A recent encounter of a hat that is designed with Tatar Leather Mosaic technique excited the beginning of 2023! Wish this year is filled with new discoveries and learning opportunities!
A man on the photo (captured by V. Sucksdorff and Y. Blomstedt, now at Finnish Heritage Agency) looks like enjoying his warm hat or, maybe, the fact that he is married – the description mentions “wedding hat”. What can be more stunning than a groom with exceptionally decorated hat? It can easily beat a bride with exquisite Tatar boots…or can it?
The photo of a hard-working man resting on a grass in the village of Muujarvi of eastern Karelia’s (nowadays in Russian Federation) in the summer of 1894 pictures him wearing long boots and the hat.
The hat looks like the one that is commonly used by many ethnic groups populating the areas where cold is a daily normal (even during the summer months). The structure of this type of the hat has flaps that are intended to cover ears, chin, and neck. It is made of leather and fur to keep the head warm. In the description of the photo, the hat is referred as “turkislakki” or “karvaslakki” in Finnish. In Tatar (and several other Turkic languages) this type of hat is called “bürek/börek“or “kolakshchyn”. In Russian it is called “ushanka” or “treuh(ka)“. Interestingly, the words incorporate “ears” in both Tatar and Russian versions, emphasising the intentional design with ear coverings.
A closer look at the hat reveals so familiar Tatar ornamental patterned design attached from the inside by Kazan stitch. It is unknown how this unique “bürek” featuring exceptional decorations created with Tatar Leather Mosaic technique made it to the Scandinavian peninsula and where exactly it was crafted. The largest leather mosaic workshops had been historically located in Kazan area (over 1400 miles away from Muujarvi). Tatar people traditionally covered their heads with different types of hats made of fur, felt and cotton that are skilfully decorated with embroidery but barely with leather mosaic. The hat housed in the National Museum of Finland surprised us with the history and the potential of the Tatar Leather Mosaic.