September 15, 2016

2754 RUSSIA (Republic of Chuvashia) - Chuvash woman in traditional costume

2754 The matchmaker Anastasia,
painting by Nikolai Vassilievich Ovchinnikov, 1978

The Chuvash people are a Turkic ethnic group, native to an area stretching from the Volga Region to Siberia. Most of them live in Republic of Chuvashia and surrounding areas, although Chuvash communities may be found throughout the Russian Federation. The closest ancestors of the Chuvashes seem to be the Volga Bulgars. They have been subjected to much influence, not only from Russian and Turkic peoples, but also from neighboring Finnic tribes. Racially, the Chuvash seem to be a mixed Finnic and Turkic type.

Chuvashes are divided into two main groups: Virjal (upper), living upstream of Volga River, and Anatri (lower), living downstream of the river. Anatri preserved the ethnic features of the Bulgar Chuvash. The traditional costume of Anatri women is based on the chemise, with the addition of an apron, ornaments hanging from the sash, neck and shoulder, and a headdress covered in beads and coins (tukhya), which sometimes has a point on top. This seems to be an ancient Turkic custom, which may be connected with the legend of the Princess Gulaim and her fourty maiden warriors, known as the Kirk Kiz.

The chemises are ornamented with minimal embroidery, but has applique of red ribbon. The design on the chest is asymmetrical, very unusual elsewhere. The married women have embroidered over the breasts rosettes, known as keske. The keske are very famous, and were often cut out of chemises and exhibited in Russian and other museums. Those who could not afford boots wore footcloths and birchbark shoes over them.

Women can also wear a headcloth known as the surpan, wrapped around the head over an embroidered headpiece called the masmak. Another type of women's headress, more widespread, is known as the khushpu. This takes many shapes, and may look similar to the tukhya, but is always open on top, and has a long piece which hangs down the back. It is worn over the surpan, which is wrapped around the head, with both ends hanging in back.

About the stamps
The first stamp is part of the serries XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. Tourism on the Black Sea Coast of Russia, about which I wrote here. The last is part of the series Bridges, about which I wrote here.

Chuvash people - Wikipedia
Costume of the Anatri Chuvash - Folk Costume & Embroidery

Sender: NataliaKus (postcrossing) RU-5006909
Sent from Cheboksary (Republic of Chuvashia / Russia), on 03.09.2016

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