Threads of Tradition: Design and Meaning in Russian Peasant Clothing and Textile Arts

In: Experiment
Alison Hilton Georgetown University

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The diverse components and decoration of peasant costumes in the north and south of Russia are the focus of this examination of the materials, stitches, and colors of textile arts. The identification of the wearer’s stage of life, village, kinship, and local traditions is analyzed through the sartorial elements and embroidered designs of garments and headdresses. Other textile work, especially embroidery on towels and bed linens, with repeated patterns and stylized motifs, shows formal similarities with designs on wooden distaffs, suggesting shared historical origins of certain forms. The essay emphasizes both the conservative nature of peasant clothing and the adaptability of textile arts to new materials, techniques, and functions.

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