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A Nekrasov Cossack bride being crowned with a kichka

The kichka is a traditional Russian bridal headdress historically worn throughout the southern regions of the country, namely the areas corresponding to modern Ryazan, Tula, Kaluga, and Orel. Its origins trace back to ancient times when female shamans would wear the horns of various animals as magical talismans. The length of the horns would represent status; the more elderly a woman was the longer her horns were and thus the more authority she had among her clan. The horns also represented fertility, and because of this eventually evolved into the horned kichka headdress worn by brides in more modern times. For many centuries the Russian Orthodox Church condemned kichka headdresses associating them with paganism, and because of this their use gradually declined. Despite this they were regularly worn by brides in certain regions of the country, such as Voronezh, until the 1950s.

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It was on the headdress - the kokoshniki, the kikas, povyoniki, the crowns and the diadems - that the most thought was bestowed. The headdress was of greatest importance because by tradition a married woman had to hide her hair from strangers´ eyes. The long plaits of a Russian woman were her pride; the greatest treasure of a Russian maiden was a single, long plait intertwined with ribbons down her back. So important was the Russian plait that it figures over and over again in song and tale; an old wedding song begins “The young man with the black curls sits at the table and asks: Fair Russian plait, it is true that you are really mine at last?” Married women wore a closed cap and maidens a flowered scarf kerchief or a hoop or diadem leaving the top of her head open. The change of hairdo and headdress at a Russian wedding was accompanied by special ritual and lamentations. The single plait was carefully rebraided by the bride´s female relatives and close friends into two braids.

Kokoshniki varied from region to region in a whole variety of picturesque and poetic shapes. They were peaked like diadems or round and high like crowns; sometimes they were crescent-shaped. Each town had its own style and by her kokoshnik one could tell exactly where a maiden came from. The kokoshniki of the north were heavily embroidered with gold and silver threads and river pearls, with a mother-of-pearl network which fell low over the brow. In the central regions, the kokoshniki were high, in Nizhny Novgorod, round, in the form of a crescent. Sometimes long veil of muslin or gauze were attached to them. The headdresses were made of silk in bright colours, in red and rapsberry-coloured velvet, in cloth of gold that was ornamented with pearls, decorative glass, mirrors and foil. In the south, they were peaked with a pearl net descending over the forehead. In Ryazan and Tambov strange-looking kokoshniki with little horns were called “magpies” and had long tails of goose down or many coloured feathers. In the Ukraine, maidens wore crowns of flowers with bright, flowing ribbons. Beautiful and rich, gracefully framing the face and emphasizing soft eyes, these headdresses were in a very real way the crowning glory of Russian women.

Suzanne Massie: Land of the Firebird

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18th May 1868 - 17th July 1918

By the Grace of God, We Nicholas, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias, of Moscow, Kiev, Vladimir, Novgorod; Tsar of Kazan, Tsar of Astrakhan, Tsar of Poland, Tsar of Siberia, Tsar of Tauric Chersonesus, Lord of Pskov, and Grand Prince of Smolensk, Lithuania, Volhynia, Podolia, and Finland; Prince of Estonia, Livonia, Courland and Semigalia, Samogitia, Bielostok, Karelia, Tver, Yugor, Perm, Vyatka, Bogar and others; Sovereign and Grand Prince of Nizhni Novgorod, Chernigov, Ryazan, Polotsk, Rostov, Jaroslavl, Beloozero, Udoria, Obdoria, Kondia, Vitebsk, Mstislav, and Ruler of all the Severian country; Sovereign and Lord of Iveria, Kartalinia, the Kabardian lands and Armenian province: hereditary Sovereign and Possessor of the Circassian and Mountain Princes and of others; Sovereign of Turkestan, Heir of Norway, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein, Stormarn, Dithmarschen, and Oldenburg, and so forth, and so forth, and so forth.”

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 Russian costumes are not only beautiful, they are also convenient in wearing because they were created for work without restricting freedom of movement. The variety of colors for traditional costume displays love for beauty. The Russian word “beautiful” (krasivyi) comes from the word “krasny”, the Russian for “red”. Ethnic Russian clothes include kaftan, kosovorotka and ushanka for men, sarafan and kokoshnik for women. Sarafan is a traditional Russian long, trapeze-shaped jumper dress (pinafore) worn as Russian folk costume by women and girls. Chronicles first mention it under the year 1376, and since that time it was worn well until the 21st century. Plain sarafans are still designed and worn today as a summer-time light dress. Russian women from the upper and middle classes stopped wearing traditional Russian costume in the 18th century, during Peter the Great’s modernization of Russia, apart from the kokoshniks as part a court dress (although the clothing style of Russian aristocrats differed greatly from those of commoners). It is now worn as folk costume for performing Russian folk songs and folk dancing.

Russian costumes differ a lot from each other. Each province had its own traditional costume. For example, black embroidery was traditional for the Belgorod Region (southern Russia), whereas costumes of peasant women in the Ryazan Region (central Russia) were embroidered mostly with red. The Cossacks of Southern Russia have a separate brand of culture within ethnic Russian, their clothes including papakha, which they share with the peoples of the Northern Caucasus.




Meet Forest the Borzoi! His official name is actually Ryazan Fingal but that’s a bit too fancy. That’s only important if we were planning to show or breed him but he’s just going to be a gorgeous pet.

I must say though photos do not do justice to Borzoi size. My mum is barely 5 feet tall (probably 4'11 ¾) and granddad Anton’s nose was only a couple of inches below her chin while looking up. So gentle though. 😍