Ludy Europy Wschodniej
Everyday and aureate outfit

The aureate version of the outfit of a Polovtsian woman included: headgear, composed of a cap, “horns”, a scarf and a hat. It also contained a shirt, a richly adorned caftan with beads and small metal strips attached, also long, wide trousers and high boots. The belt was meant to be fastened tightly and beside decorative functions, it also had a practical one, as bellows and everyday use items were attached to it. The everyday version was different presumably because it included a more modest version of headgear and caftan. The horse riding outfit was composed of trousers, a shirt, a short caftan, high boots and suspenders attached to the belt.


The headgear and its details were perfectly visible on Polovtsian statues. The Polovtsian women' headgear was distinguishable because of its richness and complexity. It included a cap, a scarf and a hat. Hair dressed in plaits was hidden under the scarf. The angles of the scarf were let to cover the back and reach the belt. The headgear was richly adorned, with diverse applications.

The steles do not show all details of the caps. They were marked in form of smooth caps, tightly surrounding the head and in some cases the part which covered the temples were formed in shape of teeth.

0135 Donieck 2007-8
A hat with a high bottom and horns (detail)   

The most frequently imaged hat type had high bottom and wide pentagonal brim. The hat was worn on a richly adorned scarf. The diversity of forms of this headgear was presented perfectly on statues, the other varieties, e.g.: a hat of wide brim, with squad bottom, or a hat having the brim twisted near the back of the head, adorned with a hem and conical quadrilateral high bottom, or a hat with high bottom, mixing with the brim, or a hat with isolated bottom and brim, forming a triangle over the forehead, or a form of the latter type of hat, in which the brim was relatively narrow and “hanging” over the forehead. The brim could also be adorned in the front with a flash hood, for example in shape of small horns, embracing the bottom of the hat. On one of the statues, a woman's head was dressed in a scarf, covering the back and fastened over a rhomboid hat-hubcap. The other types of hats, known from the steles, were the varieties of small and flat cap.

The scarves were imaged in form of oval, triangular fragments of materials, shaped as a “swallow-tail”, falling on the back from over or under the headgear. In some cases, they were additionally hemmed with borders, or adorned with tassels or bows.

0114 Donieck 2007-8
A headscarf covering    
also the back - visible border (detail))   

Scarves were fastened to hats or hair with quadrilateral or rhomboid clasps, as it is very clearly shown in sculptures. They could have also been applications, fastening the scarves by means of strings adorned with tassels or ribbons, which was also imaged in the steles. It cannot be utterly negated that those rhomboid decorations, imitated clasps in shape of scissor-amulets in a very schematic way. There was also such image of clasp on the stele known. Asian Turks believed that the female goddess Umai protected women from the evil spirits by means of sharp items, such as scissors, knives, arrows and blades of all types. Heads could also be adorned with ribbons, often embroidered in oblique dashes, zigzags, “x” signs, surrounding the temples. Sometimes foreheads were also surrounded with sweatbands.

Plaids were carried in soft cases made of fabric. The burial inventories included also covers produced of rolled birch bark. Birch was one of the holy trees, according to the tradition of many of the T'u-küe tribes. Birch bark had also antiseptic features. In folk medicine, it was used against ticks, insects, scabies, eczema and tinea corporis and such practical use of birch bark was made also by the Polovtsians.

Among the funeral inventories discovered with the burials of women and linked to the headgear also the following worth enumerating: leather or cloth, very often silk caps. There is also a known specimen of a cap made of dark blue brocade, adorned by rhomboid motifs. The richest and best preserved headgear was discovered at Filatovka site. In that case, the webbing was hemmed with a golden thread and the back of the cap with bronze, gilded metal strips. A typically Polovtsian feminine adornment, the “horns”, but also the cloth and applications of the “horns” were attached to them. Seldom were the caps adorned with metal badges. Among this kind of specimens, we could also enumerate silver badges, bronze rosettes and silver cloverleafs, discovered near the heads of the dead.

In the archaeological material, discovered until now, hats and scarves have not been preserved or only debris was found. Basing on the pieces of cloth found, it may be concluded that the scarves were made of colourful silk and hats were made of felt. The shape of hats may be reconstructed on the basis of their statue images. An interesting research subject would be a comparison study of similar hats still used today, e.g.: in Kazakhstan.

In some cases, the burials contained bronze wires, which could have been the remnants of applications, used to fasten scarves to caps.

Inner and outer clothing

Feminine clothing was often composed of a shirt, a richly adorned caftan, long, wide trousers and high boots. A belt, to which the everyday use items were attached, was an important element.

[Rozmiar: 24198 bajtów]
Bordiura u poł kobiecego kaftana   

Pouches, mostly trapezoid, but also quadrilateral, square, round and in a turned heart shape were imaged on the right or left side of the statues. In some cases, two of them, or even more, were shown.

The element most commonly shown on the anthropomorphic steles was a long caftan, reaching the knees and having the edges hemmed on the borders, on sleeves near the elbows and less frequently, on the wrists and collar. The laps of a caftan in some cases had fantastic cuts. The borders were often adorned with zigzags, obliques, “x” signs, teeth and “s” shape motifs, or checked. The borders were also presented on statues in form of smooth bands, reflecting colourful hemming in actual clothes. Sleeves of a shirt hemmed with trimming were visible from beneath the caftan. There are also statues imaging a woman, whose waist was surrounded with a scarf adorned with tassels.

The belt often remained invisible on feminine steles and its existence was signalled only by everyday use items, carried by the Polovtsian women, attached.

The research carried out on sepulchral sites allowed to discovered the remains of the outfit, preserved in a better or worse state. The pieces of fabric, from which the inner and outer clothing was made were discovered very rarely. The specimens preserved most frequently were pieces of brocade and silk, from which aureate caftans and sleeve details were made, as well as pieces of shirts hemmed with silver thread and beads.

0113 Donieck 2007-8
High riding boots –    
visible adornments of bootlegs   

Belts were made with leather or with several layers of silk sewn together. Commonly metal pieces of belts, with leather and fabric preserved, were discovered.


Another part of feminine outfit, known from statues, were high boots, reaching the knees. Riding boots were often attached to the belt, by means of string garters. Women wearing them were dressed in shorter caftans or shirts, and long, wide trousers.

Thanks to the archaeological research, we know what was the footwear made of. Boots were made of leather or birch bark, covered with silk or leather and adorned with small metal strips. High riding boots were also installed by a system of string garters, attached to the belts, of which the leather and metal parts have been preserved.


The aureate outfit of a Polovtsian included a shirt, trousers, a caftan made of expensive fabric and adorned with embroideries or small metal strips, and finally, high boots, which often had metal knee pads. By means of a system of strings and rings, boots were attached to a belt fastened around the waist. The everyday and riding outfits included similar sets of clothes.

0097 Donieck 2007-8
Hełm obręczowy – widoczne zdobienia   
otoku oraz utrefione włosy wojownika (detal)   


Not all men presented on anthropomorphic statues were imaged in helms (see: Military Equipment). In some cases they were wearing a cap enforced from the outside with metal and from the inside fur or fabric.

In the archaeological material, there were practically no remnants of other headgear then helms. Sparse finds confirmed that caps enforced from the outside with metal and from the inside with fur. In one of the burials, a cap, made of several layers of fabric and covered with iron plates and capped with a sleeve was found. A similar headgear, of aureate character, was made of leather covered with black sheep hide and capped with a sleeve was found in a Polovtsian aristocrat's burial. Yet another grave contained a leather cap, adorned with golden foil.

Inner and outer clothing

A male caftan, similarly to the female one, was long enough to reach knees. Collar, sleeves on whole length, wristbands and rims were adorned with smooth or ornamented banding. The motifs used to adorn the borders were very similar to those used on feminine steles. The most commonly imaged were: zigzags, diverse combinations of obliques, “x” signs, teeth and grids. An ornamental motif used less frequently were rhomboids. Borders, represented as smooth bands, mapped as multicoloured ribbons without embroidery were a popular element of caftan ornament. There were also caftans, in which laps and sleeves were often adorned with sets of obliques, diverted “v” signs and smooth trimmings. A statue was found, which presented a warrior dressed in a beautifully adorned caftan: banding was used to adorn laps, wristbands and a high collar, the embroidery included almost all combinations of ornaments.

0095 Donieck 2007-8
Ceremonial male caftan   

The collar of a caftan could be formed in different ways: it could embrace the neck loosely or surround the neck tightly and in some cases it was tightly cut. It was often adorned by smooth trimmings and less often with motifs of obliques, teeth or grids. In some cases, the sleeves of the caftan could reach the elbows and a shirt adorned with trimming could be seen beneath it. In some cases, the steles image lanyards that were used to tie the collar under the neck. In some cases, the caftans were covered with more complicated patterns, such as arcades in the back of the laps. Presumably, diversity in details of the ornaments covering different parts of the caftan could reflect membership in family, belonging to various Polovtsian alliances.

Some men used two aureate caftans: an inner one – longer and smooth, as well as an outer one – richly adorned.

Trousers were also smooth or adorned with trimmings.

The belt was used to surround man's torso under the waist, hanging on the pelvis. Weapons, personal use items and poaches were attached to it. Beside the practical function, belt also had a magical one, as it shielded one of the human souls.

What remained after the aureate caftans in burials, were pieces of fabric, usually brocade or silk with broderie. In some cases, silk of varied colours was used. Caftan, as it was assumed basing on the analyses of outfit and military equipment imagery used on statues, was worn probably on chainmail (see: Military Equipment). Two aureate, silk caftans, hemmed with gold and silver forming zoomorphic, geometric and floral ornaments, covered with metal applications and pearls were included in the inventory of a high rank Polovtsian aristocrat from Zamożnoye site. Crimson dyed silk was preserved, which gives only a scarce image of unusual richness of colours of Polovtsian outfit. Their liking in colours was also affirmed by other finds, such as preserved pieces of a caftan from another high social rank male burial. The caftan was made of yellow silk, embroidered with silver and gold thread, with brocade medallions attached. Caftans were fastened with bronze pins, bone clasps and buckles, very often adorned, but also with hooks and attachments. Silver or bronze rattles were also installed.

In the burial of a rich warrior, a light shirt made of crimson silk and brown trousers with leather adornments. Silk shirts, studded with golden metal strips belonged to a khan's grave inventory at Zamożnoye site.

[Rozmiar: 24198 bajtów]
High riding boots   

Boots were frequently high enough to reach knees or even thighs, which was imaged on many sculptures in a detailed manner. Boots were adorned with embossment. They were fastened by a system of strings and buckles to the front of the belt. String straps and oval buckles, are very well visible on several steles. The straps were often embossed and had metal ferrules.

Male boots were usually made of leather, for example of thick black goat or ram hide. Pieces of them were preserved in burials. Boots were often adorned with glass beads and metal strips. Garter straps, made of leather and metal clasping items were preserved in graves of the warriors.


A leather mask, studded with small metal strips, which was also mentioned in “Ornaments” chapter, belongs to the most unique finds. It was possibly meant to be a burial, aureate or magical item. There were two other finds of masks linked with Cherniye Klobuki, which could have been used for protection.

Masks were one of the items typically used by shamans and the tradition of their used derived from the Bronze Age. There were also petroglyphs, associated with Okuniev Culture, and funeral masks from Tagar kurgans found in the Minusinsk Depression. Masks, terrifying evil spirits, were known from the Turkic grave ensembles Köl-Tegina i Tonjukuka (8th century).


Gołębiowska-Tobiasz A.
2004 - „Inwentarze grobowe a stele antropomorficzne u Połowców”, Katalog – and further sources there. Master Theses, no. 339, stored at IAUJ (The Institute of Archaeology at the Jagiellonian University).