Anatomy

The garb of Cos­sack cav­alry of­fi­cer

All About History - - CONTENTS -

WHO Were the Cos­sacks?

The Cos­sacks mainly con­sisted of peo­ple from Ukraine and south­ern Rus­sia. Known for their mil­i­tary skill, in par­tic­u­lar their horse­man­ship, they were hired by the Tsars as sol­diers for mil­i­tary cam­paigns. The Don Cos­sacks named af­ter the Don river where they set­tled be­tween the 16th and 17th cen­turies, were one of the ear­li­est sub­groups, or hosts, to en­ter the ser­vice of the Romanov dy­nasty,

unique uni­form

Cos­sacks pro­vided their own cloth­ing, weapons and horses and for this rea­son, their cloth­ing could vary. Their uni­form also dif­fered depend­ing on whether it was for do­mes­tic or reg­i­men­tal use. This par­tic­u­lar out­fit was de­fined by the new leg­is­la­tion is­sued in 1801, to re­place the uni­forms worn dur­ing the reign of Cather­ine the Great.

match­ing trousers

Cos­sacks had to wear dark blue trousers, known as sharovary pants, with a stripe down the side to match their chek­men. The trousers could be worn ei­ther tucked in or out of their boots and although red was com­monly used for the stripe, reg­i­men­tal colours could also be used.

ICONIC Head­gear

Cos­sacks wore a tall hat made from as­trakhan fur, known as a pa­pakha. The hat had a red cloth top and for of­fi­cers, it would also be dec­o­rated with a plume of white feathers. Aside from this hat, Cos­sacks could also wear a blue cloth cap with red trim­ming.

Armed to the teeth

Cos­sacks were typ­i­cally armed with two pis­tols, a dag­ger, a whip with a lead ball and a sword. At this point, there were no reg­u­la­tions re­gard­ing the weapons Cos­sacks had to use and as a re­sult, they could be equipped with a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent sidearms.

equipped AND ready

The new uni­form reg­u­la­tions stip­u­lated that all sword belts, shoul­der belts and pouches had to be made from black leather, re­gard­less of reg­i­ment. Cos­sacks would of­ten carry car­tridges in their pouches and other Cos­sack hosts, such as Kuban and Terek, sewed on or­na­men­tal car­tridge hold­ers.

Look­ing smart

Cos­sacks wore a long coat, known as a chek­men, which was made from dark blue cloth. It was usu­ally worn from Septem­ber to May, and for the rest of the year, they wore a short jacket called a kurtka. The chek­men had red pip­ing along the col­lar and the cuffs, but this could be changed to the reg­i­ment colours by the ata­man, the Cos­sack leader.

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