The obruch, i.e. the hoop, one of the simplest folk headgears, was made of wooden bark or cardboard as a circle, cased in cloth and decorated with beads, flowers, feathers or pearls.
The perevyazka, i.e. the bandage, was made of a stripe of cloth, or brocade or gold embroidery, and so forth, its ends tied together, sometimes in a bow, or else, of a kerchief folded and tied around the head, with the end falling down behind.
The venok, i.e. the wreath was a type of obruch. The hoop was adorned with flowers, whether natural (in Southern Slavic provinces) or artificial, and looked like a wreath, wearing which was an old all-Slavic tradition. The main types of women’s headwear were the bandage-like, the kichka-like and the kokoshnik. Kichka-type headgears were made compound, as a rule.
This peculiar Russian headgear imitated cow’s horns, thus, symbolizing the woman’s fertility. The horned kichka was worn by young married women and changed it into the hornless kichka when grown old. It was mainly used in the Southern provinces (Tula, Ryazan, Kaluga, Oryol, etc.) of Russia. The kichka covered the hair and had a firm part in front above the face, with a piece of bark or a plank inserted, forming horns, a blade, or a hoof, and the like. The kichka was put on the head, the hair thoroughly covered with cloth, and then the cloth was fixed on the head by way of rounding the hoofs several times with a lace. At the back of the kichka they used to put on a beaded right-angled stripe of velvet, fastened on cardboard for firmness. Over the kichka the trim soroka of embroidered cloth was placed.
The first written record of kichka refers to 1328. In the early 20th century this complex headgear was almost everywhere replaced by the povoinik, or the kerchief. In the Voronezh Region, however, the kichka remained as a wedding garment till the 1950s.
For a long time the Slavic married women kept on the custom of tying the kerchief in such a way as to make its ends stand on the forehead like tiny horns. They evidently imitated cow’s horns and symbolized the reproducing period in a woman’s life.
Soroka was the name of the trimmed outer part of kichka-type headwear, its shape usually connected with the shape of a kichka. The soroka was made of fabric and, being stretched over the kichka, sometimes might hide its horns. Any peasant woman could sew it.
Pozatylnik was a necessary element of every kichka-type headgear and was made of beads or fabric (often of brocade) and fastened behind under the soroka in order to cover the hair at the back of the kichka.
The kokoshnik is a folk headgear widely known thanks to Russian folk tales. The history of kokoshnik is full of enigmas and mysteries, and nobody knows when exactly it came to existence.
It is only known that orders of Peter the First put an interdict on wearing kokoshnik by boyar ladies. Yet, the headgear survived in peasant and merchant milieu (mainly in the Northern provinces) as an attribute of festive or wedding dress, whereas in the late 18th century Catherine the Great allowed it only as an element of a carnival dress.
Unlike the everyday headwear such as soroka or kerchief, it was at first exclusively festive and was richly decorated with pearls, especially in the North. Only married women used to wear kichka and soroka, whereas kokoshnik was worn by unmarried maids as well.
Kokoshnik looks like a roundish shield around the head. The name “kokoshnik” comes from the Old Slavic “kokosh” that meant a hen or a cock. The characteristic feature of the kokoshnik is a sort of a crest rising above the forehead. Its shape varied from province to province. It was a light fan of thick solid paper stitched to a cap or volosnik (i.e. cover for hair), with a ribbon running down behind. The kokoshniks were trimmed with brocade, galoons, beads, pearls and, the richest ones, with gems.
Povoinik was an old traditional headdress of married women, mainly peasant; it was usually a kerchief, or a towel tied around another headwear. Sometimes the povoinik was a soft textile cap, varied in shape, but mainly with a round or oval bottom, a cap band and laces behind. As a rule the povoinik was worn on working days, whereas on holidays it was replaced by the kokoshnik. By the early 20th century the povoinik supplanted the more complex women’s headgears, such as the soroka and kichka.