Not many people around the world know but in the 16th-18th century on the territory of modern Ukraine, were formed special semi-military communities of local people called “Cossacks”. They were fierce warriors and skilled horse riders. They were something like elite military forces in the area, and their clothes deserve our attention. In this material, we’d like to show you how they looked like and what they wore. Mostly, these are wealthy Cossacks and the military leaders, so their outfits are lovely. But their weapons are always more ornate, exquisite, and expensive than the costumes.
Exhibits from The Museum of Making of Ukrainian Nation, Kyiv, Ukraine
Info: Cossacks are a well-organized group of military and semi-military people on the territory of modern Ukraine and Southern Russia. They built democratic, self-governed communities and considered themselves free from Russian, Polish, or Lithuanian rule. The zenith of Cossack communities' existence is the 16th-18th century.
Prince Dmytro “Baida” Vyshnevetsky (around 1517 – 1563/1564), senior royal administrative official from the 16th century and leader of the Cossack army. Wax figure; the clothing is accurate modern replicas of authentic pieces. He’s wearing red because this color of fabric was the most expensive at the time. The coat has a fur collar. Also, you can see the saber with ornate sheath.
Costume of wealthy Cossack. Wax figure; the clothing is accurate modern replicas of authentic pieces. During the 16th century, many experienced professional warriors joined Cossack troops, including nobility. They stood out because of their good equipage – like fire weapons – as well as training and discipline. You can see that his outerwear is also made of red fabric and with a row of buttons. The hat is trimmed with fur. A lot of items are hung on the belt, as was traditional for the time.
Outfit of poor Cossack. Wax figure; the clothing is accurate modern replicas of authentic pieces. Cossack troops included people of different social and financial status. Many Cossacks were farmers or burghers. Note that his attire is very simple, made in bleak colors and of cheap fabrics. He’s wearing a karakul hat. His footwear consists of linen leg wrappings and leather shoes called “postoly”.
Ivan Bohun (? – 1664), Ukrainian military commander and statesman, a Cossack colonel. Wax figure; the clothing is accurate modern replicas of authentic pieces. His costume is made in blue and red colors, which was rather typical (there weren’t any rules as to what colors to combine, people often used as many bright colors as they wanted).
Ivan Vyhovsky (approx. 1608-1664), Ukrainian military leader, politician, statesman, ruler of the Cossack State in Ukraine. Wax figure; the clothing is accurate modern replicas of authentic pieces. His clothing articles are not only red and burgundy, but they are also sewn from very expensive fabrics, like velvet and brocade. The figure is holding a ceremonial mace, the symbol of power in Ukraine, Poland, Turkey, and some other countries. You can also see his saber in a simple but elegant scabbard.
Costume of wealthy Cossack warrior and military commander from the mid-17th century. Wax figure; the clothing is accurate modern replicas of authentic pieces. His attire looks very elegant, with rows of golden buttons, a fur collar, and an ever-present saber. Maybe you’ve already noticed that Cossacks had an unusual hairdo – a shaved head with a long lock of hair left on the top. Such hairstyle was traditional for men of the time, just like it used to be for many warriors in Kyivan Rus’.
Peter Konashevych-Sahaidachny (around 1582-1622), Ukrainian military and political leader, regiment commander. Wax figure; the clothing is accurate modern replicas of authentic pieces. He is dressed like a wealthy Cossack, with a lot of weaponry, including a saber, a bow, and a quiver full of arrows. As you see, the weapon holders are much more ornate and bejeweled than the actual clothing – because they were valued a lot higher.
Jan Karol Chodkiewicz (1560-1621), military and political leader of the Lithuanian-Rus descent, the Great Hetman of Lithuania. Wax figure; the clothing is accurate modern replicas of authentic pieces. As you see, his outfit is very similar to those of other Cossack leaders – the same large fur collar, silk belt, row of buttons, and similar weapons. He also wields a beautiful ceremonial mace, the symbol of power in Ukraine, Poland, Turkey, and some other countries.