Female Festive Costume

Voronezh Gubernia. 19th century

Wool, metal thread, linen

Ponyova (back part — skvozka)
19th century
Detail. Biryuch District, Voronezh Gubernia
Wool, weaving, embroidery

The range of color used in Voronezh ponyovas is unequalled in Russian costume. Red, orange, crimson, blue and bright green embroidery stitches create an unusually rich interplay of colors, in which fine stripes combine with wider stripes and the vertical “rainbows” are punctuated with “skvozkas”.

Wool, weaving, chain-stitch embroidery

Linen, silk ribbons, embroidery

Headdress. Soroka with Horns (with kichka)
Galloon, gold embroidery, bugles

Velvet, wool, gold embroidery on cardboard

Kositsy (breast decoration)
Feathers, spangles, beads, woolwork, gold embroidery

Gribatka (breast decoration)
Woolen and gold threads, beads, spangles

Prutiki (breast decoration)
Beads, stringing

Silk, embroidery

Costume from Voronezh Gubernia is unique. It is covered in striking embroidery from head to toe and comprises a multitude of items. Sometimes the embroidery is minute, as though traced in black Indian ink, and at times it is placed on large areas of quilting in the brightest shades of worsted wool. At others, the costume is resplendent with smooth, sparkling areas of gold stitching. Festive costume with black embroidery on shirt sleeves and aprons can only be found in Voronezh Gubernia. It is impossible to confuse the precise, ornamental embroidery of the Voronezh peasants with any other. This elegant, geometric black pattern on a snow-white flat linen background is made using traditional techniques. Ethnographers equate the black color of the embroidery with the color of the Voronezh earth — the black earth. The black color is also found in the outstanding checked ponyovas of the Biryuch and Korotoyak districts, as well as in the velvet headdresses and embroidered apron hems, shirt sleeves and colored beaded and embroidered decorations. The use of black cloth in making girls’ sarafan, as well as outerwear, is evidence of traditions originating in the very oldest cultural strata, when cloth dyed a dull black was yet to be associated with mourning dress.

Gold embroidery is a rare way of decorating sleeves in the Voronezh dress. It was called “embroidered gold straps”. The glimmering gold patterns are repeated in the decor of the headdress and the breast decoration — the gribatka — and in the gold lace on the apron. This is the festive dress of a young woman. It is bright and elegant and the headdress includes a particular item — a horned kichka with a tall soroka on top. Horns are one of the oldest fertility symbols. This type of headdress was usually worn in the first years of married life.

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