Inspiration #4, a retainer from Kyiv

Inspiration series continues and in its fourth episode, I will introduce Viktor Kralin, Russian reenactor, who is the leader of White Lynx group (Белая Рысь) and whom I greatly admire. As the Kievan Rus reenactment is quite popular in the world, I find it particularly interesting to show how Russian reenactors represent their own history.

Viktor draws attention to the fact that there are not many fabric findings in Kievan Rus, so he collects all the data from 9th to 11th century and is looking for foreign analogies. His costume is set to the second half of the 10th century and represents the leader of princely retinue, druzhina.

Viktor’s costume will probably catch your eyes because of his silken clothes with printed patterns. In the photos we can see pink silk caftan with bronze buttons reaching to his waist. Viktor points out that bronze buttons are typical for this garment. The caftan is decorated with printed motifs found in Černihov (see this article) and it is girded with a replica of belt from Šestovica. There is a bag decorated with a metal lid hanging from the belt, which is a replica of the find from Eperjeske. Over the caftan, he wears a monumental patterned cloak, which is a gift from his wife; it is clasped with a borrowed (hence provisional) replica of pin from Birka (grave Bj 624). Similar patterned cloaks are depicted on church frescoes from 11th and 12th century. On his legs, he wears wide beige trousers, inspired by Scandinavian finds, mentions and illustrations. There are red leg wrappings wrapped over the trousers. His feet are protected by low leather shoes. Viktor’s neck is decorated with a silver chain with a silver Byzantine cross. On his head, we can notice a woolen cap, lined with linen and with a hem made of beaver pelt, based on the illumination from Svjatoslav’ chronicle (dated to 1073).

The battle version of the costume consists of the helmet, which is a replica of the find from “Black Mound” near Černihov (in some older photos, Viktor wears a four-piece helmet, to which is riveted a separate nose-guard), lamellar armor based on the find from Novgorod (2nd half of 11th century), leather gloves, plank shield and Petersen type T sword, which is one of the most common sword types in Viking Age Ukraine.

I would like to thank Viktor Kralin for granting me permission to use his photographs and for detailed description of his costume. Here we will finish this article. Thank you for your time and we look forward to any feedback. If you want to learn more and support my work, please, fund my project on Patreon or Paypal.

10. dubna 2020

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