Yakut tangalai clothing: cut, trimming, and technologies

Petrova S.I., Prokopeva A.N.





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Costume of the 17th18th cc. is a little-studied subject in the history of the Yakut costume. This is due to the fact that costume of this period can be studied only on the materials of the funerary monuments of Yakutia (Eastern Siberia). There are scanty written and pictorial sources of this period, and they do not provide detailed information about the material and technique of making clothes. One of the outstanding examples of the clothing of that time is tangalai - ritual women's clothing with short sleeves embroidered with beads and metal plaques, which in the literature is called fur coat or caftan. Due to its beauty and ritual purpose, tangalai represents a most interesting and controversial element of the wardrobe. Such waistcoats were widespread among Turkic-Mongolian peoples of Eurasia and are often associated with the wedding ceremonial and status of married women. The aim of the work is to identify specifics of the make, cut, and decor of tangalai. For this purpose, four samples of clothing identified as tangalais were selected from museum collections. All samples were found in female burials of Central and Northern Yakutia and consist of fragments of the base and decorative trim in different states of preservation. A comparative analysis showed that according to the material, cut, and principle of manufacture all samples represent variations of the same type of clothing. Suede made of deer or elk skin, smoked and painted, was used as the basic material. The skin was supplemented with an edging made of expensive and rare furs, which at that time included beaver fur. Beads of predominantly blue color were used in all the samples, supplemented with white and black beads, metal stripes and pendants. Beaded embroidery emphasized certain parts of clothing: shoulders, chest, and back. Accentuation of similar zones preserved in elegant women's fur coats until the beginning of the 20th century. The manufacture of such clothing implied a complex and lengthy technological process from the processing of raw materials to the connection of all the numerous elements. The high quality of the processing of leather and fur and complex beaded decor indicate the presence of professional seamstresses and a more complex organization of the Yakut society of those times. Needle beds, scissors, and workpieces of fur and beads in very rich women's burials, as well as the folklore motifs on this subject may indicate the significance of the sewing workmanship.

Keywords: Yakutia, archaeology, shoulder clothing, ritual clothing, production technology, needlework, funerary monuments.


Funding. The research were carried out using the scientific equipment of the shared core facilities of the Federal Research Center Yakutsk Science Center SB RAS grant No.13..21.0016.


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Accepted: 05.12.2022

Article is published: 15.03.2023


Petrova S.I., North-Eastern Federal University, Belinskogo st., 58, Yakutsk, 677000, Russian Federation? E-mail: petrovasi1954@mail.ru, https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8588-8330


Prokopeva A.N., Institute for Humanitarian Research and North Indigenous People Problems of Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IHRNIPP SB RAS), Petrovskogo st., 1, Yakutsk, 677027, Russian Federation, E-mail: sendiele@gmail.com, https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8329-159X