The Multinational Novorossiya: Ethnographic Images




Novorossiya is a special historic region, which was administratively and territorially formed in the reign of Empress Catherine II. Novorossiya Province was established in 1764. Initially, it included the lands bordering the Crimean Khanate, those of the immigrant colonies Novaya Serbia and Slavyano-Serbia, of the Novoslobodsky Cossack Regiment, Downstream Zaporozhe Cossack Host, Ukrainian fortified line, and Bakhmut Province. In the course of the Russo-Turkish wars of 1768-1774 and 1787-1791, with the annexation of the Crimean Khanate (1783), the Black Sea North Coast was added to Novorossiya. The most substantial accession to Novorossiya was the acquisition of Crimea. In the early 19th century, Novorossiya Province was subdivided into Yekaterinoslav, Taurida, and Kherson Provinces, while retaining the notion of Novorossiya as a historic region. In the 19th century, Novorossiya became a territory of cultural integration of old-timers and newcomers. The collections of the Russian Museum of Ethnography describe Novorossiya’s ethnic abundance, and demonstrate the specifics of different peoples’ culture by the example of costume sets, musical instruments, and objects of domestic culture, supplemented with monochrome photos. The Museum's collections cannot claim statistical completeness of coverage of Novorossiya’s ethnic map. However, the Museum’s available collections bear an emblematic charge, representing both processes of migration for religious, economic, and humanitarian reasons and the indigenous population. The collections of the Russian Museum of Ethnography on peoples of the historic and cultural region of Novorossiya are considered unique in terms of their composition, completeness, and provenance. It is not only an outcome of historical, archeological, and ethnographic studies of the region, but also a result of the Museum’s concord with local lore experts, ethnic communities, and culture members.

The costumes of several peoples of the historic and cultural region of Novorossiya formed the basis of historico-ethnographic reviews and podcasts of leading experts of the Russian Museum of Ethnography.

The costumes were selected as the most picturesque and integrated manifestation of the traditional system of life order and life support. They are an integration of the spiritual aspect – beliefs and rituals, and the material everyday life – embodiment of traditional occupations and crafts. 

The costume is a “language” system telling about ethnic specifics, religious and social differences, family setting, everyday life features, and behavioral norms. The costume may be compared to a microcosm where the owner’s aesthetic, moral, and ethnic views can be read. It is a structural part of an ethnos’ existence based on traditional outlooks, economy, and social foundations. 

Shown in the catalog are artifacts representing the domestic world, trades, and handicrafts. The musical instruments deserve special attention as symbols of a phenomenon uniting not only the peoples of Novorossiya.


Festive costume of a young woman. Mariupol Greeks, 2nd half of the 19th century. Yekaterinoslav Province, Mariupol District, Bolshaya Yenisala village

In the repository of the Russian Museum of Ethnography, the culture of the Greeks of the Black Sea north coast is represented by materials on the Mariupol Greek group. The collection was formed due to the research efforts of archeologist Nikolai I. Repnikov who in the early 20th century studied the history of early Orthodoxy in Crimea and in Ladoga region. 

The ethnic group of Mariupol Greeks emerged in 1778-1780 as a result of resettling, under the Russian military control, of a part of the Orthodox Greek population of Crimea to the North coast of the Sea of Azov. In 1779, the settlers founded there the city of Mariupol and 19 rural settlements. The group’s rooting was helped by the prohibition of settling in Mariupol of colonists other than Greeks, which remained in force for half a century.

The Greek population existed in Crimea since the classical times as dispersed groups of Greeks of the whole Black Sea region. Like all Black Sea Greeks, the Crimean Greeks formed two speech communities by the Modern Age: the Romans who spoke Greek and the Urums who used Turkic languages. The language of the Crimean Urums is close to the Crimean Tatar language. Both ethnonyms are traced to the name of the Greek population of Byzantium, which was Romans. By many attributes, the culture of the Crimean and Azov Greeks is saturated with the heritage of the medieval Byzantine, Ottoman, and Crimean cultures. 

The costume of an Azov Greek woman is a result of development of Black Sea Greek traditions influenced by the Crimean Tatar culture. A synthesis of elements is traced in the costume ensemble configuration, design of its components, type of the fabric, and embroidery motifs. An ethno-local feature of the festive costume of a Mariupol Greek woman is her towel-type headwear “periftar” with its many chains and pendants repelling evil forces with their ringing. A bride put it on for the wedding. A young woman wore it almost continuously until her first birth, and then as part of her festive costume. In the everyday life of a married woman, it was replaced by a kerchief. A periftar was passed down from generation to generation; a mother-in-law would give it to her daughter-in-law, which made it an artifact of several epochs.

Wedding costume of a bride. Late 19th - early 20th century. Bulgarians. Feodosia District, town of Old Crimea, village of Koktebel

The Bulgarians are a South Slavic people that emerged in the early Middle Ages as a result of fusion of Turkic-speaking groups of Proto-Bulgarians (Bulgars) and Slavic tribes with the remnants of local population, primarily the Thracians. 

In the late 14th century, Bulgaria was conquered by the Turks, becoming vassals, and in the 15th-19th centuries forming part of the Ottoman Empire. In the late 18th and early 19th century the Bulgarians living in their core territory struggled for liberation from the Ottoman oppression, but were defeated; some of them found shelter from persecution of Turkish authorities in the sparsely populated steppe expanses of the North Black Sea region and South Bessarabia, where settlements of some groups of Bulgarians appeared in the territory of Taurida, Kherson, and Yekaterinoslav Provinces. It should be noted that the Bulgarian immigrants severed from the bulk of their ethnos dwelt among other ethnic groups, retaining the language and many features of the general Bulgarian culture.

In 1905 Konstantin Inostrantsev, curator of the Ethnographic Department of the Russian Museum, made an expedition to Taurida Province, where he studied the traditional culture of Bulgarian immigrants who lived in the village of Koktebel.

The researcher managed to acquire a bride’s wedding attire representing the best festive clothing of a Bulgarian woman, which included such traditional elements of the clothing ensemble as a homespun chemise, or riza, a roklya dress and khabichka outer jacket of black wool cloth, a prestilka (farta) striped apron, a split headgear, and wool sneakers called terlik.

Unlike everyday clothing, these garments were made of high quality fabrics, although the raw materials for their making were traditional – hemp, flax, wool, silk, and leather. Woolen fabrics played a special role in the costume, which was related both to the ethnic tradition brought from Bulgaria and to the local main occupation of the Bulgarians in the new settlement area, i.e. sheep farming.

A distinguishing, semiotic sign of the bride, which distinguished her costume from the clothing of her girlfriends attending the wedding, was an outer headscarf of white lace, or mrezhi, trimmed with red silk thread. Attached to its three corners were tassels of multicolor beads, and the traditional ear decorations were red and white textile flowers decorated with three leaves with a little azure feather.

Women’s costume. Gagauz. Early 20th century. Bessarabia Province, Bendery District, villages of Kiryutnya and Chadyr-Lunga

The Gagauz are one of the most mysterious peoples, because the question of their origin is still pending. One theory is that the Gagauz are descended from the Turkic-speaking Bulgars who migrated to the Balkans from the Volga in the 7th century and adopted Christianity three centuries later. 

The first evidences on the Gagauz settlement in the Balkan Peninsula mention the historic region Dobruja where the Gagauz lived side by side with the Bulgarians. The Gagauz people’s history is tragic and inseparable from other ethnoses subjected to Ottoman oppression that lasted for five centuries. In the late 18th – early 19th centuries the Gagauz jointly with the Bulgarians, fleeing from Turkish persecutions, were resettling from Bulgaria to Russia, where Taurida and Bessarabia Provinces became their basic place of residence. 

In the summer of 1905, Nikolai Mogilyansky, a remarkable Russian ethnographer and anthropologist of the early 20th century, head of the Ethnographic Department of the Russian Museum, gathered the first Bulgarian-Gagauz collection when working in Bessarabia. The researcher believed clothing to be an important marker of everyday culture, paying great attention to collecting men’s and women’s costumes. The garments purchased in the villages of Kiryutnya and Chadyr-Lunga enabled presenting the costume set of Gagauz women immigrating from the Balkans; it had much in common with Bulgarian clothing, in particular in the use of woolen, cotton, and silk fabrics, and the dark color gamut and similar elements of the clothing ensemble. Its components were gelmek, a yoke chemise of homespun fabric with cross stitch; chukman, a sleeveless dress of checkered fabric whose hem was trimmed with black velveteen border; fyta, a woolen apron; and chember, a black kerchief decorated with hand-braided silk fringe.

Attire of a hazzan, Karaite priest. The Karaites, late 19th–early 20th century. Taurida Province, the city of Eupatoria

The articles of the Karaite culture entered the collection of the Russian Museum of ethnography as a result of studies of Crimean ethnography. It should be noted that the Karaites themselves were interested in presentation of their culture in the museum world. This is how the collection donated to the museum by the gaham of Crimea should be taken. 

In religious aspect, Crimea’s Karaites are adherents of “Karaimism-Karaitism” recognized in Judaism as a Jewish religious doctrine, and by the Karaites, as the ethnic religion. Many Karaites complement this doctrine with tenets of Tengrianism as heritage of ancient Turki’s religion. The Karaite teaching appeared in the Middle East in the 9th century. In Crimea, it was adopted in the 10th century. Its name is derived from the word kara, or scripture, indicating that it only accepts the Torah and rejects the Talmud as its interpretation, thus disagreeing with orthodox Judaism. 

The adherents of Karaitism live in Turkey, Egypt, and in Middle East, being distinguished everywhere by especially strict observance of kashruth, i.e. Jewish norms of everyday behavior. Given the general trend of replacing traditional men’s clothing with smart European clothes, the religious norms ensured saving artifacts of ritual culture, including sacred vestments.

In the 19th and early 20th century, Crimean Karaites lived in communities, mainly in cities. In 1837, by the decree of the Emperor Nicholas I, the Board of Karaite Religious Affairs was established, located in Eupatoria, which regulated the activities of all Karaite communities of Novorossiya. Later, it was renamed the Taurida and Odessa Karaite Clerical Board. 

The supreme spiritual and judicial power with the Karaites resided in the gaham. The word gaham may originate from the Turkic khagan or from hakham, which means “wizard” in Hebrew. He was elected at the congress of representatives of all Karaite communities and approved by Russia’s Minister of the Interior. Clerical governance involved Karaite priests (hazzans). The hazzans were guardians of traditions and spiritual advisors. Crimea’s Karaites maintained contacts with the Karaites of Lithuania (descendants of some Crimean Karaites settled there in the 14th century) and Karaite communities of Novorossiya.

According to 2014 data, in the 21st century Karaite ethnic cultural societies were registered in Crimea, as well as in Melitopol, Odessa, Nikolaev, Kharkov, and Dnepropetrovsk.

Women’s costume. Karaites. Middle of the 19th century. Taurida Province

There are two historic Karaite communities, Trakai and Crimean, both related to the Crimean Peninsula by origin. The dialog on the origin of Crimea’s Karaites is a permanent one. Clashing in it are two historical/genetic opinions, one relating the Karaites’ ethnogenesis to the world of non-orthodox Judaism, and the other, to heritage of an early Turkic empire, the Khazar Kingdom. Definitely, the formation of the Karaite culture of everyday life was related to the Crimean land and the time when both moments of their initial ethnic history were in place. 

In the epoch of the Crimean Khanate, the Karaites took shape as a local confessional ethno-professional group of the Crimean polyethnic community, oriented at horticulture, handicraft, commerce, military and civil service. 

For several centuries from the 14th century, the Crimean Karaites lived in the fortress complex of Chufut-kale. In the Russian time, such restraint was disturbed. It is important that from the epoch of the Russian Emperor Nicholas I the Karaites were relieved of some restrictions imposed in Russia on votaries of Judaism, which promoted development of the group’s competencies and inclusion of Karaites in the business and intellectual elite of the nation.  

By the end of the 19th century, the men’s clothing of the Karaites was replaced by European clothes, while the women’s clothing retained its ethnical color. 

The traditional costume of Karaite women embraced the rich traditions of the Ottoman Empire, Crimean Khanate, and Middle East, reproducing the basic elements of oriental clothing in its pattern. They are a multilayer structure, with underwear and outerwear; harem pants, waist cinched with a belt, split bottomwear, lots of decorations: embroidery, appliqué, braiding, and required wearing of headgear. The costume’s color gamut was quite rich, widely displaying scarlet, cherry, green, blue, violet, and blue. Such a costume was kept and passed down from generation to generation.

The costume components covering the body parts most vulnerable to the evil eye were abundantly decorated by lace and embroidery. The embroidery techniques and materials, and complex designs reproduced the traditions of Damascus, Baghdad, and Jerusalem.

A widely known hairdo of the Karaite girls included up to 100 little braids; women did up their hair in two plaits down the back. The hair was covered with velvet and silk headwear with decoration of pearls and coins, including Turkish gold pieces. Wealthy women wore headwear with pearl-embroidered stars and a lunula, with hanging clusters of pearls and emeralds, other precious stones, and golden pendants. Home clothing differed from outdoor clothing, which implied a mantle-type cape. 

The festive costume included forehead bands with sayings in the Hebrew or Arabic language. A coin necklace was a required decoration even of a woman of modest means. Every Karaite woman had a smart traditional costume; relatives gave coin necklaces to girls from poor families as a wedding gift.

Women’s costume. The Crimean Tatars, early 20th century. Taurida Province

The collection of the Russian Museum of Ethnography on the Crimean Tatar culture took shape mainly in the first third of the 20th century. 

In the Museum’s initial period, the research was part of oriental studies. In the 1920s, field methods of paleoethnology were used. The collections mostly consist of towels, which were very widespread, and garments.

The Crimean Tatars absorbed the cultures of the multi-ethnic peninsula, the land of historic interaction of the Steppe and coastal peoples. The cultural and civilizational processes on the Black Sea north coast were involved in the evolution of the Roman Empire, Byzantium, the Golden Horde, thalassocratic republics of northern Italy, the Ottoman Empire, Muscovy, and the Russian Empire. The Crimean Tatar language belongs to the Turkic language family; the Turkic languages of the North Caucasus are the closest to it. By confession, the Crimean Tatars are Moslems, Hanafiyah Sunnites. 

The development of the Crimean Tatar ethnos reflects the fusion of kindred Turkic and Turkized tribes, with inclusions of population of other origins. The main vector of that process was the interaction of a Turkic, nomadic civilization of the Eurasian steppe with cultures of Crimean highlands and coastlands connected by maritime contacts with the Black and Mediterranean Sea coasts. The essential time of building of the Crimean Tatar ethnos was the period of existence of the Crimean Khanate, a dependency of the Ottoman Empire (14th-18th centuries). 

Crimea’s incorporation into Russia prepared by the growth of Russia’ military and political power (1783) changed the historical destinies of its peoples, opened Crimea for its colonization by new settlers, for spreading the area of settlement of the Russians through it, for Europeanization of its residents, and for changes in the everyday culture of the Crimean Tatars.

A sign of Crimea’s political and cultural dependence on the Ottoman Empire was adoption by well-to-do citizens of Bakhchysarai of Levantine clothes worn in Turkey. The cultures of the Russians, Ukrainians, Germans, and Bulgarians introduced to Crimea in the 19th-20th centuries also influenced the nature of the traditional Crimean Tatar costume. 

The traditional costume of Crimean Tatar women at the end of the 19th century consisted of chemise and harem pants worn next to the skin, wrap dress, plastron, sash, footwear, fez bonnet, and was generally complemented with a marama headscarf.

The holiday clothing of a Crimean Tatar woman was decorated by a braid sewn on along the edge, or a gold-brocaded or silk cord. The same cord and/or braid also covered the side seams of the torso up from the hips and the sleeve seam; it was also an amulet protecting the dress owner against penetration of evil forces through the garment edge or seams. The most ornate element of the dress was the sewn-on or removable sleeve decorations anteri-kapak. Most often, they were decorated with one-sided satin stitch embroidery or with a pattern done in a thin brocaded cord and attached to the fabric by stitches of silk thread of the cord’s color.

Costume of a young man. The Crimean Tatars. Early 20th century. Taurida Province, Yalta District

The multi-ethnic Crimea, with its rich traditions of several civilizations, merged into the Russian Empire in 1783, to become the southernmost province of its European part. Crimea was part of Taurida Oblast (from 1784), Novorossiya Province (1797-1802) and Taurida Province (1802-1918).  

The vectors of Crimea’s development in the 19th century were its development by new settlers, its making as Russia’s military barrier, development of southern sectors of agriculture, such as horticulture, vine growing and wine making, and tobacco farming, and turning Crimea’s Black Sea coast into a health resort. 

The Crimean Peninsula, with its diversity of natural and climatic zones and soft climate of its South Coast resembling the Mediterranean, became the fastest developing health resort of the Russian Empire in the second half of the 19th century. Like in many other resort places, for which comparison with Côte d’Azur on the France’s south coast, Crimea’s locals were involved in the new economy. The Crimean Tatars became more active in growing fruit, grapes, and tobacco, catering wine and ayran to visitors, running coffee houses and little restaurants. Many young men, later remembered by visitors as superbly gallant men, served as guides accompanying visitors in travels in the peninsula and in sightseeing visits to the mountains.

The clothing of a Crimean guide was the festive costume of a young Crimean Tatar, which included a short embroidered jacket. Such costume was a derivative from one of the clothing types widely known within the Ottoman Empire. The cause of its popularity was not only the fashion à la turque adopted by the Russian society of the late 19th century, but also that this type of costume was used in the uniform of Guards units recruited from Crimean Tatars (for instance, the Crimean Tatar Life Guard Squadron of His Majesty’s Own Convoy).

Festive costume of a young woman. The Crimean Gypsies, early 20th century. Taurida Province, suburbs of Simferopol

The cultural artifacts of the Crimean Gypsies in the collection of the Russian Museum of Ethnography form a small body, however they are important to understand the specifics of the Crimean historical/ethnographic region. 

The Gypsies settled in Crimes via Asia Minor and the Balkans as early as in Byzantine times. Later, in the epoch of the Crimean Khanate, they repeated the destiny of many Gypsy sub-ethnoses, entering the local multicultural scene with their peculiar role. From then on, the Crimean Gypsies known as kyrymitika roma, ayujee (Tatar for bearwards), or chingene adopted a sedentary lifestyle, switched to the Crimean Tatar language creating its special dialect, and began to profess Islam. 

Retaining the inner features of social structure and domestic lifestyle, they found their own trade niche in Crimea. The Crimean Gypsies were excellent blacksmiths and silversmiths, wove baskets, traded in horses, and women did the fortunetelling. Up to this day, the best music groups at Crimean Tatar weddings have been considered those consisting of Crimean Gypsies. In the 19th century, communities of other Gypsy sub-ethnoses appeared in Crimea.

In the clothing of the Crimean Gypsies of the late 19th and early 20th century, a strong influence of the surrounding population can be seen, the Crimean Tatars first of all. The men’s and women’s clothing was close to the costume of urban Crimean Tatars, which is especially noticeable by the example of the festive costume of a Crimean Gypsy woman, largely replicating the costume of Crimean Tatar women. In the Gypsy women’s costume, abundance of jewelry can be noticed, which is explained by the woman’s role as the keeper of family valuables.

Women’s costume. The Krymchaks, 20th century. Taurida Province, Simferopol

The Krymchaks are an ethno-confessional community, which was formed in the Middle Ages from ethnically diverse adherents of Talmudic Judaism in the Crimean Peninsula. Evidently, the primary cradles of formation of the community were towns of Old Crimea – Caffa, Solkhat, Karasubazar. Krymchaks’ genealogies indicate a wide range of the ethnos’s connections in the Mediterranean world, and the ethnic identity firmly enters it among the old-timer peoples of Crimea. The Krymchak language belongs to the Turkic language family and is close to the Crimean Tatar language. 

In the early 20th century, the Krymchaks continued to live in small-numbered closed groups in large cities of Crimea, inheritably pursuing such trades as tanning, shoemaking, and headwear making. 

In the Russian Empire, the Krymchaks were subjected to political restrictions similar to those applicable to the Jews, but lived outside the Jewish Pale.   

When Crimea was occupied by Nazi troops (1941-1944), the Krymchaks who stayed in Crimea were subjected to genocide and mass shooting execution as adherents of the orthodox Judaism. Up to 80 percent of the ethnos perished. A tremendous stratum of the Krymchak everyday culture artifacts was lost. 

For several reasons, the collection of Krymchak utensils and garments kept in the Russian Museum of Ethnography is valuable as humanity’s cultural heritage. Largely, it was assembled due to the activity of the Krymchak Council for Assistance to the State Museum of Ethnography of the Peoples of the USSR that existed in the 1960s. The council was headed by E. I. Peysakh, Krymchak educator and veteran of the Great Patriotic War. The women’s costume kept in the Russian Museum of Ethnography was made by Krymchak women in the 1960s specially for the Museum, to old patterns, from traditional fabrics. 

The traditional clothing of the Krymchaks, like many aspects of their culture, was under the influence of the Crimean Tatar culture, while meeting the confessional requirements. The traditional women’s costume indicated its owner’s age and marital status. Headwear for maidens, young married women, and elderly matrons also differed. When outdoors, the Krymchak women covered their face with a shawl, and put on buskin-like wooden shoes.  

The women’s costume ensemble always comprised golden and silver decorations, and a silver belt; it was an indispensable part of the dowry. Married women wore a necklace of coins daily. For orphan girls, decorations were purchased by the community, while parents of modest families bought decorations on credit or rented them. Women put on their decorations on holidays, when receiving guests, and when going out to the bath house weekly.

From the second half of the 19th century, the Oriental style in clothing was supplanted by European urban clothing and machine-made fabrics. Only elderly women remained true to the traditions of the past.

Women’s festive costume. Moldavians. Late 19th - early 20th century. Yekaterinoslav Province, Bakhmut District

The Moldavians are a Romance people that emerged as a result of fusion of Balkan Roman (Vlach) and Eastern Slavic population. It is known than the Vlachs formed in the north of the Balkan Peninsula and in the Carpathians on the basis of a group of Thracian tribes Romanized in the first centuries AD, who later, from the 6th century, came into contact with the Slavs who had settled in that region. In the 14th – 16th centuries, the bulk of the Moldavians lived within the medieval Moldavian Principality, in vassalage to the Ottoman Empire from the 14th century.

After the Russo-Turkish war of 1806-1812, under the 1812 Treaty of Bucharest, the lands between the Dniester and the Pruth, and the Budjak, were incorporated into Russia; Bessarabia Oblast was established in that territory in 1818, and Bessarabia Province, in 1873. The bulk of the Moldavian population inhabited Bessarabia, Yekaterinoslav, and Kherson Provinces. 

Local lore experts/collectors were essential to the acquisition of the Museum’s exhibits. Among them was Vasily Babenko, principal of the Upper Saltov School in Volchansk District, Kharkov Province. In 1909, as a result of the amateur ethnographer’s work in villages of Yekaterinoslav Province inhabited mostly by Russians, Ukrainians, and Moldavians, collections describing the material culture of these peoples, garments in particular, were acquired for the Museum. Important for us in this respect are the comments characterizing V. A. Babenko as researcher, for instance that the festive costume of a Moldavian woman living in Bakhmut District of Yekaterinoslav Province consisted of both traditional and new elements. 

The core of the garment ensemble was kamesha, a homespun chemise with seamless sleeves and tucks at the collar, decorated with geometrical and vegetal embroidery. Worn over it was a fota, bottomwear tied up with a woven woolen sash. The topwear was a sleeveless blouse of machine-made brocade, which differed in its material and design from traditional Moldavian keptars made from skin with fur inside. The emergence of this element may be explained by the compact settlement area of Moldavians together with Ukrainians, and the urban influence in clothing typical for those times.

Men’s costume. The Russians. Early 20th century. Kursk Province

A good number of resettlers in Novorossiya came from the adjacent territories of southern Russian provinces, with Kursk Province among them. Often, peasants resettled with their  families, since a lack of land was felt in their home country. Such resettlements were unauthorized or at the discretion of those recognized as the peasants’ owners, i.e. the State or the squires. Russian settlements in Novorossiya often neighbored on Ukrainian ones, or those of other ethnic groups (Bulgarians, Greeks, Moldavians, Germans etc.), each trying to retain its own tradition, including the costume, although some interaction of cultures definitely existed. 

At the same time, the urban fashion had an impact on traditional cultures.  The traditional men’s clothing of Russian peasants, unlike the women’s one, did not display plenty of local characteristics. In most cases, such objects as trousers, hats, or leather boots from different territories of inhabitance of the Russians actually did not have any distinctive features. Some features could be noticed in the shirt and belt. The peasant clothes most often occurring in the Russian people’s settlement territory were kosovorotka (skewed-collar) shirts, which became an emblematic object of the Russian culture over time. 

The Kursk peasants resettling in Novorossiya wore shirts with the collar slit at the left side, while their Ukrainian neighbors usually wore shirts fastening at the front. The characteristic features of the Kursk shirts that survived in new settlement localities are white-and-red woven designs with a geometrical ornament, which decorated the collar, hem, and sleeve cuffs; sometimes, shirts were decorated with sewn-on braid instead of woven stripes. Unlike their Ukrainian neighbors, Russians wore their shirts untucked, tying them with thin braided belts with many color tassels or little balls. With time, the kosovorotka trend came to the Ukrainians too, and they began to wear them over the trousers, just like the Russians. 

The costume of a Kursk peasant was acquired by the RME collection as a result of the expedition G. N. Babayants, researcher of the Russian People’s Ethnography Department, in 1961.

Festive costume of a young woman. Russians. Early 20th century. Yekaterinoslav Province, Pavlograd District, Ternovka village.

The festive costume of a young married woman from Ternovka village is a pinafore set typical for the Russian tradition. It consists of a chemise, a woolen slant panel pinafore, a broad sash, and a multi-component headwear. The pinafore featuring in this costume, and the headwear provide the strongest evidence that its owners once lived in southern Russian provinces, whose inhabitants took part in the colonization of the new lands in the late 18th and the 19th centuries. 

The territory of Yekaterinoslav Province, like the other two provinces of Novorossiya: Taurida and Kherson, was populated by Russians gradually, starting from the 1760s-1770s. Those were waves of resettlers of different strata and social groups occurring at different times. On the one hand, the resettlement was spontaneous and self-directed. Fugitive peasants, Old Believers, retired soldiers arrived in the new lands. Simultaneously, the new territories were systematically colonized by the government, which granted lands to landed gentry as reward, and the gentry resettled to them their peasants who had lived in various parts of European Russia, mostly central. 

The settlement of Ternovka was founded in 1775 as an artisan settlement on the spot where a blackthorn ticket was cut down by order of the Azov governor. In that locality in 1909, archeologist, ethnographer, and local lore expert Vasily Babenko acquired a small collection of women’s garments, and in particular a festive costume. This collection has become the only one in the Russian Museum of Ethnography’s depository on the Russians of Yekaterinoslav Province. The core of the women’s festive costume is a long chemise with puffed sleeves decorated with red calico and machine-made lace. The slant panel pinafore of black homespun woolen fabric with chest embroidery in metal yarn is tied with a broad striped sash. The head is crowned with a kokoshnik head-dress with a patterned silk kerchief and silk tassels. Since Russians lived there in direct contact with Ukrainians, some features may be found in the clothing of Ternovka’s women that assimilate it to Ukrainian women’s clothing; they are wide chemise sleeves, and silk kerchiefs folded in a headband as headwear decoration.

Festive costume of a Don Cossack woman. The Russians. Second half of the 19th century. Province of the Don Cossack Host

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Province of the Don Cossack Host, as well as the territory inhabited by Kuban Cossacks, were often included in Novorossiya, if the Black Sea region in general was meant. 

The traditional culture of the Don Cossacks was generated over a long time, and the history of that sub-ethnic group is traced to settlements that appeared on the lower and middle Don in the 15th century, when this land was called the Wild Field and it was unsafe to live there due to its frontier position between state nations (Muscovy, Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and Golden Horde), with continuous military clashes. In those days, people of various ethnic origins settled down there who fled from authorities looking for freedom and were ready to stand for it arms in hand. From the early 19th century, the Cossackdom became part of Russia’s socio-political and economic life as a military service class; this is indicated by the "Provision on the Governance in the Don Cossack Host” issued in 1835. 

In the foundation of the Don Cossackdom’s traditional culture, general Russian traditions can be traced, but its generation was without doubt affected by various ethnic traditions and the warlike lifestyle. For instance, the women’s costume with a kubelyok (two-flap skirt) common in the 19th century reminded, in its cut and appearance, women’s clothing of peoples inhabiting the steppe and mountain regions of North Caucasus; ethnographers reckon this clothing complex among the basic types of the Russian people’s women’s costume. It occurred in the areas of the lower and middle Don. In other localities of the Don basin, one can come across other versions of women’s traditional costume – with a sarafan (pinafore dress), a caftan, a ponyova (wrap skirt), and a skirt. In days of old, a Don Cossack woman’s clothing also included trousers of thin fabric, but by the end of the 19th century, the girls and women had quit wearing them.

The Russian Museum of Ethnography keeps a few articles indicative of the culture of the Don Cossackdom. Among them are garments and decorations of young and quite well-to-do Cossack women – chemises, kubelyoks, sarafans, fur coats, sashes, bonnets and headscarves, “chiriki” footwear, kubelyok buttons, earrings, shawls etc. This unique collection was acquired by the Museum in the early 20th century, in the first years of its functioning, from P. N. Beketov, a Navy officer and local lore student, and A. A. Miller, archeologist and ethnographer.

Everyday clothing of a chumak. Ukrainians. Early 20th century. Kherson Province

The chumak business was a carrying and trading activity that existed in the territory of Ukraine in the 16th through 19th century. The trade was pursued by the chumaks, merchants who set out for salt and fish to the lower reaches of the Don and to Crimea, to the Black and Azov Seas, from where they carried the goods to many fairs of Ukraine. The chumaks also traded in agricultural products, bread and grain, tobacco, butter, linen, skins, fur, yarn, glass and metal articles, and other goods carried on carts (mazha). 

There are several versions of the origin of the term chumak: from Turkic choom or chium, or “drayman” to chooma, or plague, which often occurred in the 19th century. 

The chumak clothing reflected all the difficulty of life on the road, where summer heat changed into spring and autumn frosts with piercing wind. 

The chumaks wore a shirt of home linen cloth tucked in wide linen trousers tied up with a wool belt wrapped around the waist several times. A lambskin cap was the headwear. The outerwear was a svita, which reliably protected them from cold, piercing wind, and rain. They took their long road wearing leather boots with hobnailed soles.

The chumaks set out to Crimea for salt in spring – in April or May, or in autumn – in late August. Contemporaries respected the chumaks, and fellow villagers paid heed to their opinion, eagerly awaiting their return from voyages. However, with the development of railroads, the chumak business gradually waned.

Men’s costume. Ukrainians. Late 19th – early 20th centuries. Kherson Province, Alexandrovsk District, village of Kalantayev

In the second half of the 18th century, Ukrainians, Germans, Serbs, Bulgarians, Moldavians, Vlachs, Greeks, and Jews started to actively resettle to Novorossiya’s lands newly acquired as a result of the Russo-Turkish wars. However, half of the population of all the districts on the region in the first half of the 19th century were of Malorossiyan descent. It was confirmed by the 1897 census which recorded the majority of Ukrainian population.

Noting the region’s ethnocultural diversity, it should be remembered that manufacturing was actively developing in the south of Novorossiya, and the influence of urban culture was felt, which was telling on the local residents’ clothing. This is why they wore kosovorotka (skewed-collar) shirts there, and shirts were often made urban-style, with sleeve cuffs and a false shirtfront, which was embroidered in red and black threads. The footwear was boots or ankle shoes, the latter also being urban influence. The costume set of a Ukrainian acquired by Aleksandr Alesho in the village of Kalantayev, Alexandrovsk District of Kherson Province, in 1914 consisted of a shirt, trousers, a homespun woolen belt, and boots or shoes. The summer headwear was a straw hat, or bryl.

Women’s wedding costume. Ukrainians. Late 19th - early 20th century. Yekaterinoslav Province

The Ukrainians are one of the three East Slavic peoples formed on the basis of a common Ancient Rus community (10th-13th centuries), consisting mostly of East Slav tribal confederations (Polans, Drevlians, Tivertsi, Severians etc.), Fenno-Ugrians etc. These built the Ancient Rus state (9th-12th centuries), which later split into the principalities of Galicia and Volhynia (12th-14th centuries), Pereyaslav, Kyiv, and Chernigov. Still later, the lands were taken by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and then by Poland. The Ukrainian ethnos was formed in the lands along the Dnieper, the Dniester, and in the Polesye lowland. 

In 1654, a large part of Ukrainian lands, complete with Kyiv, voluntarily went under the protectorate of the Russian Tsar Alexis Mikhailovich, and by the end of the 18th century, after the Third Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, it was only Galicia with Lvov annexed by Austro-Hungary, Transcarpathia and Bukovina that were left outside the territory of the Russian Empire.

After 1775, the term Malorossiya was used to denote Volhynia, Kyiv, Podolia, Kharkov, Poltava, and Chernigov Provinces.

Novorossiya is a term dating back to the era of Catherine II, used to denote the territories annexed in the 18th century as a result of the Russo-Turkish wars. Resettlement to the Novorossiyan territory, to Taurida, Kherson and Yekaterinoslav Provinces was encouraged by the authorities, considering the public necessity of agricultural colonization of the North Black Sea region and the Azov region, as free arable land was in great demand. This led to migration of a part of Malorossiya’s Ukrainian population to the new-established provinces of Russia.

Local lore expert and collector Vasily Babenko applied an integrated research method to collecting artifact and illustrative material for the Museum. For instance, the subject of Ukrainian wedding is represented in the museum’s collection by costume sets supplemented with photos taken in 1909 at a wedding in Vasilievka village, Novomoskovsk District of Yekaterinoslav Province. Detailed captions under the photos, in particular “The Pre-wedding Ritual” and “The Mantling of the Bride,” substantially complement the information on the Ukrainian wedding procedure.

In the traditional culture of the Ukrainians, wedding was a most important event in the life of a person. The marriage between a young man and a girl symbolized not only making a new family, but also attainment of a new social status, which manifested itself also in the newlyweds’ clothing. The bride’s costume was always notable for a special elegance and richness, although its components remained traditional. They were a long embroidered chemise sorochka; plakhta, unsewn bottomwear; zapaska, a wool apron; and a woven or braided sash. The wedding set was completed by yupka or outerwear, headwear, and boots of fine leather.

The headwear deserves special attention. At the wedding, the bride changed her maiden wreath to an ochipok, a married woman’s bonnet, which meant a change in the social status. The process of headgear change went along with the bride’s ritual mourning over her maidenhood, which was in the presence of her girlfriends. From that moment and for the rest of her life, a married woman did not dare to appear in public bareheaded.

Another feature of the bride’s wedding costume was its color. The dominance of red color in the women’s wedding costume was a semiotic sign symbolizing beauty, youth, and fertility.

Musical instruments

The musical culture of peoples of the North Black Sea region and Crimean Peninsula is far from uniform, which is dictated by the complicated history of colonization of these lands, by synthesis of local and foreign, eastern and western, nomadic and sedentary traditions. Researchers have repeatedly noted the combination of integrity of archaic strata of vocal and instrumental music with its openness and sensitivity to latest trends as typical for the region. The repertoire of traditional musicians includes, apart from ethnic folk tunes, also melodies of their neighbors re-interpreted in their own way. Most musical instruments that were/are in use here demonstrate relationships far beyond the region, and there also exist specific regional and local samples.

The oldest woodwind instrument by its origin is the chaban’s (shepherd’s) open flute k’aval (khaval) widely used by the peoples of Asia Minor and Southeastern Europe. The kaval is a hollow wooden pipe whose middle part has eight finger holes (seven on the front side and one on the back side), and whose lower part has up to four resonant holes. The latter always remain open and serve to improve the timbre. Folk performers call the kaval’s resonant holes “devil’s holes.” According to a Bulgarian fairytale, the devil once challenged a chaban to a musical competition, and while the shepherd was asleep, bored additional holes in his kaval to mistune it. Instead, the chaban’s kaval sounded even better, and the devil lost the competition. During the grazing, folk tunes on the kaval alternate with chaban songs. There is a popular belief that the kaval’s sound gathers the flock, and a song calms animals and helps them grow faster.

Apart from the open kaval, various whistle flutes were also widespread – Greek souravli, Bulgarian svirka, Ukrainian sopilka, or Russian dudka. The folklore of Slavic peoples has retained tales and legends about the magic little pipe whose sounds made everyone hearing it dance without rest.

A reed instrument with an airbag (bagpipe) became widely popular: Crimean Tatar and Greek tulup zurna, Bulgarian and Gagauz gaida, Armenian parkapzuk, Moldavian cimpoi, and Ukrainian koza. Asia Minor is believed to be the birthplace of the bagpipe, from which it found its way to Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, and later became widespread among many European nations. The local bagpipe consists of two playing pipes – a melody pipe (with finger holes) and a bourdon pipe (without finger holes) provided with a single chanter having a split n-shaped reed, and a blowpipe, sewn into a bellows of a solid sheep, goat, or calf skin. The bellows is held under the arm, inflated through the blowpipe, and pressed with the elbow to pump air into the playing pipes. The bagpipe sound is shrill and piercing. The instrument was played at many feasts and rites. As the Bulgarian saying goes, “You can tell a wedding by the sounds of gaida.”

The zurna (literally ‘feast fife’) is a reed woodwind instrument with a double reed widespread in the Balkans, Near and Middle East, Caucasus, in India, and in Asia Minor and Central Asia. In the times of the Ottoman Empire, the zurna was the main instrument in the Janissary orchestra. The zurna is a wooden pipe with a tapered flare, with eight finger holes (one of which is on the back side). A reed of flattened cane is inserted in the upper end of the zurna. The tapered shape of the zurna pipe renders the instrument a bright and sonorous sound. The zurna widespread in the Balkans, Asia Minor, Bessarabia, Crimea, and Azov region has a feature of seven resonant holes in the flare (2+3+2) called “genie holes” or “shaitan holes.” These holes may be pasted up with wax to tune the instrument.

A traditional ensemble was formed from zurna players. One zurna carries the melody, and the other one drawls long low sounds. Zurna players can drawl such sounds continuously: while the air in the mouth is spent, they inhale air into the lungs with their nose. The ensembles always included percussion instruments: a tambourine with ringing round copper plates (doira/ daira/ dareh /daf) and/or a large drum (dhol in Armenian, daul in Greek, chubukly davul in Tatar, and doba in Gagauz and Bulgarian) played with sticks. A bagpipe could be added to the orchestra. Instruments with a very strong and shrill sound audible far away determined its main intended purpose, that is, to perform dance tunes and music for listening, most often outdoors.

Gadulka (Bulgarian), kaush and kemenche (Gagauz), kyamani (Armenian), or Pontic lyre (Greek) is a three-stringed bow instrument scooped out of a solid piece of wood. When played, the instrument is held upright, and strings are pressed not with finger pads from above but with nails from below; this enables shifting the hand smoothly when playing, and produces an especially soft and melodious sound. In Asia Minor, Crimea, and the Balkans the instrument was pear-shaped and had gut strings; scientists relate its origin to the Byzantine Empire. In Turkey, the instrument is used to perform Sufi music. An elongated bottle-shaped bow instrument with silk strings became common on the North Black Sea coast and partly in the Caucasus. After the Greco-Turkish population exchange in 1923, the instrument appeared also in Greece. Besides, it is played in Greek and Turkish expatriate communities.

The core of a Belorussian, Ukrainian, and Moldovan orchestra was strings (violin, dulcimers, and sometimes double bass) and membranophones (tambourine and/or drum).

A. M. Listopadov wrote about the traditional music of the Don Cossacks in the early 20th century, “The instrumental music on the Don cannot boast the number of instruments used among the Cossacks, and does not add anything new to those known to be used by the Great Russians. The most popular of them is the squeeze-box that has won firm recognition everywhere in Russia. The balalaika can often be heard, violin among young people, tambourine, some of the military band instruments such as clarinet, flute, and even brass, since a certain number of Cossacks in military service are buglers and musicians in regiment bands, from which they bring their instruments home to the Don. Thus, the only original representative of the folk instruments family is the Don hurdy-gurdy, “ryleh” or “gudok” in the local vernacular.”

Generalizing the collected data, the author found noticeable differences of the Don hurdy-gurdy from the Ukrainian one, and suggested its kinship to the West European organistrum. On the basis of verbal evidence, the researcher reconstructed the history of the instrument’s spread in the Donets river area from about 1824, recovered the names of three generations of hurdy-gurdy players, and identified the repertoire (which was strictly laic). The collector acquired three of the eight identified gudoks for two museums, the Don Museum in Novocherkassk and the Dashkov Museum of Ethnography in Moscow (the latter are currently kept at the Russian Museum of Ethnography).

Among the Belarusians and Ukrainians, the hurdy-gurdy was an instrument of old beggars, blind for the most part. V. A. Babenko tells, “Gurdy players and bandura players in Yekaterinoslav Province are seldom met, and then most often coming from other, neighboring provinces, like Poltava or Kharkov. Gurdy players can always be seen at the fairs. They mostly play songs of a moral and spiritual content, such as Lazarus, Alexis the Man of God etc. They receive free-will donations for playing from the audience.”

The Belarusians’ and Ukrainians’ hurdy-gurdy was usually three-stringed, with one melody string and two bourdon ones (which do not alter the sound’s pitch). Just such hurdy-gurdies were captured in the photos taken by the collector. However, from the expedition he brought a hurdy-gurdy provided with only two melody strings, which has no analogs.

In the second half of the 19th and first decades of the 20th century, instruments of series fabrication became prevalent everywhere, such as trumpet, clarinet, European violin, guitar, mandolin, squeeze box, accordion, and harmonium, which gradually supersede ethnic instruments and radically transform the sound of traditional orchestras. A certain unification of ethnic performing styles is going on, which is also promoted by creating orchestras of academized folk instruments.

At the break of the 21st century, interest in ethnic culture increased; folk orchestras have been started aimed at authentic performance. Museum and archive collections are a reliable source base for studies on traditional music cultures and for reconstruction of instruments no longer in use.