Hats and Lexicography.

I’m reading Catherine Evtuhov’s Portrait of a Russian Province: Economy, Society, and Civilization in Nineteenth-Century Nizhnii Novgorod, which, while frequently dry, has all sorts of interesting tidbits and creates a convincing portrait of both the city and province of Nizhnii Novgorod. Here’s a paragraph I can’t resist posting, for obvious reasons; it’s pretty representative and should give you an idea of whether the book is for you:

Hats were another matter. Their transcendence of local boundaries rested on fame and fashion. Seventy artisans and 250 workers crafted hats each year from September to February, and caps from February to July. Vladimir Dal’, whose most productive years of work on the dictionary were spent in this particular region (he wrote up to the letter “O” while there), adduces as the example for the word kartuz (cap): “V Kniaginine sh’iut kartuzy na ves’ krai” (Caps for the whole region are made in Kniaginin). Hat and cap makers worked at home; they bought materials and instruments at the Nizhnii Novgorod fair. Unlike some of the technically more primitive handicrafts, the hat business required a serious investment: sewing machines by Popov, Singer, or Blok could cost between forty and eighty rubles; blocks (bolvany), an iron, scissors, thimbles, measures, and needles, as well as a variety of materials and fabrics—sheepskin, wool (drap), broadcloth (sukno), velveteen (plis), corduroy, and so forth—added up to a total initial expenditure of eighty-five rubles. Hats and caps could be considered partial products, because essential parts—crowns for hats and also for caps—were bought at the Nizhnii Novgorod fair or in Moscow; this was for reasons of prestige as well as difficulty of manufacture: the crucial segments bore a much-coveted stamp of the city factories, making the final product that much more valuable. The types of hats also reflected fashion rather than practicality. There were nine types: Moscow, buttoned, Polish, round, semiround, boyar, Tatar, Slavic, and Persian.29 True to the example given by Dal’, the most prosperous artisans traveled as far as the Krestovskaia fair in Siberia, while others frequented the southern provinces and of course the Nizhnii Novgorod fair; only fifteen to twenty of them stayed home, though sales at Kniaginin and neighboring rural and urban markets flourished. Thirty families lived entirely elsewhere, maintaining their connection to Kniaginin only through their official papers.

Footnote 29 gives the Russian terms for the types of hats: “The types were described as moskovskaia, pod pugovku, po[l]’skaia, sharik, polusharik, boiarochka, tatarskaia, slavianskaia, and persiianka.” I love that kind of detail.

Addendum.
Not worth a separate post, but I have to record for posterity this quote from p. 162 (she is discussing a meeting of the Arzamas district zemstvo in September 1881): “…the Poltava zemstvo’s fund-raising effort for a school named after Nikolai Gogol was rejected on the grounds that too few constituents would have heard of the accomplishments or even the name of this writer.” (Footnoted to pp. 8-9 of the Журналы XVII очередного Арзамасского уездного земского собрания 1881 года с приложениями, which, unsurprisingly, is not online.)

Comments

  1. The hat names with feminine endings, were they women’s hats?

    I am especially interested in persiianka. I thought traditionally Persian women wore shawls for their headwear, not hats.

  2. The Tumbleweed Farm says:

    Such a pity – all these words (and, presumably, the types of hats they’ve described) are now completely forgotten…

    Talking about hats – it’s winter now, and Russian soldiers and officers up to the Lt. Col. rank are wearing the ushanka hats (fur hats with ear flaps), while colonels and generals sport the distinctive tall papakha sheepskin hats. There is a story about Soviet colonel who wrote a letter to the Minister of Defence, complaining that while the papakha makes colonels so distinctive in their winter uniform, the summer uniform has no similar distinctive feature, and makes it easy to confuse a colonel with a Lt. colonel or even a major from a distance; and can’t something be done about it? The Minister’s response was simple: “Let this idiot wear his papakha hat year round!”

  3. The hat names with feminine endings, were they women’s hats?

    No, they reflect the fact that the word for ‘hat’ (шляпа) is feminine.

    TTF: Great story!

  4. That would account for adjectives like slavianskaya or tatarskaya (as a shorthand for Slavic hat, I suppose), but not for nouns – persiianka (Persian woman) and boyarochka (little noble girl?).

    And why sharik (little ball) is masculine? Because it’s round?

    It doesn’t make sense.

  5. Why the brackets in po[l]‘skaia ?

  6. That would account for adjectives like slavianskaya or tatarskaya (as a shorthand for Slavic hat, I suppose), but not for nouns – persiianka (Persian woman) and boyarochka (little noble girl?).

    These are shorthand too. A type of derivative which normally refers to females can also be applied to inanimate objects in order to form hyponyms of a feminine-gender noun. Boyarochka is not more ‘a little noble girl’ than bogatyrka is ‘a female hero’. They mean ‘[something grammatically feminine] worn by nobles/heroes’.

    And why sharik (little ball) is masculine? Because it’s round?

    Because it’s the diminutive of a non-derived (primary) masculine noun which cannot be easily converted into a feminine (and has many other meanings which have nothing to do with headgear).

  7. I just did a google search on boiarochka. It turns out the term is not obsolete at all, it is a type of women’s fur hat which is still made and worn by Russian women.

  8. –Because it’s the diminutive of a non-derived (primary) masculine noun which cannot be easily converted into a feminine (and has many other meanings which have nothing to do with headgear).

    It is also a name of a dog in popular Polish TV series!

  9. Recently, Russian acquired a new word – “shara”, from English “share”. It is primarily used as synonym of older slang term halyava – something available for free or at low price.

    It is a feminine noun, but it is unlikely to be used as feminine form of “shar” due to huge difference in meaning.

  10. It is also a name of a dog in popular Polish TV series!

    Oh yeah, but Sharik the dog (named so because he looked like a little ball of fur as a puppy) was born of a local Siberian mother somewhere on the banks of the Ussuri, close to the Manchurian border (hence his Russian name instead of Polish Kulka). The fact that, as a grown-up dog (and member of a tank crew on the eastern fronts of WWII), he was played by three different German shepherds in the series, was a little inconsistent with his descent from Siberian laikas (and the side of the front he was on), but what the hell.

  11. Why the brackets in po[l]‘skaia ?

    Because the -l- was omitted due to a typo in the book. It’s quite well proofread for a book with so much transliterated Cyrillic, but there are some typos, as well as errors by the author, like calling a village known for its knives “Vachi” instead of Vacha; I’m pretty sure “Vitkula” (for a village in Sosnovo volost that manufactured files) is an error too, but I can’t figure out for what.

  12. Trond Engen says:

    Something Finnish, no doubt.

  13. the term is not obsolete at all, it is a type of women’s fur hat which is still made and worn by Russian women.

    For the men, it was more commonly named “boyarka” (Боярка, w/o a diminutive suffix) and it was a in production throughout the Soviet years

    The same dictionary / encyclopedia site explains that there were two distinct subtypes of moskovskaia hats – московская без выреза (пушкинская) (they illustrate it with a picture of Brezhnev in such a hat) vs. московская с вырезом (соколка)

    ( Just for the further enjoyment of our esteemed Hat 😉 )

  14. I never tire of hats and all things hat-related!

  15. Trond Engen says:

    Oh, sorry, wrong link. Since there’s no Wikipedia entry in English, I meant to link to Amazon.

  16. I’m pretty sure “Vitkula” (for a village in Sosnovo volost that manufactured files) is an error too, but I can’t figure out for what.
    Vitkulovo, pop. 584, on the outskirts of today’s town of Sosnovskoe. In several historical documents, known for its manufacturing of files … but no mention of any hats.

  17. Trond Engen says:

    Oh, wrong Sosnovo!

  18. No, that’s got to be it — they just changed the name from Vitkula to Vitkulovo, and it’s such an obscure little place Google didn’t turn up any hits for the former name. Thanks!

  19. Trond Engen says:

    No, I meant to say that I had the wrong Sosnovo. There’s one north of St. Petersburg that fit well to my idea of a Finnish -la suffix. For some reason it didn’t occur to me that it would be extremely unlikely to appear in a book about Nizhniy Novgorod.

  20. You can see mentions of its file business in Google books as early as in 1871 (and the name is always Vitkulovo).

  21. I am not sure how it normally works in English, but for someone who knows Russian Nizhnii Novgorod fair is grating. In Russian, the name of the city is Нижний Новгород = Nizhnii Novgorod, but adjective is нижегородский (in masculine) is it too much to translate it Nizhegorod like Nizhegorod fair?

  22. PS: it’s listed as Vitkulovo of Gorbatovski uezd in 1863, too. “Vitkula” may be either a mistake or an informal local usage. BTW did you notice that Sosnovka was originally a settlement of royal bortniki (people who cultivated wild honey) ? Is there an English word for this line of agriculture?

  23. is it too much to translate it Nizhegorod like Nizhegorod fair?

    I’m afraid so. That’s a cross Russian speakers just have to bear.

  24. Bortnik (supposedly from *bъrti “drill, chisel” [a hollow]) a hollow of a tree with bee colonies is also Czech brt / Polish barć. Vasmer makes a link with Latin forare “to punch a hole”, which is supposedly <= PIE *bʰerH- (“to pierce, strike”) and cognate with both “forum” and Russian оборона “defence”

  25. I think you mean Lat. forāmen ‘opening, hole’, not forum ‘public space’, which is rather obviously related to Slavic dvorъ (and to the ‘door’ word family), and whose f- reflects PIE *.

  26. I’ve even seen the Nizhegorod fair translated as “downtown market”

  27. The Tumbleweed Farm says:

    Regarding “Vitkula”, the home of files, it has to be Vitkulovo (Виткулово). At least that’s what item 181 in the catalog of the 1896 All-Russian Industrial and Artistic Expo seems to imply. The village is also listed in the list of the populated places in today’s Sosnovskoye District.

  28. @SFReader: I think I first heard “на шару” around 1990 and assumed is was a truncated version of “на шаромыжку”, originally “на шерамыжку”, of either French or unknown provenance.

    @Dmitry: Боярка and московская are new words to me but I recall that Gorbachev wore a пирожок type of fur hat. Few people, it seems, wear fur hats in Moscow nowadays, and if they must do so on very cold days, most designs are post-Soviet. But in places where -30C is considered warm for the winter, too much innovation could be fateful for one’s ears.

  29. Stefan Holm says:

    Alexei K. new words to me

    New ‘hat’ words maybe but not new ‘words’. Московская together with Столичная are (in-) famous all over Northern Europe as remedies against -30° C. Could be just as fateful for one’s ears as innovative hats though. :-)

  30. For some reason I can’t read this without thinking of Edith Wharton and the fact that hat-making was one of the last stops for women as they slid down the miserable economic ladder.

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