolic meaning at all. Undoubtedly, noble people who lived in cities did not need to honor and even mention "peasants'" spirits of rain, harvest, grain field etc. The shirt also lacks the "fire border" talisman around a neck, sleeve cuts, and a hemline (due to a similar reason: the seventeenth-century city people forgot the meaning and necessity of this spiritual protection).

To be precise, this design is a formalized image of a Indo-European delivering Mother of the World / Tree of Life / Scythian serpent-legged goddess avatars of the Great Mother of Paleolithic cave paintings. But, definitely, seventeenth-century nuns have never thought about such deep semantics of the pattern. They just followed a church needlepoint standard.

Sources (in Russian).
  1. "Russian Costume of the 15th - early 20th centuries" (a photoalbum)
  2. F.M.Parmon, "Traditional Russian Costume as a Source of Ideas"
  3. "Men and Women (male and female aspects of traditional Russian culture)" (a directory)
  4. "Russian Traditional Life" (encyclopedia)
  5. G.S.Maslova, "Designs of Traditional Russian Embroidery"