Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1877 Cossack hetman
Subject: гетьман cavalry commander
Culture: Ukrainian Cossack
Setting: Russian empire 19thc
Evolution1648 Cossack litsar > 1774 Cossack haidamak > 1877 Cossack hetman

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

​* Marsh ed. 1996 p45
"The Cossacks were warriors who lived in anarchic and egalitarian communities that had grown up in the steppe frontiers of Muscovy and imperial Russia. Over the course of time they had been brought back under the control of the imperial state. The imperial state had always viewed the anarchic Cossack social order with intense suspicion, since it posted an implicit and on occasion an explicit challenge to its own autocratic order. At the same time, the state valued the martial abilities of the Cossacks and sought to preserve them. Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the control of the state gradually tightened until the independence of the Cossacks had vanished. The state granted the Cossacks land in return for military service, and it was this that gave the Cossacks their dual identity as warriors and peasants."

​* McNeal 1987 p23
​"In the latter years of the Russian Empire, the Cossacks were often called the 'martial estate' (voennoe soslovie), and with reason.  No other estate was defined by its military obligations, while the Cossacks survived as a legal entity because of their special contribution to the armed power of the Empire.  Every substantial issue involving the Cossacks revolved around the military service that they rendered."

* Vuksic/Grbasic 1993 p210
"The Black Sea Cossacks existed as an independent army until 1860, when Kuban province was formed.  A series of edicts (ukazy) established a new administrative order, with civil and military power in the hands of one man, the administrator of Kuban province and head ataman of one of the Cossack regiments.  The province was divided in to seven regions, each of which raised several hundred Cossacks for peacetime service.  The main occupation of the male population, besides horse-breeding, was life-long service in the army.  From the moment a Cossack took the oath, at the age of 20, he was considered to be in the employ of the state.  For a year he was in training; for four years in the first category of active service, for another four years in the second, for a further four in the third, and his remaining years until the age of 48 were spent in the reserve.  A Cossack had to provide his own horse and weapons."


* Groushko 1992 p105
"Within ... broadly distinctive local styles, there were innumerable differences of colour, material and accoutrements.  And the Cossack habit of stripping the dead of any items which took their fancy ensured that, even when all members of a squadron started a campaign dressed in roughly the same way, they often ended it looking very different from each other.
    "From Platov's day onwards, as the free hosts were assimilated more closely into the mainstream of Russian life, the authorities tried hard to persuade them to assume a better-disciplined, military appearance.  It was sometimes an uphill effort.  For example, all ranks in the crack Don Ataman Guard Regiment were ordered to wear belts -- but because they provided their own, no particular colour or pattern could be specified, so their look was hardly enhanced.
    "As the 19th century progressed, conformity increased.  By the time of the Crimean War (1853-56), battledress had been largely standardised, with only minor regional variations among the hosts.  Ordinary Cossack horsemen wore tunics and trousers of brown-grey, at first with plentiful colourful facings.  Those were eventually reduced or discarded in favour of all-over khaki or, for summer campaigns, a white tunic and dark trousers.  That remained the style into the First World War.
    "Parade uniforms, though also standardised, were altogether more colourful, with clearer regional distinctions.  The kaftan or chekmen had generally given way to a western-style tunic worn over dark, baggy trousers.  It was usually of red, modelled on the dress of the Cossack regiments.  But the tunic of the Ataman Guards Regiment was a highly distinctive pale blue.
    "Cossacks of the Tsar's Own Convoy, raised in the Caucasus by Nicholas I as a personal escort, retained the traditional cherkeska and woollen hat particular to the region.  With it, they carried both a sabre and dagger." 


* Müller & Kölling 1984 p146
"Im Kaukasus kämpfende Kavallerieeinheiten, besonders die Kosaken, übernahmen im ersten Drittel des 19. Jahrhunderts mit der <<Schaschka>> einen auffallend ausgeprägten Säbeltyp der dort beheimateten Bergvölker.  Charakteristische Merkmale sind der einfache Griff, dem sowohl Bügel als auch Parierstange fehlen, dessen Knauf auf der Oberseite als halbrunde Kluft oder Kehle ausgebildet ist und in der Seitenansicht sinem stilisierten Vogelkopf ähnelt.  Der Griff ist auf eine mäßig gekrümmte, gekehlte, einschneidige Klinge montiert.  Auch die typische Trageweise bleib erhalten.  Entgegen der üblichen europäischen Manier befinden sich die Trageringe auf der konvex gebogenen Scheidenseite, so daß im Gehänge die Schneidenseite des Säbels nach oben zeigte.  In der russischen Armee wurde die Schaschka schon 1834 erstmalig als Modellwaffe ausgegeben.  Einige andere russische Munster werden ebenfalls als Schaschka bezeichnet, ohne die kaukasische Grifform aufzuweisen.  Ausschlaggebend für die Benennung ist die gleiche Trageweise.  Die Scheiden der Schaschka bestanden im ganzen 19. Jahrhundert aus Holz und waren mit schwarzem Leder und später mit einem gummiartigen Material überzogen.  Bei der russischen Heeresreorganisation 1881/82 wurden die Linienkavallerieregimenter (Husaren, Kürassiere, Ulanen) in Dragonerregimenter umgewandelt.  Alle berittenen Truppenteile, ausgenommen die Garde, sollten mit der Dragonerschaschka Modell 1881 einen <<vollkommenen>> Säbel erhalten.  Doch beschloß man bald, den Kosakeneinheiten ihre eigene Schaschka zu belassen.  Auffällig an der Dragonerschaschka für Mannschaften sind die drei Ringbänder an der Scheide.  In ihre Ösen steckte man das Bajonett des Dragonergewehrs.  Der neue Kampfsäbel wurde nach kaukasischer Art in einem schmalen Gürtel über der rechten Schulter getragen.  Nach der Niederlage Rußlands im Krieg mit Japan 1904/05 und den Erschütterungen des zaristischen Systems in der bürgerlich-demokratischen Revolution 1905 bis 1907 sollten die angeschlangene Moral der Truppen und der Korpsgeist der Armee durch Zurücknahme einiger Reformen der Jahre 1881/82 wieder gehoben werden.  Mit einer bunten Palette traditionaller und neuer Blankwaffentypen sowie mit Belohnungs- beziehungsweise Auszeichnungswaffen hofften die Herrscher Rußlands, Soldaten und Offiziere stärker an das Regime binden zu können.  Bei den Soldaten allerdings vergebens, wie der Rote Oktober des Jahre 1917 zeigen sollte."

* Tarassuk/Blair 1979 p420
​"This elegant weapon was often richly decorated with ivory and gold for special uniforms worn by court dignitaries and the tsar himself.  Good-quality shashka were often made to his order for presentation to the Cossacks as a reward for bravery.
    "During the conquest of the Caucasus, Russian troops gradually adopted the native shashka, instead of their army-issue sabers, and from the 1830s it was officially allowed as a service weapon in the Russian Army's Caucasian Corps.  However, from 1838 this original type of shashka was authorized mostly for Cossacks and officers stationed in the Caucasus."

* Wilkinson-Latham 1973 p24-25
"The first sword of the 'Asiatic pattern' as it was called, or what we term today as the shashka, was introduced in 1834.  From that date onwards, the French influence slowly decreased as this new form of weapon came to the fore and continued in use up to 1917 and later.  The true Caucasian shashkas had a plain grip with no knuckle bow or cross guard fitted to a single edged curved blade. The pommel was invariably beak shaped and incorporated a hole to fit the sword knot.  The scabbard was in wood with a leather covering and brass mounts.  Some patterns have additional rings in which the bayonet was fitted, but all have the rings on the outer curve of the scabbard so that when worn the sword hangs with the hilt upwards and not downwards as was normal.  This method was copied from the traditional method of carrying this style of sword, which allowed the weapon to be in the correct place for drawing it.
    "A variation for Cossacks was introduced in 1838 and another variety, but with knuckle bow, for dragoons in 1841, this latter pattern having a hilt not dissimilar in appearance to the French pattern infantry sword of 1821.  Under Alexander II, these styles continued in use with a new pattern with knuckle bows being introduced in 1865 and 1868.  In 1881, a commission was appointed to design a sword to replace the numerous variations and varieties in use in the different branches of the army which resulted in the pattern of 1881 being adopted.  This pattern was destined to replace all the other weapons in use for all branches of the service and for both officers and men.
    "As soon as the universal pattern sword had been approved, it was decided to allow the Cossacks to retain their traditional style of sword which, under the new system, took on many points of the universal pattern.  The pommel and back of the hilt were in brass and the grip of diagonally lined wood.  The blade and scabbard were the same as the universal pattern.  There were versions in both types for officers and men, differing only in the quality of finish and having engraved blades and pommels.
    "In 1909, a slightly different version of the pattern of 1881 was issued and a new sword based on the cavalry pattern of 11826 was adopted by the cavalry.  Cossacks, while having a new pattern approved in 1910, were allowed, by Imperial command to wear and use swords that had been family heirlooms and were not forced to adopt the regulation weapon."




* Tarassuk/Blair 1979 p290
​"The kama has remained part of the Caucasian national costume and used to be worn by some Cossack regiments of the Russian Imperial Army."




​* Wilkinson 1974 p41
"The pistol of the Cossack has certain characteristics: it is distinguished by its rather thin stock and an acutely angled butt which terminates in a large ball-shaped pommel. The lock has the general appearance of the miguelet, and the barrel and stock are frequently decorated with bands of niello silver made by the action of sulphur on silver which produces a pattern in black."