Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1648 Cossack litsar
Subject: лицар cavalryman
Culture: Zaporozhian and other Cossacks
Setting: border raiding, Chmielnicki & Razin revolts, Ukraine 17thc

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources. Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Groushko 1992 p46
"With Russian government money and grain assured and permission to trade, the free Cossack communities of the Lower Dnieper and Don, the Yaik and the Terek began to prosper and grow in the 17th century.  Their rivers were full of fish, the steppe was full of game -- and what they lacked could be acquired by raids on the affluent Turkish empire to the south.
    "Cossack life changed to reflect this new prosperity.  Their settlements became more permanent affairs of wooden huts rather than improvised hovels.  But the Cossacks continued to spurn farming, other than the seasonal haymaking from the steppe grass that was necessary to provide winter fodder for their horses.  Long absences fighting did not sit well with agriculture.
    "The fierce egalitarianism of the earliest, wildest days in theory remained.  But the annually elected ataman was no longer a scruffy first among equals.  He became an imposing figure amid his horsetail standards -- the symbol of authority copied from the Tartars -- and rich banners such as the one presented to the Don Cossacks by Tsar Michael Romanov.  With his lieutenants, the ataman took most decisions for the community.  Full assemblies of all Cossack males, when summoned, were mostly to confirm plans already made, though what was lost in power was gained in pomp.
    "Their kingmaking activities, and the flattery they received from Tsar Michael or others seeking their fighting services, increased the Cossacks' self-esteem.  The bachelor warriors of the Zaporozhi styled themselves ritsari (knights) and Michael referred to the 'Knights of the Don'."

* Groushko 1992 p54
"Spectacular victories against the might of Poland in Bogdan Khmelnitsky's campaign of 1648-49 confirmed the growing international reputation of the Cossacks as doughty land warriors.  Swedes, Turks, Austrians, even the English writer and clergyman Samuel Purchas all spoke respectfully of their courage, fierceness, endurance -- and their aptitude for surprise attacks.  Any army that could afford to buy their loyalty was glad to have them on its side.
    "Bogdan's host of 4,000-8,000 Zaporozhi and Ukrainian Cossacks was heavily influenced by Polish military traditions and so not altogether typical of Cossack fighting groups of the time.  When it set out to confront the Poles in the spring of 1648, it had, for example, the luxury of several cannons under a specialist commander of ordnance.  Among the Zaporozhi, foot-soldiers outnumbered horsemen, and in several of Bogdan's encounters his Tartar allies played the sort of role Cossack horse-warriors soon came to make their own.  In other respects though, all Cossack fighters had much in common with each other."


* Yarwood 1978 p420
​"In general, men's dress consisted of full trousers tucked into leather boots, a white, long-sleeved shirt embroidered in colour at neck and sleeves and a sleeveless decorative jacket. For cold weather a cloak or caftan of homespun cloth was worn and a fur hat or cap."

* Leventon ed. 2008 p251 (reconstructing a Ukrainian Cossack)
"He wears a soft, elongated cloth cap.  His full, Turkish-style trousers with galloon trim are tucked into soft leather boots; the long sleeves of his tunic are tied behind his back (ready for action); a leather pouch for ammunition hangs across one shoulder; and he holds a long Turkish pipe."

* ​Groushko 1992 p54
"​Like the Mongols before them, they were theoretically and loosely organised into platoons of ten and companies of one hundred. Uniforms were largely non-existent, a characteristic that lasted among the free Cossacks until the 19th century; however, kaftans and baggy trousers tucked into boots or Turkish-style slippers were common wear.  The Cossacks scorned armour.  What they lost in protection they gained in the ability to move quickly and silently, whether on horseback, foot, or in a boat."

* Sichel 1986 p22
"The men's costume is simpler than that of the women, consisting of a white shirt with wide sleeves, embroidered on the collar, down the front opening and round the cuffs, and full white linen trousers, tucked into high top boots usually of red leather.  A sash is worn around the waist, the ends hanging one on each side.
    "A type of overcoat, called a svita, is worn by both men and women.  It is of white grey or brown homespun cloth; tight at the waist and trimmed with colour cords.  An astrakhan cap is worn in the winter."


* Tarrasuk/Blair 1979 p297
"Sabers of the kilij type were ... widely used in eastern Europe, and they were especially popular among the Cossacks of the Ukraine and southern Russia."