The fabric of Old Belief : staroobriadtsy - traditions of clothmaking, dress, and ritual from the 17th to the 20th century
Citation:Constance Dowling, 'The fabric of Old Belief : staroobriadtsy - traditions of clothmaking, dress, and ritual from the 17th to the 20th century', [thesis], Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland). Department of Russian & Slavonic Studies, 2000, pp 367, pp 61, pp 5
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The theme of this dissertation is the relationship of textiles to Old Belief, a religious minority formed after the raskol or schism in the Russian Orthodox church in 1666/1667. Within this theme I also investigate the structure of Old Believer society and the relationship of religious discipline to the material and symbolic expressions of Old Belief. Using the example of a textile factory still in existence in Moscow as illustration, I explore the progress typical of numerous eighteenth and nineteenth-century Old Believers from weaver to wealthy textile manufacturer. Although it may seem contradictory, in order to identify the reasons for this entrepreneurial success, much of my research was conducted in Old Believer villages in the Altai Mountains of southwestern Siberia in 1996, 1997, and 1999. In these isolated communities, Old Believer society changed at a much slower pace than in urban centres, allowing the researcher a view of Old Believer lifestyle and attitudes maintained in the past. In the six chapters which follow the Introduction, I examine aspects of Russian and Old Believer history as well as ethnographic sources related to Old Belief which shed light on the role of cloth and clothing in Old Believer culture. These chapters aim to: identify the roots of Old Believer attachment to Russian tradition within the conflict which produced the raskol and identify the early adherents of Old Belief. -- survey suggest the crown weaving communities in Russia at the time of the raskol and parallels with Old Believer textile enterprise. -- outline the establishment of sanctuaries of Old Belief where religion and commerce intertwined and where an emphasis on the preservation of traditional crafts encouraged Old Believers to maintain the visual symbols, including ritual textiles, of their religious identity. -- trace the route of Old Believers from these refuges to Siberia and analyse the character of their society in the Altai Mountains, founded at the same time as their co-religionists were establishing textile enterprises in European Russia. -- examine the clothmaking skills maintained in these communities. -- confirm the significance of cloth and clothing as an essential ritual and symbolic element of Old Belief. I conclude that apart from the orderly structure of Old Believer society, attention to traditional crafting skills such as spinning, weaving, and embroidery contributed to Old Believer entrepreneurial success in the textile industry. Their religious belief dictated that Old Believers maintain a lifestyle based on the sanctity of Russian tradition. As a result, in Old Believer communities, where visual symbols were an expression of religious correctness, families maintained and passed on to the next generation an expertise in textile crafts which allowed them to create ritual cloth and clothing. A view of the lifestyle of Old Believers in the Altai, unaffected by urban influence until the early twentieth century, sheds light on the relationship their co-religionists in European Russia had also once had to cloth and clothmaking.
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Author: Dowling, Constance
Qualification name:Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Publisher:Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland). Department of Russian & Slavonic Studies
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Type of material:thesis
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