Ülevaade Eesti etnograafilistest lõõtsaga tubakakottidest / Bellows-type tobacco pouches from the perspective of native crafts


  • Triin Hellat




Among the collections of ethnographic artefacts in Estonian museums, there can be found several tobacco pouches, made from textile as well as leather. While tobacco pouches can vary greatly depending on the cutting method, sewing technique, and decoration, it is the technique and design of the bellowstype pouches which make them the most fascinating kind. These pouches gain their name from the inset that has been folded together like a pair of bellows; this inset allows one to open the pouch more conveniently when stuffing the pipe. Such pouches typically consist of three pieces. The front and back sides (‘cheeks’) are usually fastened together, and the pieces with a curved shape (whether of the same leather or of a different kind) are sewn on to the two sides between the cheeks, and folded to make a bellows. It is running or overcast stitch using linen thread that have chiefly been used. Machine-sewn pouches also exist. Leather patches, which are round, or which may resemble a rhombus or a heart, etc. in shape, are referred to as ‘ears’ when attached to the front and back of the pouch. They may be of the same leather as the cheeks or can be extras sewn onto the sides. Among the decorations that have been used we can find debossed ornamentation, copper rings, appliqué, and cut-out. The combination of the main material with seal fur and with fabrics or leather of a contrasting colour has also been used. Pouches that are lavish and require a technically more elaborate method of preparation are often embellished with bead embroidery.
A floral ornament similar to that which appears on the beaded belts fashionable in the same period was usually used. Tobacco pouches were made at home for personal use, or could be ordered from craftsmen, and could be purchased at fairs and from pedlars. In addition to the collections explored in this article, leather tobacco pouches can be found in several museums across Estonia, and these pouches too warrant closer examination in the future.
Keywords: ethnographic leather bags, tobacco pouch, bellows-type tobacco pouch, purse, leather, bead embroidery


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