Traditional clothing of the northern people


FUR MOSAIC is one of the most widespread ways of decorating clothing, footwear, headgear, and utensil items of native Northern peoples. Compositions made from cross-linked color contrasting pieces of fur. Cut out by hand or with the help of a pattern, they are shaped as stripes, rhombuses, triangles, circles, and other geometrical figures. Very small parts are cut without pattern or with the help of a ruler. Light and dark skins with similar short nap are usually selected. In sewing the pieces together, the regular direction of nap is followed. Hair that juts out from the cut of the leather is cut off with a knife. The parts are sewn together so that no threads are seen.
For Evenks, Evens, Yukagirs, Dolgans, and Yakuts, mosaics is usually a combination of stripes and squares on clothes and footwear. Evenks used the fur mosaics technique while making rovduga and kamus carpets and kumalans. Circle carpets, symbolizing the Sun, were usually made from color contrasting pieces of kamus with the pattern emulating chiaroscuro: in the carpet’s middle section there was a small circle radiating light and dark beams. The carpet was bordered with coarse and springy fur with a long nap.

Mosaic from leather of different colors was made in a similar manner. The mosaic technique was also used to decorate clothes, footwear, and utensils with colored cloth. As with fur, stripes, squares, rhombuses, and geometrical patterns were cut from cloth and stitched into the fabric or a slit in the hide (clothes, footwear, headgear, mitten, and bags).
The art of fur mosaics is still popular in the North and is used to trim bags, footwear, caps.

APPLIQUE is one of the most popular types of decorative trimming for clothing, footwear, and household objects among the Northern peoples. Applique involves application of one material to another that serves as a base. The applied material usually differs from the base in color and often also in texture. Folk craftswomen knew various types of applique: leather on leather, fur on leather, leather on fur, and cotton or wool on fabric, fur, or leather.
Fabric applique is common on clothing of Yakuts, Yukagirs, Evenkis Evens. Yakuts, Yukagirs, and Evenks. Caftans, dresses, and robes of Khants, Yukagir breastplates, and Yakut horse cloths are works of art. The design was set off from the garment in a strip of fabric in a contrasting color (usually white). Without the aid of a stencil artisan could apply any pattern, sewing from the reverse side with machine-like stitches.

Applique of rovduga is found on Yukagir purses and Evenk tobacco pouches, and was used by the Khants and Mansis to decorate footwear.
An original technique of decoration among the Chukchi is balls by circular rosettes. Cut-out circles of mandarka are attached to a strip cut from white kamus. The strip goes around the circle so that the nap shows on the outside. A white mandarka circle is fastened to the leather base of the ball with transverse stitches, so that inside there is a strip of kamus and a gleaming brush of white hair shows through on the outside. The result is a distinctive rosette.

Biser is small glass beads widely used by the Northern peoples to decorate clothes and utensils. Before glass beads appeared here, the native population used “home-made beads”—circles, small balls and columns, cut from mammoth bone and painted in different colors by natural dyes to decorate clothes and everyday belongings. Old glass beads were different in forms and color shades and were valued very highly in the North. Evenkis exchanged a deer for several red glass beads. Women masters still appraise them and take from old things to new ones.
Women combined beadwork with applique made of strips of colored fabric, edgings of long-nap fur, embroidery using the neck hair of deer, leather painting, fur mosaic, etc.

The skill of beadwork is passed from the older generations of Northern peoples to the younger ones. Northern women use bead ornament in combination with cloth, leather, and fur to decorate clothes, shoes and headgear. Even the smallest routine clothing and household items are amazing in the richness and complexity of their decorative beadwork embroidery. In recent times beadwork has become especially widespread. Beadwork makes it possible to create rich compositions, complex rosettes, pendants, contributing to the development of national decorative art.
Every Northern ethnic group uses the beads effect, color range, and combination of beads with different materials in its own way.

The Evenkis preferred red, yellow, green, completing and accentuating them with black and white beads. When decorating leather and fur items, the Evenkis use beads in different ways. Sometimes they cover the entire surface leaving no empty spaces, where the rhythmic interchange of beads of the same col. and size and equal intervals btw them (bibs, belts) is very important. When colorful fabric strips were used in the decoration, beads were used sparingly, at a distance from each other, in one or several rows. This was the way rovduga clothes, and birchbark pack bags edged with fur and rovduga were decorated.