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Russian bast shoes – to peasant or not to peasant?

These shoes accompanied the peasants from birth to end of life.

Muzhik Botching the Bast Shoes / Photo: Wikimedia cc

Bast shoes in the minds of urban men in Russia symbolize laziness and “backwardness.” But is this simple footwear, considered synonymous with backwardness and primitiveness? And what’s interesting about it  that we can learn? Everyone has long known that since ancient times and until the first quarter of the 20th century a simple Slavic people walked in sandals. Always and everywhere: in winter and summer, in the feast and in the world. This versatile shoes accompanied the peasants practically from birth to end of life.

Therefore, they firmly entered the consciousness of the people, and appear in many proverbs, fables, jokes, riddles and proverbs. Now we have completely forgotten about the native Slavic shoes: only a few people know about it anything anyway. Let us re-look at Russian bast shoes: their history, styles, functions, manufacturing techniques, and interesting facts.

Ancient gift from the Neolithic

A peasant making lapti / Photo: wikimedia cc

Recently, there are more opinions about what sandals were worn in Russia not earlier than the 15th century. But the official version says that people walked in these shoes back in the Stone Age. At least at the community that distant epoch found the bones of animals hooks, and still used in the weaving of bast.

In the old peasants, wearing sandals, they called Lapotnikov. This word is the first time you can find more on the pages of “The Tale of Bygone Years”, and later literary work – in “the Word of Daniel the Exile”.

As they were

Photo: Лобачев Владимир via wikimedia

Before you put on shoes sandals, it was necessary to wrap the foot and lower leg leggings – foot wraps. To footcloth not unwinds, and bast not dumped, tied up his special laces – Machinery, or as they are called, povorozami. They were made of leather, rope or bast. Yet they did not help, and from time to time had to rewind the unwound leggings.

They are so different!

We are accustomed to thinking that the sandals were all the same: such as we see them in the paintings of artists and in the windows of museums. But no! In the nineteenth century, there are many styles and models of shoes. There were soft sandals for home, made of willow, and strong “street” of lime. There were casual and festive, decorated with colored thread on equip. Sandals were seasonal and off-season: high-top for spring and autumn.

Laptev called any wicker shoes, birch bark was not the only material for their production. Previously enjoyed great popularity bark and Podkoren linden, elm and other deciduous trees, as well as hair, cloth and hemp yarn. And the use of different materials and increase Lykovs bands allowed to expand the lineup of bast shoes. For example, there pyateriki of five bands and volosyaniki of horse hair.

They were able to “speak”

Earlier on the Laptev could determine where I came from their owner. Eastern Slavs wove his shoes in the technique of oblique lattice, making the high side, toes round, and starting with the backdrop of the product. A West Slavic peoples used direct weaving, bead making low, triangular noses and starting to work with the sock.

How to make, so many will pass!

All that was required handyman for weaving – a block of wood, repeating the shape of the legs, a special hook Kochedykov and actually bark. Making bast at a certain skill takes very little time – a day could produce from one to nine pairs. But they are rarely traded, as there was a peasant family, where no one would be able to weave this versatile shoe.

More often than men engaged in weaving, as required for the job, hard hands and strong fingers. If netting turned weak, bast izmochalivalsya quickly. But even in the qualitative work performance summer sandals fell into disrepair in four days! Winter served a little longer – up to ten days.

Stripped as sticky

Most strong bast trailed from linden bast. At the same time it was thought that the bark of this tree is better to shoot in early spring, as soon as the first leaf begins to emerge. Craftsmen, trying to stock up for the future working material, stripped the trees so that only bare trunks gleamed in the forest. Of course, it causes harm lindens; so, perhaps, an expression of “stripped as sticky.”

Slightly interesting

The expression “Russian bast” appeared recently, somewhere in the Soviet time. They are tinged with contempt called naive simpleton, uncultured and uneducated person, as well as the villagers, alien progress.

Once in Russia width of Lapot served as a measure of length. It was a quarter of a yard, that is almost 18 cm. Naturally, farmers used it only during field work.

Lapot, despite its archaic, “live” until the 20th century. It is known that in Russia during the Civil War recruits scored in the villages of Red Army soldiers wore sandals and leggings.

Now weave bast included in the educational program of some children’s institutions in Russia and the CIS.