Table of contents:
- Types of belt buckles in Russia in the 17th - early 18th centuries
- Enamel on Russian belt buckles of the 17th-18th centuries
Video: Russian belt buckles of the 17th-18th centuries: How they appeared and who wore them
2023 Author: Richard Flannagan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 05:58
This material contains various buckles and onlays that were used to decorate belts in the second half of the 17th - 18th centuries. Virtual reconstruction helps to present these objects in a form very close to their original state. Of course, such a garment as a belt reflected the social status of its owner.
The richly decorated belts of the nobility are in the collections of various museums. The bulk of the people used more simply decorated belts, but the general tendency was the same - to stand out from the crowd, to emphasize their individuality. Craftsmen went to meet customers, creating jewelry for belts in the form of buckles and onlays, decorated with enamels and various allegorical images reflecting the culture of their time. Such items, decorated with multi-colored enamels, looked like an imitation of the precious ornaments of the elite belts, but were affordable for the middle class and therefore became widespread in the second half of the 17th century. With the beginning of reforms Peter I and the massive penetration of samples of Western art into Russia, propagandized from above, national traditions are gradually giving way to imitation and, on its basis, the creation of a Russian version of the European direction in art.
Findings of 17th century belt buckles are not common and, more often than not, their condition is deplorable. Not to mention the loss of enamel, mechanical damage from agricultural machinery or caverns from oxides spoil the artifact so much that it bears little resemblance to a bright and elegant product that came out of the hands of a master many years ago. Finding a whole piece is a rarity, much more often half or even a small fragment of a buckle is found. Also rare are the finds of belt plaques that were attached to the canvas of a belt or decorated hanging straps for carrying weapons.
In the photographs, you can see some moments illustrating the state of objects when they were found or after they were washed from the ground. In this book, all illustrations of complete buckles are made using virtual reconstruction. The author strove, whenever possible, to convey the kind of object that he had coming out of the hands of a master - artisan.
The belt, as a part of a person's clothing, taking the shape of a circle, has been serving as a guardian-protector of its owner since ancient times. Woven and woven belts were made with a specific protective purpose, the same purpose is pursued by the images on the belt buckle. It was believed that the girded person was "afraid of the demon"; neither the brownie nor the goblin would touch him. The magical properties of the belt fastening the union of the young were also used in the wedding ceremony: the bride or groom and the bride are tied with a belt, a knot with a bride's dowry, a cake for the groom after the first wedding night, a glass or bottle for the groom, etc. The wealth of mythological and fairy-tale characters on belt buckles of the 17th century speaks of the continued existence of a tradition among the people, which has its roots in the paganism of the ancient Slavs. A wide acquaintance of Russia with Western interpretations of symbols will take place later, at the beginning of the new century, after the publication in 1705 of the book "Symbols and Emblematics". Tsar Peter I introduced European symbols into the life of the nobles, but the common people lived for a long time with old, traditional ideas about various symbols used in everyday life.
It was not possible to document who could have worn belts with such buckles; in the available sources, buckles made of precious metals worn by people from the upper strata of society are mainly presented. However, the found products, albeit made by foundry workers and being in fact mass production, were decorated with multi-colored enamels, and this technology was not cheap at that time. The first question that arises when you get to know these buckles is what, apart from the usual function of a belt, were belts with such buckles intended for? Consider the main option for such a purpose - carrying weapons. In the above figures, there are no images of belts with such buckles, which is understandable, at the time when the author of these drawings lived, such products were no longer met. And more expensive things that belonged to the upper class were available for study and sketches.
It is likely that belts with buckles decorated with enamels were intended for the small serving nobility, wealthy townspeople, middle-class merchants and other categories of citizens who had money to purchase them. As for the nobility in the 17th century, often the noble children separated from their fathers owned one or two families of peasants and plowed the land and mowed the grass in their "estates" on a par with their serfs. The figures from F. G. Solntsev's "Clothes of the Russian State" published in 1869, presents "service people" of the 17th century.
We also see belts with buckles on the figures of the 17th century boyars. Moreover, the number of parts in these buckles is the same as on those considered in this article - two parts in which the belt itself was attached, and a fastener consisting of two parts.
Types of belt buckles in Russia in the 17th - early 18th centuries
Consider the types of buckles used on belts in the Moscow State in the 17th - early 18th centuries, but first you need to provide a brief history of the origin of various belt buckles.
The most ancient is the type of buckle with a hook-and-loop lock. An excellent study of the origin of various belt buckles and fastening weapons was carried out by Vladimir Prokopenko. Here is a quote from his work:.
The development of such fasteners is the type of the lock "Two loops - hook". - writes V. Prokopenko.
Now we turn to the third type of buckles with a lock consisting of movable loops. The history of the origin of such buckles goes back centuries. They have been known in China since the 10th century.
In Russia, this type of buckle was used already in the XII-XIII centuries. There are rare finds of similar, cast from silver, buckles with the image of a falcon. Unlike the 17th century buckles presented below, where this part is movable and attached to the hinges, the "key" is cast together with a part of the buckle, just like on the buckles of the Ming dynasty.
Another version of this type of buckles of the pre-Mongol period is shown in the photo (A).
This type of buckle was widely used in the Golden Horde as well. Before the adoption of Islam, buckles with various plots were widespread, produced by Chinese masters (B) - the Jin Empire, the plot was a deer and a monkey on a tree. XIII century
With the adoption of Islam by the Mongol khans, the canons and rules of Islamic art began to be applied to decorate the buckles (B).
The same type of buckle was used to join the mantle of church hierarchs. The half of the buckle found in Ukraine, in the lock - the medallion, bears the image of the scene " Crucifixion with the Forthcoming". The characteristic decorative solution in European traditions allows dating the time of its existence to the 16th - 17th centuries.
In the buckles considered below, widespread in Moscow Russia in the second half of the 17th century, this type was further developed. The innovation was the separation of the elements of the lock from the one-piece buckle. As a result of modernization, both the lock itself, in the form of a disc with a slot, and the key, with a round decorated medallion, received greater freedom of movement. They became independent, separate structural elements. Now these elements were attached to the buckle with loops and pins.
With regards to this type of buckles V. Prokopenko writes: “In the 16th - 17th centuries, in the Muscovy kingdom, on the basis of fasteners-locks with movable loops, a unique version of a belt buckle is formed, which is characteristic exclusively for this region. It consists of a pair of symmetrical large flaps with a suspension system similar to puff buckles (side with hinges on the reverse side), movable hinges and a "lock" - "key" system.
The “lock” is characterized by a cruciform or “T” -shaped cutout in the disk, an ornament (A) or an inscription (B) along the perimeter of the disk of the lock. Usually this is a short, but meaningful excerpt from longer etiquette inscriptions - sayings that were widely used in the culture of the 16th - 17th centuries.
The key entering the lock had a different decoration, sometimes repeating the design of the buckle halves, sometimes having its own original solution. Since imitation casts were practiced locally, away from the main production centers, there are a large number of substandard copies or casters-edited versions of the images on the key locket.
During the Middle Ages, the belt performed various functions. First, they, like now, were girded with clothes. Until the 15th - 17th centuries, when pockets appeared on Russian clothes, small knives, armchairs, donkeys, wallets and leather bags - "kalits", were hung from it. (Rabinovich M. G., 1986. S. 85)
Additional straps were attached to the belt on which the saber was suspended. The transitional attachment element could be various types of belt buckles-suspensions. In addition, the belts were decorated with additional decorative elements, such as: medallions with various symbolic images, decorative overlays, belt endings.
Strict requirements were imposed on buckles and other elements of the combat belt. In any case, the fastening and fasteners had to be reliable, allowing them to withstand the gravity and manipulation of the saber. In addition to a belt at the waist, the military also wore additional belts - sling. So the archer shown in the figure, having a firearm, in a special sling, wore supplies for firefighting - a powder flask, a puller, a tinderbox, etc.
Now let's turn to the buckle plates themselves, which is actually stated in the title of this work, their decorative design. After the Time of Troubles, a period of strengthening and development of the state begins. The main traditional crafts are beginning to progress rapidly, absorbing the achievements of Western culture. Enamel art flourishes.
Enamel on Russian belt buckles of the 17th-18th centuries
Cast enamel is a variation of the champlevé enamel technique. Its difference lies in the fact that the image is obtained not by sampling a metal background by hand, but by casting it together with a metal plate - the base.
After that, the recess on the plate is filled with enamel, subjected to heating, from which the enamel spreads and is bonded to the metal. Then the product was subjected to cleaning and polishing. In the enamel casting technique, various alloys are used, both noble metals and copper alloys, brass and bronze. An opaque pasty enamel is applied over copper alloys. This technology appears in Russia in the 17th century. Several centers of such craft were formed, intermediaries appeared who sold these products throughout the state.
The geography of finds of buckles for belts is extensive, but the bulk falls on the European part of Russia. Such buckles look rich and bright, which is facilitated by enamels. This style reflects the general trend of the second half of the 17th century, with its striving for splendor, brightness and luxury. The strengthening of the Moscow state, which defended itself from external and internal enemies, the splendor of church services and tsarist exits, could not but affect the broad masses of the population. The desire to imitate the upper classes and was realized by the opportunity to purchase items of equipment decorated with enamel.
It should be added that the technique of painted enamel also appeared, which in the forties of the 17th century began to be used almost simultaneously by the masters of Moscow and Solvychegodsk. Pectoral crosses and pectoral crosses began to be decorated with enamel, which was done before, but not on such a scale. The crosses themselves take on a variety of decorative forms. "Prosperous" crosses … It is possible to identify some centers for the production of such products. The "Veliky Ustyug", the northern origin of these crosses is indicated by the way the enamel was applied - the white enamel background is covered with black and yellow dots, and the Calvary cross is covered with blue or green enamel.
Having decided on the history and functional belonging of the buckles in question, let's pay attention to their symbolism and start with the most popular symbol known as "Fierce Beast".
This quote from the work of OP Likhachev "Lion-Fierce Beast" is the best way to characterize the study of the concept of "Fierce Beast" in ancient Russian literature, fairy tales and legends. The work of the academician is devoted to the analysis of this issue. In most of the small sculptures of the medieval period, it is still a lion. The lion is a symbol of domination. He is represented many times in heraldry, and in Russian fairy tales he appears as “the king of beasts”. If we recall astrology, then the constellation Leo is associated with the Sun, and its features as a symbol have a solar form.
Read the rest of the article: Russian fairy tales on belt buckles of the 17-18 centuries: Indrik the beast, Kitovras - Polkan, the Sirin bird, Alkonost, etc.
Russian fairy tales on belt buckles of the 17-18 centuries: Indrik the beast, Kitovras - Polkan, Sirin bird, Alkonost, etc
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