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“Embroidered” the national character

Russian embroidery culture, like traditional Chinese embroidery, has a long history. Embroidery elements often appear on various objects in daily life in Russia. They are part of folk culture and reflect the unique spiritual outlook of this nation. Russia’s traditional embroidery culture has a long history, and relatively mature embroidery techniques have appeared as early as the Kievan Rus period. In ancient Rus from the 8th to 9th centuries, people’s belief in and worship of polytheism gave birth to embroidery crafts and promoted its development. In 988, after the “Ross was baptized”, the introduction of Christianity gave new impetus to the development of traditional Russian embroidery culture. Around the 10th century, embroidery culture was once again innovated in Rose, and the famous “gold and silver thread embroidery” appeared. From the 14th to the 17th centuries, embroidery appeared more and more on different occasions, especially in the solemn and solemn places of religious worship. In the 18th century, embroidery technology entered the lives of all classes of society. In contemporary Russian culture, the art of embroidery is still full of vigor and vitality.

Characteristics of Russian Traditional Embroidery Culture
Russian traditional embroidery culture has left many exquisite works in the process of historical development. Most of the preserved products are made of cotton and linen products. Materials such as leather and woolen cloth are also often used. In addition, there are more expensive items such as velvet and silk. The materials are decorated with gems and pearls. Gold and silver silk is one of the most luxurious materials in traditional embroidery works, mainly appearing in the gorgeous costumes of nobles and religious sacrificial articles.

Distinct regionality

Russian traditional embroidery culture has obvious differences in different regions. Among them, the difference between the north and the south is the most obvious, and the central region combines the characteristics of the north and the south, presenting a comprehensive feature. To put it simply, the difference between Russian traditional embroidery art in the north and south is mainly that the northern embroidery art is known for its rich stitches, while the southern embroidery art is known for its colorful colors.

The more notable feature of the traditional embroidery art of northern Russia (represented by the Karelia, Arkhangelsk and Leningrad regions) is that they are good at using flat embroidery and often use diagonal stitches; they prefer to use them in the embroidery process. The thicker embroidery thread first outlines the outline of the pattern, and the fine stitches become the first choice when crocheting. After hooking the edges, use thinner embroidery thread when filling, so that the blank areas can be fully and completely covered. Northern embroidery favors red, and the large-scale use of red makes the pattern contain festive and peaceful connotations. In addition, pure white embroidery is also a major feature of northern embroidery, that is, white embroidery threads are used to embroider patterns of various shapes along the lines on the pure white base fabric. No matter where the embroideries are embroidered, they are delicate and holy. The embroidery works of amulets in the northern embroidery adopt the cross-stitch method and choose the images of animals and plants in nature as the main pattern, which is praised as “a hymn to the nature of the hometown”.

The traditional embroidery art of southern Russia is not as complicated as in the north, but the colors are very gorgeous, and different regions have their own unique colors. The colorful thread knitting embroidery is one of its masterpieces. It uses multiple embroidery threads of different colors at the same time to embroider in parallel or crosswise, with extremely high technical content. In addition, the “Statistical Embroidery Method” is more unique. The pattern composed of several short and parallel line segments looks neat and beautiful, and is pleasing to the eye, which is loved by the people in the south.

The embroidery art of central Russia often combines the characteristics of the north and south. For example, some regions in the central region have formed representative colors with regional characteristics: the Ryazan region prefers blue, the Smolensk region often uses light yellow, orange, and red, and the Tula region is dominated by red, with blue, yellow, and green mixed on it. And so on all kinds of embroidery thread. In addition to the bold use of colors, you can also see the changeable stitches similar to those in northern embroidery.

Obviously hierarchical

Since the reform of Peter I, Russian society has clearly differentiated into two major classes, the aristocratic class and the civilian class. Under such a social background, the embroidery cultures of different social classes also have obvious differences. According to this, they are mainly divided into urban embroidery culture and rural embroidery culture.

Urban embroidery works are either created by aristocratic ladies as an entertainment activity, or specially made by famous embroidery masters for the needs of the aristocrats. Russian urban embroidery art widely absorbs the styles of different countries and is deeply influenced by Western European countries such as France and Britain; especially in the middle and late 18th century, a strong “Chinese style” was blown by the Russian aristocracy. At this time, the Russian urban embroidery art also It has absorbed some of the characteristics of Chinese embroidery, showing a strong oriental flavor. In this way, the national characteristics in the embroidery works of Russian cities have been weakened.

Embroidery works in Russian villages are mostly done by village women, and the materials are relatively simple, and cotton and linen cloth are the most common. From the workmanship of the country embroidery works, you can see the superb embroidery technique of the embroiderer, which is not inferior even to the city embroidery masters.

The superb embroidery skills of rural women benefited from learning embroidery from a very young age and constantly improving their craftsmanship. According to records, the girls in the village began to learn the skills of weaving and embroidery at the age of 5 in order to prepare enough dowry for themselves. What stimulates women to continuously improve their embroidery skills is also the customs of the village: when a woman gets married, she not only shows her embroidery to the whole village, she also takes out a set of most proud embroidery to the future mother-in-law’s home. Both the villagers and the mother-in-law must judge whether the daughter-in-law is dexterous according to the embroideries on display. It can be seen that embroidery skills have become the face of girls in the countryside. During the learning process, they will not only communicate with each other, but also ask their elders for advice. The embroidery art of Russian villages shows the skills accumulated by folk skilled craftsmen from generation to generation, and retains the distinctive national characteristics to the utmost extent.

Amulet function

Amulet embroidery is the most special kind of embroidery in the Russian national embroidery art, which can best distinguish the traditional Russian embroidery art from the embroidery art of other countries. Amulet embroidery, as the name suggests, is a type of embroidery that the Russian people believe can play a blessing role, and its patterns are usually full of people’s good expectations for life. The functional characteristics of Russian amulet embroidery culture are mainly manifested in two aspects: rich connotation patterns and traditional colors.

①The pattern is rich in connotation

Amulet embroidery can be summarized into four main categories in the pattern: geometric patterns, plant patterns, animal patterns and character patterns.

Geometric figures appeared the earliest, basically at the same time as Russian embroidery culture. There are two views on the origin of geometric patterns: one view is that geometric patterns and some simple plant patterns are derived from the national woodcarving art, because some researchers have found that many geometric patterns in amulet embroidery are similar to woodcarving patterns. The same religious meaning. The second view is that the early geometric patterns were related to the Scandinavian culture. When the early Slavic peoples had commercial contacts or wars with the Nordic peoples, Nordic culture had an influence on the patterns of amulet embroidery.

Among the basic geometric patterns, rhombuses appear very frequently, and they are an essential element in Russian women’s clothing. The rhombus is regarded as a symbol of the origin of female life in Russian folks, representing mothers, and can bless women’s health and nurture more children. From the Sarafon worn by ordinary people to the dress of Ekaterina II, which is used as a treasure in the Kremlin’s collection, the Tolnok gold thread embroidered robe, all are decorated with diamond patterns. Circles or loops are also geometric patterns that appear at high frequencies. The reason why these two graphics are popular among Russian folk is that they represent the sun. Because of its special geographical location, Russia has a very long winter every year, so the people’s yearning for the sun and warmth is very strong; coupled with the influence of polytheism, the Russian people generally have a primitive worship of the sun, and the sun means vigorous vitality in its culture. , A bright future and a happy life are the source of all happiness. The “cross” and “wan” patterns are also related to the Russian folk worship of the sun. These patterns represent the warm light emitted by the sun; but in modern times, the German Nazi organization chose to use the “wan” as a symbol during the “World War II”. , Russian folks gradually gave up using this pattern as amulets.

Plant styling patterns followed geometric patterns in Russian traditional embroidery culture, and became more and more popular among folks during the development of amulet embroidery culture. Various patterns of tree leaves, flowers and vines show the attitude of the Russian people to love and respect nature. Among them, the plum blossom is a classic flower shape, and the oak and fir tree shapes are also particularly popular. Plum blossoms in the embroidery of amulets usually appear in six-petal or eight-petal shapes. They have two meanings: one is to replace a simple cross shape, which symbolizes warm sunlight; the other is to replace a diamond pattern, which symbolizes the source of female power, bless you The family has many children and grandchildren. Tree modeling has always been a constant theme in the amulet embroidery culture. As a whole, it symbolizes life and the entire world, and at the same time represents human wisdom and all knowledge. In the Russian people’s worldview, the roots of the trees buried in the ground represent the mysterious and unpredictable world that people live in after death; the trunks represent the world for generations and symbolize the living environment of people; the crown of the tree represents the world where God and God live. Symbolic. In this way, the tree pattern represents the world in three different dimensions at the same time, can bless people in different dimensions, and embody the unique world outlook and religious outlook of the Russian folks. In addition to tree patterns in the overall sense, different types of tree shapes have specific connotations: for example, oak trees are a kind of magical tree for the Slavic peoples and many other European peoples. It can bless people’s health and strength. It is a symbol of the Russian folks. The source of masculine power; like a fir tree means a new beginning, it can bless the day and things go well.

The production of animal patterns was relatively late, and their production and development have a lot to do with the myths and legends circulating in Russian folk. Deer, birds, and horses are the most common animal images. However, the image of the bear that often appears in myths is evasive in the embroidery patterns of amulet, because the bear is their common ancestor in the eyes of the Slav people, and it is disrespectful to use its image. The image of deer has a beautiful meaning, symbolizing a happy marriage and a prosperous life; birds are believed to have the ability to awaken nature and summon powerful natural forces, and their image is often used to bless a year of hard farming to have a good harvest; The image of the horse is magical in the eyes of the Russian people. It symbolizes the sky and the sun and can bless the weather. Its image often appears with the image of the knight in the amulet embroidery culture and is believed to bring courage and good luck.

Female images are the majority in the character image patterns. The female image in the amulet embroidery culture has the meaning of blessing the family with many children and human beings to continue to multiply and thrive, and later extended to protect the family’s harvest of crops and the prosperous livestock. At the same time, it also represents hope and implies the arrival of spring. The female figure in the pattern often raises her hands to point to the sky. This shape is full of religious and philosophical colors, and represents the harmony and unity of the source of female life and the source of male life. In addition, feminine patterns can also be combined with bird patterns to enhance the amulet’s exorcism effect.

②The use of traditional colors

Embroidery works of amulets usually have a strong color contrast. The pure white base cloth with a dazzling red pattern is the most classic design. In the eyes of the Russian people, red is the color of the sun, which contains the power of the sun and can drive away bad luck in life; white is the color of purity, hope and forgiveness. Although it usually appears as the base color of embroidery works, it has a unique meaning , Is a key element in the culture of amulet embroidery and cannot be replaced at will. Other colors such as blue, yellow, and green are taken from the natural world, and the purpose is to fully absorb the power of nature to achieve a better shelter effect. In pursuing luxury noble items and religiously significant sacrificial items, gold is often used instead of red-gold is also the color of sunlight, and highlights the texture, bringing out the luxury of nobles and the sacredness and majesty of religious activities.

The amulet embroidery culture came into being very early, and it adds the most important and most nationally functional features to the traditional Russian embroidery culture. Its patterns reflect the primitive sun worship, light worship and other polytheistic beliefs of the Russian folk. The range of materials used is from the natural world. It is very extensive to folklore and even other national cultures. In actual use, embroidery works of amulets are mainly used to decorate national costumes, often appearing in the openings of clothing, such as collars, cuffs, plackets and hem.

The Russian national character contained in embroidery
Through the above summary and summary of the cultural characteristics of traditional Russian embroidery, the worldview and values ​​of the Russian nation concentrated in it are gradually revealed, which not only reflects the Russian nation’s continuous pursuit of truth, goodness and beauty since ancient times, but also interprets the Russian nation from different perspectives. The outstanding character traits gradually formed in the long historical development process—religious, mysterious, and divisive.

Religious

Religiousness is the most core feature of the Russian national character, which is reflected in all aspects of national life. Berdyaev, a famous Russian thinker in the 20th century, made a detailed analysis of the Russian national character. In his view, there are two important basic components in the soul of the Russian nation, namely, the in-depth folk polytheistic way of thinking and the practice based on Eastern Orthodox and Christianity.

The polytheistic notion that “everything is anim” is the foundation of the traditional way of thinking of the Russian nation that has continued from ancient times to the present. Such a unique worldview makes the Russian people turn the flowers, birds, fish and insects around them into different patterns and embroider them on various daily necessities, and endow these patterns with connotations that go beyond simple decorations. For example, the image of birds becomes the caller of life force and flowers. The pattern is a symbol of sunshine and warmth… Through the transliteration of natural things, it expresses the emotional attitude of religious piety, firmness, and dependence.

After the interpretation of traditional embroidery culture, the religious characteristics of the Russian national character also hide romantic colors. The folks look at all the seemingly ordinary things around with awe, and ordinary things become sacred and abstract; everything in the world has its own emotions and can distinguish right from wrong; believe that people who are kind and pious in heart can get help and realize their wishes… …The pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty and optimism about life make the Russian nation’s religious character less rigid and more romantic.

The religiousness of the ethnicity is also revealed through many unwritten “rules” in the traditional embroidery culture. For example, the above-mentioned amulet embroidery avoids the shape of the bear; the embroidered patterns in the clothing are jointly chosen to be placed in the openings such as the placket; the diamond pattern has become an essential element of women’s clothing; in addition, there are repeated patterns that can strengthen the pattern. Blessing function and so on. Any detail of traditional embroidery culture can read the imprint of religion in the blood of the Russian nation.

Another major element that constitutes the soul of the Russian nation is the Orthodox Church from the Byzantine Empire, which is also integrated into the traditional Russian embroidery culture to a large extent. In traditional embroidery art, gold and silver thread embroidery is like a pearl in the crown, and is known for its fine craftsmanship, complex patterns and expensive materials. The most important and direct reason for the emergence of this kind of embroidery art is to meet the needs of the Orthodox Church to hold grand religious ceremonies. Later, the technology became more and more popular, and gold and silver thread embroidery was gradually used in Russian royal and aristocratic costumes. In addition, in traditional Russian embroidery works, patterns with strong Orthodox colors such as double-headed eagles, churches, and some sacrificial objects used in sacrificial offerings often appear; works with embroidered content involving portraits of Jesus or biblical stories are extremely exquisite in workmanship, even if the works It is a long time ago and is still very well preserved. The characteristics and details of these traditional embroidery cultures show the respect and piety of the Russian people towards the Orthodox Church. The Eastern Orthodox culture is the sustenance of the spiritual life of the Russian nation. At the same time, it continuously encourages the Russian nation to continuously improve its embroidery skills and promote the development of embroidery culture.

Mystery

The mysterious and religious features of the Russian national character are complementary to each other. “Compared with Catholicism, the Orthodox Church also has the characteristics of mystery in addition to preserving the original doctrines of Christianity. It also emphasizes the compatibility between the world of God and the world of man. Mysticism emphasizes the’revelation that prevails in primitive religions. Acknowledge that there is a secret connection between man and God”. The Russians believe that they can directly communicate with the gods in certain ways. Those elusive “oracles” can be directly perceived by the Russians through things around them; through direct communication with the gods, the soul can be obtained. Salvation.

The traditional Russian embroidery art is the best interpretation of the “revelation” in the theory of mysticism. The rich meaning behind the embroidery pattern of amulet in traditional embroidery is that the Russian people use a unique symbol to communicate and exchange with the gods they believe in. Take the simplest diamond pattern and the “cross” pattern for example. The rhombus represents women and bless women’s well-being and well-being, and the “cross” pattern represents sunshine and blessing the breeze and the prosperity of the family. The Russian people believe that the world in which people live is connected to the world of gods. The gods they believe in can understand the state of the human world through these simplest symbols and patterns, and feel the prayers and desires behind these patterns; with the help of gods Next, the hidden desire in the pattern will become a reality.

Divisive

Traditional Russian national embroidery works have different feelings from the overall appreciation and the observation in the details. On the whole, the works are rigorous in composition, harmonious in layout, and regular in color matching, presenting a serious and rigorous style, full of classicism and majesty. In addition, in the use of specific patterns and the overall pattern placement rules, different patterns are relatively suitable for occasions, the patterns are arranged neatly and regularly, and the specific positions in the clothing also follow the corresponding rules, showing that they are in folk culture. , Religion, etc. influence the next neat and exquisite style. And to savor the details of the work, it reveals a kind of roughness and unobtrusive straightforwardness without modification. This is mainly because the traditional Russian embroidery art is accustomed to outline the pattern with thicker embroidery thread first, and then fill in the blank part of the pattern; and there is no special requirement for the fineness of the stitches during the embroidery process, which is uneven. The stitches show the rugged, unrestrained, and informal character of the Russian nation, which is an externalization of its “absolute support for spiritual freedom”. The embroidery art works of our country pay attention to fine stitches and smooth silk threads. Generally, they mostly pursue softness, gentleness, and full of artistic conception. Therefore, the works from the stitches in the details to the overall style give people the same feeling, everywhere. Reveal the Chinese people’s gentle, delicate, and reserved personality characteristics. In contrast, Russia’s traditional national embroidery art seems to be made by two craftsmen with different tempers in whole and in part. The bold stitches are in sharp contrast with the neat overall structure. Of course, the roughness in the details of the work does not damage the overall look and feel, but adds a simple and natural charm.

This kind of mashup with great contrast and disparity in style is even more an external manifestation of the divisive characteristics contained in the Russian national character.

The concept of division is of profound significance to the Russian nation and is an important element of the Russian national character. In the work “Crime and Punishment” by the Russian psychographic master Dostoevsky, the protagonist’s name is used as a hint to show the author’s thinking about the “splitting” element in national psychology. In the history of Russia, as early as the Nikon Reformation, the schizophrenia of the national character during the quarrel between the old and the new sects has been fully revealed. Among them, the instability is the inevitable result of the split state. Berdyaev once stated on the nationality of Russia: “Russia has a tendency to swing from one extreme to the other… This is a peculiar kind of “intolerance.” This tendency to “swing” It is one of the manifestations of instability in the Russian national character. The instability of character makes the Russian nation lack continuity in its behavior, which is elusive and incomprehensible. In this regard, the Russian poet Chutchev expressed his feelings with a poem “I can’t understand Russia with reason”. In addition to instability, contradiction is another manifestation of the tendency to split the character-the integration of elements that tend to two extremes in a subject will inevitably make it full of contradictions. Under the influence of this personality trait, the spiritual world of the Russian nation and its behavior in actual life are often full of contradictions. When studying the development of Russian national society, Berdyaev asked the question: “Why does a nation with the least concept of state build such a large and powerful state apparatus? Why does a nation with the most anarchism obey the bureaucracy so much? Rule? Why doesn’t a nation with spiritual freedom pray for a free life?”

Scholars continue to explore the divisive characteristics of the Russian national character. The Russian historian Klyuchevsky believes that this character is derived from Russia’s more extreme natural environmental conditions. From the end of the 12th century to the beginning of the 13th century, the Russian nation began to immigrate to the upper Volga region. Due to the restrictions of natural conditions and traffic conditions, the originally developed industry and commerce declined and turned to agriculture. In Russia, the warm summers are very short, and the winters are severely cold and long. “The Russians have therefore developed the habit of concentrating their strength beyond the ordinary in a short period of time, and are accustomed to working quickly, desperately, and swiftly,” in order to obtain food that can sustain their livelihoods. This kind of farming system and daily routines have been internalized into the Russian national character, forming an unstable and divisive character. Klyuchevsky summed up the Russian nation under the influence of the natural environment: “In Europe, no nation works as intensely as the Russians in a short period of time; there seems to be no place like Russia. So I am not accustomed to steady, moderate, and rhythmic labor.” The split in character has become a label and a representative feature that distinguishes the Russian nation from other European nations.

The sometimes wild and sometimes restrained styles in Russian national embroidery work reflect the Russian national psychology accustomed to either black or white, and tends to be extreme in handling problems. Traditional ethnic embroidery works integrate rigorous overall, regularity, and roughness and freeness in details, showing a great contrast of aesthetic characteristics; projected into the Russian national character, it is manifested as a split composed of elements such as contradictions and instability. Sexual characteristics. The traditional embroidery culture of the Russian nationality is like a mirror, reflecting the representative deep-seated characteristics of the national character.

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