The Evolution of Russian Kokoshniki

The kokoshnik was a tall rounded or triangular traditional hat which was worn ceremonially in 19th century Russia, and was well documented in ethnographic studies, with variations particular to each region. I recently came across the article by Stepanova, Iuliia. “RUSSIAN TRADITIONAL HEADDRESS BY ARCHAEOLOGICAL DATA: THE ORIGINS AND EVOLUTION.” 2nd International Multidisciplinary Scientific Conference on Social Sciences and Arts SGEM2015 (2015), which gives a great overview of what we know about the history of this headdress and evidence of its use in the medieval period. As she points out, sources for clothing are scant prior to the Mongol invasion in the 13th century, but during later centuries we have more descriptions, manuscript illustrations, iconographic depictions, and even a few archeological remnants. The headdress in the medieval period appears to have evolved from the Byzantine traditional crowns and diadems, and in SCA period were likely lower and more dentate than the examples seen in ethnographic images. Over time, they became more ornate, decorated first with plaques, then also with pearls, gems, and metallic thread. Kokoshniki grew taller throughout the centuries, evolving into the towering curves and triangles we’re more familiar with likely starting in the 17th-18th centuries. The article provides some useful images of period depictions of crowns and hats, showing what the medieval kokoshnik looked like. The article is short, sweet, and in English!

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