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Fufaika, telogreika

The term “fufaika” has different meanings, depending on region of former USSR, times and state standards. The word “fufaika” itself is a Russian, allegedly founded “on the basis of borrowed from Italian fofa-, “warm shirt”. I suppose that clothing called “fufaika” on this picture is more known in Russia as a “telogreika” (body warmer) or “vatnik” (made from cottonwool). In Poland it was called “kufaika”.

The origin of telogreika is also undeterminated. Authors of the article Telogreika in RT site claim that this clothing was invented by Finns and copied by the USSR and their allies after the Winter war. But there exist evidences that clothes similar with vatnik existed much before the WWII.

In the dictionary of Vladimir Dal’:


Fufayka – f.  sweatshirts. Short, warm coat, knitted, wool or quilted, etc. Childish “fufaechka”, “fufaychonka”, “fufaychonochka”. “Fufaechnye” sleeves.

In the Ushakov’s dictionary:


Fufaika, f. (from italian. “fofa”). Warm knit shirt without sleeves or with sleeves, dressed down for warmth or worn on top. Wool fufaika. Paper fufaika. A warm fufaika.

In the 4th edition of Ozhegov dictionary it has two meanings: «1. Warm knitted shirt. 2. The same with vatnik»


Users of this forum suppose that telogreika appeared in Manchuria in the time of Russian-Japanese war. Our troops had a lack of enough warm clothing, and traditional sheepskin coats weren’t sent from Sankt-Petersburg. Then our cunning quartermasters had agreed with the local Chinese tailors and our soldiers have been supplied by the Chinese style jacket. Whatever it was, coachmen’ clothing “volan” filled with cotton wool, existed in Russia even before the Japanese war, it was mentioned by Russian writer Vladimir Gilyarovskiy in the beginning of XX century.

Probably on of the first photos of telogreika, Red army members of the Civil war in Finland 1918:

After the Red upheaval telogreikas graduately became popular. Without exaggeration, Telogreika – universal clothing which created a new historical community of people – the Soviet people, “sovoks”. It’s mentioned in songs and poems and has saved thousands of people from freezing to death. Telogreikas were issued for prisoners of Gulag and for genseks (Secretary General) : the first ones as an uniform for work and life, the second ones – for the hunting. The first was tiny and had a law quality, the second – lined with fur and additional layers for heating. Prisoners’ telogreikas have been numbered.

Telogreikas in 1930s

Dark mouse-colored, quilted jackets were equally elegant on everybody. The costume was often supplemented with cotton pants, especially it looked nice on the ladies working with rails and sleepers for railway repair works :D Telogreika two-piece suit called “entsefalitka” and, in conjunction with the screens, was an almost bulletproof protection against moskitos and freeze in the taiga and tundra.

Ватная телогрейка  1941


Telogreika and Ushanka worn by Soviet partisans of the Sydir Kovpak partisan detachment in Ukraine

In the WWII cotton Telogreika in contrast to the coat, was not the subject of uniforms, and belonged to a group of warm clothes. Telogreika was issued with a cotton trousers in the winter time and was intended to be worn under the cloak instead of the shirt.

During World War II telogreikas have been widely used together with the coats, and were preferred for certain categories of military combat types and climatic conditions. Wearing telogreika, complete with cape-tents were distributed on the southern front. They were more comfortable with wearing a camouflage suit. It was preferred to wear by scouts, skiers, soldiers of the assault troops and groups in the conduct of combat in urban environments.
The widespread wearing of telogreika instead of coats and the need to distinguish Red Army commanders from ordinary soldiers caused structural changes in its cover: replacement of the “vorotnik-stoika” (collar-stand) by the standing collar with buttonholes.

Later the Red Army was supplying telogreikas not only to its own troops, but also to partisans and allies like Poland and Hungary. In WW2, freezing German soldiers also appreciated the qualities of telogreikas, taking them from the captured or killed.

Also vatniks got a great popularity among asian allies of the USSR, when i see the word “chinese” i imagine an asian migrant wearing “telogreika”:

The Telogreika faded from military issue in the early 1960s, being largely replaced by the return to the old woollen shinel greatcoat and the bushlat. In the early 1980s the introduction of the Afghanka field uniform marked the dawn of a new era in the Soviet Army. Today, the Telogreika is still used in Russia and many Soviet Bloc countries by private citizens. In Russia it is particularly popular amongst night watchmen and workers in the construction industry.

What do you think?

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