Trükimustrilised pearätikud Kihnu kultuuriruumis / Printed Pattern Headscarves in the Cultural Space of the Island of Kihnu

Mari Pukk

Abstract


This article provides an overview of the unique tradition of the islanders of Kihnu of wearing headscarves. I discuss the importance of cotton print headscarves in the traditional clothing of Kihnu women and explain the meaning of kallisseltsi headscarves as an intra-community phenomenon, giving an overview of the origin and characteristics thereof.
Cotton print headscarves are considered an integral part of Kihnu traditional clothing, but as purchased goods they have, up to the present, remained beyond the scope of ethnographic studies. Headscarves are classified by material, origin and purpose. Even today seven different types of headscarves are known: names were assigned to the different types based on their patterns. Headscarves must always be worn in harmony with the main item of clothing: the skirt. The colours and stripes of the skirt convey the events that take place in the course of a woman’s life. Adherence to the rules is supervised by the elders of the community and the more knowledgeable members who look after the preservation of the island’s traditions. As in the case of wearing, there are specific unwritten rules concerning the care, storage and folding of headscarves.
In the Kihnu community the most valuable cotton headscarves are those made of red printed calico that were produced in the late 19th century and the early 20th century in Russia, in the Province of Vladimir in Aleksandrov County. Elsewhere in the world, the headscarves are also known by their main colour – Turkish red. The owning of kallisseltsi headscarves is in a way a status symbol in the Kihnu community: the owner of the largest number of headscarves is considered the proudest and richest. The circulation of headscarves is very carefully monitored and the most valuable ones are only worn during important life events.

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ISSN (print) 1736-8138. SV is a publication of the Department on Estonian Native Crafts, University of Tartu's Viljandi Culture Academy.