Traditional clothing of the northern people


Clothing of the N peoples is very efficient and adapted to the local climatic conditions, economic activities and way of life. It is made mainly of local materials: skins of the reindeer, seals, wild animals, dogs, birds (loons, swans, ducks, etc.), fish skin (mainly used by the peoples from the Lower Amur area), Yakuts used cow and horse skins. Rovduga (reindeer or elk skin chamois) was widely used. Clothes were lined with squirrel, fox, hare, polar fox, and lynx fur, Yakuts used beaver, Shors used sheep fur. Skin of domestic and wild reindeer bagged in the taiga and tundra were very important. Peoples hunting sea animals (Chukchi, Eskimos, Koryaks) exchanged their products for reindeer skins. Seal skin was not usually suitable for making clothes.
In winter people wore double- or single-layered clothes made of reindeer or dog skin, in summer, worn-out winter furs, parkas, malitsas, as well as clothes of rovduga and fabric. Purchased fabric was used long ago for both summer and winter clothes (fur-lined coats or caftans). Cotton and cloth were served as a cover of fur coats (Khants, Mansis, Selkups, etc.).

In style clothes can be divided into two main types: buttoned-up (without placket) and an open garment (with a long vertical front opening). Buttoned-up clothes is mainly for men and was typical for reindeer-herders and sea hunters. There were different styles. Buttoned-up fur kukhlyanka worn by the Chukchi (iryn) is wide, short (above the knees), double, similar to that of the Koryaks, Itelmens, and Eskimos. The collar had a cord for making it tight and a small chest-piece sewn to it for protecting a face during snowstorms. Koryaks sewed their kukhlyankas with longer chest-pieces than those of the Chukchi, with a wide strip sewn onto the hem, and a collar trimmed with dog’s fur. Summer kukhlyankas were usually made of rovduga. Women wore buttoned-up clothing only during long sled trips.
Open-type clothing was widely used in taiga areas. This type of c. incl. Evenk caftans, fur coats (parkas, dokhas), coats of peoples from the Far East. It was comfortable both for walking and riding trips in taiga. Nenetses, Khants and Mansis. Open-type clothing had various styles which differed in the wrapover of the flaps (line-on-line, to the right or to the left), the cut of the back, hem, waist, and sleeves, the shape of the gussets (three-cornered, semicircular, rectangular), their number, place of inset, etc.
Evenks, Evens, and Dolgans wore long fur chest-pieces under their caftans with narrow flaps. Open-type clothing of Yakuts was sewn with turn-down collars, special cut of sleeves, gussets, canting folds, etc. and was copied by the Evenks, Yukagirs, Oroches, etc.

Outer clothing especially winter clothing, was usually worn with a belt, buttoned-up clothing was worn with big full front. Knifes for different destinations, fire strikers, cases with flint, matches, etc. were hung on the belt.
The lower part of the body was usually protected by single or double fur pants and in summer with pants of rovduga or cloth. Short pants made of rovduga, fabric, fish skin were typical for Evenks, Evens.
In winter, women from the far North East (Chukchi, Eskimos, and Koryaks) wore double overalls made of the reindeer skin with wide sleeves and collars of wolf or dog fur (Chukchi kerker) under kamleika (outer clothing made of fabric).

Clothing was usually supplemented with headgear in the form of hoods and caps of fur or differrent fabrics fur-lined or padded. They were often richly decorated. Nenets, Khant, Mansi, Selkup, and Ket women covered their heads with large kerchiefs. Some peoples of the far N (Chukchi, Eskimos, Koryaks, etc.) managed without headgear even during hard frosts.

Embroidery of the Northern peoples is their main means of decoration for clothes, footwear and headdresses. Their needlework is close to embroidery. When making clothes, footwear and bags, by sewing together dark and white pieces and stripes of rovduga or mandarka using tendon threads, these craftswomen obtain a fine stitch both from the right and back sides. Probably, embroidery in decorative stitches descends from the art of sewing.
Embroidery in white reindeer hair (taken from the neck of the animal) is the oldest form. It is typical of the Khants, Mansis, Evenks (who sometimes dyed reindeer hair a reddish-brown color), Evens, Nganasans, Dolgans, Yukagirs, Chukchi, Eskimos, and Koryaks. There are different types of embroidery in reindeer hair. The first type consists of embroidery in equally spaced even stitches. The second type consists of reindeer hair laid on the surface of the article and attached to the background with short stitches in tendon threads (currently, in dark or colored spool threads). Such a stitch was used to trim various elements of ornament, in fur mosaic or appliqué techniques, as well as painted patterns. In such work, the craftswomen could use a plain stitch, relief braid made of two twisted tufts or zigzag. In the third type of embroidery, reindeer hair is passed through the loops of a leather stripe running through cuts in the leather. This stitch is used to embroider Koryak funeral clothes. With the passage of time, reindeer hair was replaced by silk and cotton threads purchased from the Russians and Chinese. E. in threads incl. special e. threads instead of the reindeer hair is now typical of the Chukchi, Eskimos, Koryaks, Evenks, and Yakuts. They use various types of stitches, such as stalk-like, «goat», «back with the needle,» etc. E.g., the Evenks use tambour, «braid,» polyline, vertical stitches, winding one thread with another, attaching the superimposed thread to the background, etc. Such embroidery was combined with mosaic, appliqué work and the passing through of belts.

Furs of various colors (fur mosaics), beads, colored cloth, dog white long hair, reindeer under neck hair, horse white dyed hair (popular among Yakuts), dyed belts and brushes, metal pendants, etc