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The portrait of an unknown girl in the Russian costume by Ivan Argunov, 1784, showcasing a large kokoshnik head dress.

The kokoshnik (Russian: коко́шник, IPA: [kɐˈkoʂnʲɪk]) is commonly used name for a variety of a traditional Russian head-dresses worn by women and girls to accompany the sarafan, primarily worn in the northern regions of Russia in the 16th to 19th centuries.

Historically a kokoshnik is a headdress worn by married women, though maidens wore a headdress very similar to a kokoshnik, but open in the back, named a "povyazka". The word "kokoshnik" describes a great variety of headdresses worn throughout Russia, including the cylindrical hats of Veliky Novgorod, two pointed nimbus "kika" of Vladimir, triangular shaped "kika" of Kostroma, small pearl hats of Kargopol or scarlet kokoshniks of Moscow etc.

While in the past kokoshnik styles varied greatly, currently a kokoshnik is generally associated with a tall, nimbus or crest shaped headdress which is tied at the back of the head with long thick ribbons in a large bow. The crest can be embroidered with pearls and goldwork or simple applique, usually using plant and flower motifs. The forehead area is frequently decorated with pearl netting. While wearing kokoshnik the woman usually wears her hair in a plait. It resembles the French hood worn in Tudor England, but without the black veil.


Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia (left) and Natalie Portman as the Star Wars character Padmé Amidala wearing the Travel Gown (right), inspired by Russian fashion.

The word kokoshnik first appears in the 16th century documents, and comes from the Old Slavic kokosh, which means a hen or a cockerell. However, the earliest head dress pieces of the similar type (rigid cylindrical hat which completely covered the hair) have been found in the 10th- to 12th-century burials in Veliky Novgorod.[1]

Kokoshnik gave its name to the decorative corbel arch that was a distinctive element of traditional Russian architecture since 16th century (see kokoshnik in architecture).

During the revival of Russian national culture in the early 19th century, diadem-shaped tiaras became part of the official court dress for royalty and ladies-in-waiting. These "kokoshniks" were inspired just as much by Italian Renaissance fashions and the french hood as they were by the authentic Russian kokoshniks still worn by the middle class and wealthy peasants of the time. This time, the variety used traditionally by unmarried women was worn by both unmarried and married women, showing front part of hair, and it had a translucent veil falling down the back.

Kokoshniks were worn by peasant girls and women on special occasions until the Russian Revolution.

After the Revolution kokoshnik was introduced to the rest of European fashion by Russian émigrés. Even before, it was a wedding head dress of Mary of Teck, the Queen consort of the United Kingdom.

Today kokoshniks are worn chiefly by girls and women in Russian folk ensembles. Kokoshnik is also a part of traditional costume of Snegurochka, the granddaughter and assistant of Ded Moroz (the Russian Santa).

One of the costumes of Senator Padmé Amidala in the Star Wars saga, the Gold Travel Costume, was based on the Russian national costume with kokoshnik,[2] known in the rest of Europe from the photographs taken during 1903 Ball in the Winter Palace.


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