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Color symbolics in traditional clothes of the Ob ugr



A.A. Bogordayeva

On the basis of investigating traditional clothing of the Ob Ugrians the author considers questions of color symbols. For reconstruction of certain modes of color-marking, she attracts materials on clothing of the neighboring peoples as well as those of the Finnish-lingual people of the Volga basin related to the Ob Ugrians.

The color symbolics in traditional culture is of great interest to researchers and is most fully shown in a traditional suit. As one of the most striking examples of dynamics of a color naming it is possible to consider the traditional clothes of the Ob ugr possessing now high degree of safety. It reflects all range of the cultural and economic complex with its local features including classes hunting, fishery, reindeer breeding and also agriculture and livestock production. The archaic forms of traditional clothes of Khanty and Mansi described by researchers of culture of the people of Siberia, clothes of idols and cult vestments allow to define the initial stages of use of color symbolics and dynamics of a color naming. The typological similarity of many types of clothes on breed, material, manufacturing techniques and receptions of ornament at the Ob ugr with related it the finnoyazychny people of the Volga region and also neighbors — Nenets, Tatars, Selkups — promotes identification of color symbols and changes in ways of a color naming.

Modern field researches show that the transformation of a complex of traditional clothes of the Ob ugr observed in recent years caused by the general changes of natural, biological and production character is rather technological and is connected with replacement of traditional materials and ways of production of a suit. The feature of color symbolics of traditional clothes is that the technological changes in a way of transfer of color caused first of all by improvement of instruments of production lead to transformation of maintenance of a color naming which gets additional functions. Filling of color symbols new values happens to expansion of the sphere of human activity, development of natural spaces, emergence of new technologies. So, the color dichotomy white-black (light-dark) is gradually moved apart and complemented in other flowers with the values, but already secondary by origin. At the same time limits of functional value of the first are gradually narrowed and receive new sounding.

According to local features of a cultural and economic complex the traditional clothes of the Ob ugr can conditionally be divided into the clothes of hunters fishers sewed from skins of birds and animals, skin of fishes and a rovduga; clothes of farmers and cattle breeders — from fabric, wool and skins; clothes of reindeer breeders — from skins of animals and a rovduga. The convention of this division is defined by a possibility of use of the listed materials for production of a suit in various production groups. The clothes from different types of material were respectively decorated: sewed from skins of birds and animals — a mosaic and coloring, from skin — paint, an embroidery, beads, metal pendants, from fabric — an embroidery, applique, beads, metal pendants. In general all complex of traditional clothes of the Ob ugr was sustained in uniform color style.

The most widespread in traditional clothes of the Ob ugr is red color. Its dominating role in a suit of Khanty and Mansi was noted still by researchers of the 18th century [Novitsky, 1884, page 71]. Strings of red color were used in all four known types of an embroidery of the Ob ugr, but also, more — in an embroidery kerem-hanch which is considered the most ancient at Khanty [Products of ostyak..., 1911, page 64]. Often edges of shoulder clothes from cloth and cotton fabric and also a gusset, gate, edge of a belt were sheathed by the fabric of red color contrast in relation to the main background of clothes [Dunin-Gorkavich, 1911, page 79]. On me-

hovy clothes of a strip of red cloth were inserted into seams, including into seams of a fur mosaic [Schultz, 1924, page 178]. The ornament drawn with red paint of own production decorated footwear from a rovduga [Gondatti, 1888, page 17]. Receptions of decoration of clothes red paint, a covering red fabric at the edges, are known for a vshivaniye of strips of red color in seams of clothes at the Ob ugr and now [Z.P., 1972, page 40-41; Lukina, 1985, page 42, 47, 51-52, 56; Fedorova, 1994, page 125, 131, 151-152]. For example, in 1991 at lyapinsky Mansi were recorded by us: the dress (soup) of yellow color with the tunikoobrazny coquette and gussets decorated with applicative strips of red color on edge of the coquette, cuffs, a hem and a border about 3 cm wide of red color; a fur coat from fur of a deer and the footwear sewed from deer kamus, decorated by the edgings of red color from cloth inserted into seams; the bashmakovidny footwear from a rovduga decorated with strips of paint of red color. On our field materials of 1997, at varyegansky Khanty the women's dressing gown of Saky often meets — from cloth of green color a smell on the left side and a collar with the wide rectangular ends, a cuff which collar and a hem are sheathed by a border from red cloth about 15 cm wide with the white buttons sewed on it; and also the footwear from deer kamus with the edgings inserted into seams from red cloth sheathed on the upper edge of tops by a border from cloth of the same color about 3-5 cm wide. In this area the porshnevidny footwear from a rovduga painted with paint of red color is recorded. Besides, are often sewed by varyegansky Khanty of a strip from fabric of red color on modern clothes, for example raincoats. This reception of decoration of clothes of a modern sample is known almost at all Khanty of east group (Agan, Vakh, Vasyugan, Pim, Tromjegan, Salym Rivers) [Lukina, 1985, page 203].

From cloth and cotton fabric of red color sewed women's, men's and a kidswear which was considered as elegant. Especially it was widespread among northern groups of the Ob ugr [In the same place, 1985, page 167; Fedorova, 1994, page 203]. In 1991 we recorded use of the Khanty dressing gown torsos from red cotton fabric with the meeting floors on ties, without humeral seams, with the side trapezoid inserts sewn to a shelf and a back and forming dredging with a direct sleeve. Shelves and a bottom of a dressing gown were decorated by applique of white color. The dressing gown was presented to Mansi M.K. Albina (1926, the village of Shchekurya) by her girlfriend the Khanty from the Kazyma River.

The clothes of red color were sewed for idols [Gemuyev, Sagalayev, 1986, page 174]. For example, the suit of the patroness of birth at Mansi Kaltashch-ekva having ambivalent essence terrestrial and underground, terrestrial and heavenly was made by red scarf, a dressing gown and footwear [Fedorova, 1994, page 203]. Tailoring and putting on of clothes of red color on images of spirits promised success in crafts [Novitsky, 1884, page 59]. The peaked cap of red color was considered as attribute of Mir-susne-huma, the son of the Supreme deity of Mansi of Noomi-Torum, the patron of all people, families which was usually presented in the form of the rider. Almost in each family there were covers which are specially sewed from cloth, decorated with applique and edged by fur with its image. Covered with them the sacrificial animal presented to Mir-susne-humu. Such cover usually made of cloth of two flowers, at the same time one — surely red [Baulo, 1997, page 8-9]. Head scarfs and pieces of fabric of red color were brought as the victim (on an equal basis with blood) to fire perceived and as cleaning means, and as vseunichtozhayushchy force [Kulemzin, 1983, page 127-128]. Ob Ugra did a gift Sakha (dressing gown) of red color, burning it on a fire, to spirit of fire which was most often represented in a female appearance — Nye-anki (& Fire мать& — the Khanty.), Nye-ekva, Nye-ne (& Fire женщина& — Mance.), esteemed as the hostess of the house, the patroness of family protecting from evil spirits [Zenko, 1992, page 29-31]. She personifies fire made by the person as opposed to spirit of forest fire, the hostile person — Pai-anki (& Storm огонь& — the Khanty.) and also Ters-nay-anki esteemed by yugansky Khanty (& Sea fire мать&), to a supernatural being who lives in the sea and has the creating force [In the same place, page 29-31]. About a gift of a piece of fabric of red color, traditional for Khanty and forest Nenets of the Agana River, to spirit of fire — Nye-anki, Nye-them (the Khanty.), Tu-pukhsha, Tu-nemee (forest Nenets) were told by the forest Nenets A.T. Ayvaseda (1949, the settlement of Varyegan).

As articles of clothing and fabric of red color were generally a part of a sacrificial butt to spirits of the average world, it allowed to define value of red color as symbol of the average world [Gemuyev, Sagalayev, 1986, page 174]. Often at the Ob ugr such gifts to spirits of the average world became together with the bloody victims [In the same place, page 150-151; Zenko, 1992, page 30; Trunk, 1997, page 12].

The red color embodied by ochre and other dyes (at the Ob ugr it is broth from larch bark, paint from a plant a bedstraw, etc.), in archaic cultures was associated with blood — the vital force, the vital beginning. So, Mansi have a verb to a kellankva & красить& is etymologically close to a word kelup & blood, bright red, алый& [Rombandeeva, Kuzakova, 1982, page 235-236]. Blood in primitive thinking had the magic forces including rejuvenating ozhivotvoryayushchy and cleaning properties. According to it it was used: saw, smeared a body, sprinkled, etc. [Levi-Bryul, 1994, page 522-523]. On field materials of an expedition of 1991, in the middle hkh century lyapinsky Mansi had a tradition to suck blood of just killed deer to which curative qualities were attributed. Besides, in primitive thinking the obmazyvaniye blood or its substitute (paint of red color) of a body or articles of clothing and life gave them the certain properties capable to protect the person and to satisfy his requirements. Z.P. Sokolova [1972, page 59] described a funeral ceremony of Khanty of the Syni and Kunovata Rivers in which first day covered with blood of a sacrificial animal (a deer, a bird) a wall near the dead man, a coffin, a box with the doll representing the dead man, a door of a gravestone lodge.

The symbolics of red color is widespread in funeral ceremonies of primitive cultures. One of the most archaic elements of a funeral ritual of the Ob ugr was cutting of red thread over a body of the dead which was distributed to relatives of the dead [Chernetsov, 1959, page 144; Z.P., 1980, page 128; etc.]. They had to carry this thread (sometimes on it strung one-two beads) on a wrist or an ankle until thread does not fray. Carrying such thread as mourning for the died husband is recorded at lyapinsky Mansi in 1991. According to field researches of 1997, at agansky Khanty thread of white color was used as the sign of mourning for the husband, mother, the father, child.

Use of threads in traditional ceremonialism is known also at other Finno-Ugric people. One string of red color was pulled over a shroud of the dead by mountain Maris; meadow Maris pulled three threads — red, blue, green colors. At Hungarians the red, blue, white threads presented at a wedding by the groom's relatives to the bride, subsequently this woman embroidered to herself funeral clothes of several types differing on color according to age. The first shroud which the bride began to embroider at a wedding was red color, the last was embroidered with strings of white color. Mordvy-Erzyans had a custom suren uskomo (a supply of threads) — donation to future daughter-in-law of three skeins of red, blue, green colors [Kryukova, 1970, page 266]. By means of a red woolen string of the Udmurt female weaved on the head out of hair a grid which, on traditional representations, had to confuse the evil spirits seeking to get into the head of the person. Later a thread just tied around the head [Lebedeva, Atamanov, 1987, page 137]. In these examples the combination of red color, a symbol of vital force, blood, vital/mortal essence, with feminine symbols — the yarn, threads secondary on the origin is traced.

Owned art of spinning and weaving also Ob Ugra. Characteristic feature is the unevenness of its distribution in the territory of accommodation of these people that was noted more than once by researchers and caused emergence of various versions of origin of weaving [U.T., 1906, 1907, page 38; Priests, 1955, page 144; Lukina, 1985, page 152-153; Fedorova, 1994, page 108, 110]. The main areas of distribution of weaving were the Irtysh Rivers, Konda, Salym, Demyanka; as yarn fibers of a nettle, a flax, hemp were used. Knitting, except the specified territories, was known also in areas of residence of Khanty and Mansi on the rivers of Central Ob, Kazym, North Sosva, Lyapin where held a livestock or bought, exchanged yarn at the next people. On materials of an expedition of 1991, lyapinsky Mansi bought yarn from Komi-Zyrians and painted it in red, yellow, green, brown colors. From wool yarn stockings, socks, mittens, belts, opoyask knitted. For knitting usually took yarn of two contrast colors: red and white, white and gray, red and yellow, white and black, etc. The tradition of use in knitting of two contrast colors remained at the Ob ugr so far.

Composite creation of jewelry of clothes on the basis of contrast tsvetosochetaniye was widely used in traditional clothes of Khanty and Mansi. At the same time rather steady combination red, blue (or green) and yellow flowers, especially in clothes from cervine skins attracts attention: to a malitsa, the fur coat, a kumysha, a hood produced from kamus of deer of untovidny footwear who were decorated with cloth edgings and strips of these flowers. Traditional, probably, it is necessary to consider a combination red and blue, red and green. So, if primary color of clothes is red, then jewelry (applique, beads, a mosaic) are made of materials of blue or green colors and vice versa. Such tsvetosochetaniye most often meets in traditional clothes of the Ob ugr, in jewelry of dresses, dressing gowns, shirts, naversh-face downwards, of malichny shirts, mittens and caps from cloth, belts, scarfs, in beaded jewelry [Gondat-ti, 1888, page 14; Schultz, 1924, page 181; Prytkova, 1951, page 173-174, 178-180; Lukina, 1985, page 42-43; Fedorova, 1994, page 119-125]. Similar use of these flowers remains in clothes of the Ob ugr and now. For example, during the ethnographic expedition in 1991 at lyapinsky Mansi were recorded a dress from calico in a blue floret (soup) — with the tunikoobrazny coquette, a stand-up collar, a long sleeve with a cuff and a gusset, with a wide frill on a hem, decorated with applicative strips of red color on perimeter of the coquette, cuffs, over a frill and on edge of a hem. At varyegansky Khanty in 1997 we noted a women's humeral oar clothing (Saky) from cloth of red color with side and humeral seams, with a smell on the left side, with a collar of black color which wide rectangular ends are decorated with the sewed buttons and also with cuffs and a wide border on a hem from cloth of black color. The color combination red and blue (dark blue, black) was given preference at an embroidery in three ways from four. In an embroidery kerem-hanch which is carried out by a string of one color along with red thread of blue color could be used. In an embroidery handa-hanch, the second in complexity after kerem-hanch, the contour of the drawing was carried out by a string of mainly black color.

The color combination red — blue, red — black, red — green was traditional for clothes of the finnoyazychny people of the Volga region [Kryukova, 1968, page 28, 31; G.A., 1975, page 159-209; Lebedeva, Atamanov, 1987, page 112-150; Pro-kina, 1994, page 64-91]. It is noted that black and dark blue were interchangeable, and yellow and green were used as additional, for colorization [Kryukova, 1968, page 28; Pro-kina, 1994, page 69]. This trend is observed also in traditional clothes of the Ob ugr.

Red and blue (green or yellow) tissues of the Khanty and Mansi used a combination when tailoring ceremonial clothes, for example the peaked caps and mittens from cloth decorated with applique put on them on bear holidays and shaman kamlaniye. The peaked cap with a brush sewed from multi-colored strips (wedges) is more often than red and blue colors, was ceremonial attribute, entered a complex of clothes of male spirits. Such cap was considered as obligatory attribute of Mir-susne-huma [Gemuyev, Sagalayev, 1986, page 147].

Sacrifice cases are known to spirits of clothes which could replace the image of spirit [In the same place, page 145]. Donated red, blue, green, white and black clothes. However the clothes of white, red, black colors are probably earlier option of sacrificial clothes. Besides, white and black clothes preference at sacrifices was given to certain spirits. The clothes, fabric of dark (black) color were devoted by Kul-otyru (Mansi), Kyn-iki (& Diseases старик& — the Khanty.) or Pykhte sakyn (& the Black dress старик& — the Khanty.), supervising behind the world of the dead which is associated with the dark beginning and diseases [Kulemzin, 1983, page 127].

Fabric of black color and dark fur used as for tailoring of humeral clothes, hoods, mittens and footwear, and for production of separate details of clothes (collar, cuffs, a border, etc.). Black (dark) color of clothes was sought to be neutralized any jewelry of bright color. Decorated with dark fur clothes from light fur (a goose, kumysh, to a maliyets, a fur coat). Such cervine fur detail of traditional humeral clothes of the Ob ugr, as panda (Mance.) — the strip about 15-20 cm wide sewed on a hem by fur outside — was usually dark color. On a combination of details from dark and light fur the composite solution of humeral clothes, footwear was under construction of kamus and headdresses. Selection and a combination of light and dark skins of birds and small pieces of fur made decoration of traditional fur coats of the Ob ugr. The structure of a fur mosaic, main decoration of clothes from cervine fur, was based on combination of ornamental strips of dark and light tones. Methods of use and neutralization of black fabric and dark fur are known at the Ob ugr and now.

The combination of black and white colors was used also in shaman clothes of the Ob ugr [Ku-lemzin, 1983, page 127]. It was traditional for the clothes sewed from skins of animals and birds. Often it was applied to designation of any significant element of clothes. Now such tsvetooboznachayemy elements are: on a women's fur coat from skins of a deer — a white collar from fur of a sable or a dog; on a hood (a headdress from skins of a deer) — bordering on edge of a front part white fur of a deer or dog; on untovidny footwear from deer kamus — a front middle part; on the park (the deaf clothes from skins of a deer sewed by fur outside and the malitsa who is put on atop) — a covering white fur of a hood.

White color at the Ob ugr was considered as sacred, and the white clothes were of particular importance. On representations of lyapinsky Mansi if in herd the white fawn was born, it foretold good luck to his owner. At the Vasyugan Khanty all animals and birds of white color were considered sacred [In the same place, page 126]. White color was color of Noomi-Torum, the Supreme deity creating entities. To it donated animals, skins, fabric, clothes of white color. Mansi had certain restrictions on clothes of white color which came down to the ban of its use for the image of spirits of the lower world subsequently [Gemuyev, Sagalayev, 1986, page 146].

The traditional clothes (especially dressing gowns) sewed from white fabric or white fur at Khanty and Mansi were also considered as festive and at the same time performed certain functions. The white dressing gowns sheathed at the edges were used on bear holidays for the image of sacred dances of gods [Fedorova, 1994, page 206]. The dressing gown of red-white color was used by the Khanty shaman from the Syni River [Z.P., 1972, page 57]. At the Vasyugan Khanty the legend of eight white shaman dressing gowns is known [Kulemzin, 1976, page 62]. At the beginning of the 20th century the Salym Khanty still had white shirts from a homespun canvas with an embroidery, however they were used already as a shroud [Schultz, 1924, page 179].

The sacral character had white color and at neighbors of the Ob ugr — Nenets, Tatars. So, forest Nenets of the Agana River fabric of white color donated to the Supreme deity Numa. At Nenets the white clothes were considered as the most beautiful and festive. In traditional wedding ceremonialism of the West Siberian Tatars the white cloth on which there had to pass newlyweds was a symbol of the white road, i.e. happy and joyful life [Valeev, 1972, page 109].

At a mordva the white dressing gown with an embroidery was festive (rutsya) for which tailoring used well bleached thin poskonny canvas later replaced with white cotton fabric [Prokina, 1994, page 70]. It is known also that white color at a mordva, especially in HUSh-H1H of centuries, was considered as the sign of mourning and was respectively used in clothes [Kornishina, 1994, page 110-117]. At the Kama and pribelsky Maris the application of a traditional white tunikoob-different shirt as ceremonial is recorded. At Maris caftans from white fabric had festive and ceremonial value, at the same time quite often white color otbortovyvatsya black [G.A., 1975, page 158, 177].

So, white clothes of oar type, in particular dressing gowns, at the Ob ugr, as well as at the finnoyazych-ny people of the Volga region, had ceremonial character and probably was the most ancient. White/grey, black/dark (brown) colors most often acted as primary colors of clothes that, probably, was caused by their natural origin (fur of animals, skins of birds, fish skin, a rovduga, a homespun cloth, etc.). Primary use of red color in relation to blue, green and yellow is caused probably by a variety of natural dyes of this color and also application of skins of animals. So, in some cases in clothes of the Ob ugr fur of a red fox and otter replaced fabric of red color. Besides, red color was allocated with special magic sense what it was told above about.

Change of natural color in the way of coloring was applied practically on all above-mentioned materials to tailoring. Some of these receptions occur and now. The Khanty and Mansi painted clothes entirely (belts, skirts, dressing gowns, shirts, jackets, etc.) or its separate details (cuffs, a collar, gussets, etc.) and also applied paint on clothes in the form of strips and an ornament. In the middle of the 20th century the kondinsky Khanty painted ready-to-wear clothes from a canvas and burlap entirely. Threads for an embroidery and knitting were painted immersing completely in paint. Coloring of woolen threads for knitting remained till today at the lyapinsky and kondin-sky Mansi which are usually applying industrial dyes.

Widespread among the Ob ugr is a coloring of separate parts of clothes. This reception was used for decoration of clothes from skins, skin, a rovduga, fabric. At the same time the separate sewed details on clothes were painted: a collar, cuffs, gussets, inserts on footwear, etc. Paint was applied with strips on edges and the main seams (side, humeral, on a waist,

a back, etc.), than, in our opinion, tried to strengthen clothes seams. Later this way of decoration of clothes became complicated: paint began to be applied on the traced or embroidered ornament contour. On a rovduga and skin the contour was embroidered with a subcervical hair of a deer, cervine veins, threads. For this purpose the hair of a deer (veins, threads) was sheathed by small stitches tendinous thread; the pattern turned out double — from front and inner side. Sheathed a contour and already drawn ornament. It is known also that at many people of Siberia the subcervical hair of a deer was sewed in connecting seams of fur clothes. It had as sacral (protection from evil spirits), and utilitarian (strengthening of seams of clothes) value. Now Ob Ugra, Nenets, Komi-Zyrians for these purposes use narrow strips of multi-colored cloth, generally red color. Possibly, this tradition evolved from coloring of seams of clothes red paint.

Reception of an obshivaniye of an ornament on a contour was used by the Ob ugra and in an embroidery. So, it is known that in embroideries of the Irtysh and kondinsky Khanty — handa-hanch and rut-hanch at first the contour which then was filled with an embroidery with the threads excellent on color was embroidered [U.T., 1907]. Such embroidery decorated shirts, dressing gowns, trousers from krapivny fabric and a canvas. The ornament with the embroidered contours put with paint decorated clothes from skin, rovdug, footwear, dressing gowns. As paint used the ochre which is previously mixed with vegetable oil; juice of red berries, a grass — a club moss and a bedstraw; birch mushroom, bark of an alder, oak, larch, birch. Production of paint from bark of a tree is widespread throughout accommodation of the Ob ugr. This way is known and now. Berezovsky of Mansi make paint as follows: the bark which is filled in with water is cooked on slow fire by about 2-3 h then the same time is defended, and then within several days evaporate water before obtaining mass of dense consistence. Paint is applied on clothes with the pointed stick which is specially cut out from a tree. Kondinsky Mansi in the middle of the 20th century painted skin in brown color by its boiling in broth from oak bark. According to informants, the paint received from bark very strong, does not fade. It can have color from brown to bright red. Blue, violet paint was received from juice of berries. It is known that in the middle of the 20th century the kondinsky Mansi painted clothes in blue color, treading it in clay on the river bank. The Irtysh Khanty received paint of yellow and flavovirent colors from a club moss. Special black and white dyes for clothes at the Ob ugr are not recorded.

Some colors at the Ob ugr are designated by the terms corresponding to a way of receiving paint. So, at yugansky Khanty red-orange color is called kornenk kurasyp (similar to broth of larch bark), orange-brown — sing - carat (similar to broth of aspen bark) [Kulemzin, 1983, page 124]. At northern Khanty the alder carries the name нэрп&юх, i.e. the painting tree.

Coloring of clothes practices the Ob ugra and now. The painted material is generally leather, wool and a rovduga. The ornament with the sheathed contour put with paint remains on rovduzhny footwear. Coloring is applied at decoration of house utensils: the birch bark boxes, female handbags for needlework sewed from cervine skins.

In general the color naming in traditional clothes of the Ob ugr comes down to three primary colors: white, red and black (dark blue) that is caused both by variety of natural origin, and simplicity of technological use of the corresponding dyes. The primacy of origin of these flowers and addition subsequently yellow, blue, green limited the sphere of their application and defined their symbolics: white — a symbol of the top world, black — the lower world, red — the average world.


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Tyumen, Institute of problems of development

North of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Science

Bruce White
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