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Khanty woman's shirt
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Why this is a

In the 18th century writings and descriptions, the southern Khanty women were shown to wear a shirt and a khalat. Shirts made of nettle cloth or thin linen were proof of the wearer's skill in embroidery. Geometric patterns, swastikas, rhombi, meanders and stylised plant themes like tulips were sewn with two different methods. First the outlines of the embroidery were sketched with black wool thread and the insides of the patterns were filled with red or dark blue thread. Glass beads were obtained in exchange for precious furs and fish. The embroidered shirts had gone out of fashion by the end of the 19th century. August Ahlqvist managed to see these dresses in use in 1880. This shirt is a typical example of an artefact from a relatively early period. Ahlqvist bought mostly aesthetically beautiful items, costumes and jewellery of the Khanty and Mansi.

History of the Object
This piece of Khanty woman's clothing was acquired by August Engelbrekt Ahlqvist (1826-1889), the professor of Finnish language in the Imperial Alexander University of Helsinki. Ahlqvist visited in Russia the Volga Finnic peoples, the Mari and Mordvins and the neighbouring Tatars and Chuvash and even the Khanty and Mansi in Siberia to collect folklore, linguistic and ethnological material. In Siberia he studied the dialects of the Mansi and the Northern Khanty in 1858. In 1877 he obtained a collection of 70 ethnological items to the Ethnographic Museum of the Imperial Alexander University of Helsinki. A third visit was made in 1880. Ahlqvist was accompanied by Edvard A. Vaino (1853-1929) and Nikolai Sundman (1859-1925) who made botanical and zoological investigations. In the valley of the Konda river, Ahlqvist bought a costume of a Khanty woman including this embroidered shirt, a khalat, two necklaces of glass beads, a belt and skin moccasins completely covered with glass beadwork.

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Costume and Jewelry 
Linen cloth; embroidery thread wool; glass beads; brass buttons 
Width 90 cm Length 111 cm  
Creator name
Creator date
Where it was made
Russia; Siberia, Konda river, the village of Kondinsk 
Russia; Siberia 
Time period
AD 19th century ~ AD 19th century 
Creation date
19th Century; Before 1877 
Summer clothing of a Khanty (Ostyak) woman 
Acquired by the Ethnographic Museum of the Imperial Alexander University of Helsinki in 1880 
Text by Ildikó Lehtinen Drawing by G. W. Nummelin after a photography by Emil Boehm 1877 Photos Markku Haverinen 2001 Aalto, Pentti. Oriental Studies in Finland 1828-1918. Societas Scientiarum Fennica 10b. Helsinki 1971. Ahlqvist, Aug. Unter Wogulen und Ostjaken. Reisebriefe und ethnographische Mittheilungen. Acta Societatis Scientiarum Fennicae XIV. Helsingfors 1883. Vahter, Tyyni. Obinugrilaisten kansojen koristekuosit. Ornamentik der Ob-Ugrier. Travaux ethnographiques de la Société Finno-Ougrienne IX. Helsinki 1953. Lehtinen, Ildikó. Obinugrilaiset Aug. Ahlqvistin silmin. Snellman-instituutin B-sarja 21. Kuopio 1989. Lehtinen Ildikó. Costumes of the Siberian peoples - practically and luxury. Siberia. Life of the Taiga and Tundrs. edited by Ildikó Lehtinen. National Board of Antiquities. Helsinki 2002. 
State property, National Board of Antiquities, Finland 
Museum of Cultures, National Museum of Finland 
Credit line



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