Russian Old Believer's weaving

I ran across this site the other day and just wanted to share it.

There are a number o interesting patterns and also photos of the looms some of the old-timeers are still using. The community is in Oregon and consists of three seperate communities who emigrated here from China.  After the Bolshevik revolution many people fled West but as many fled East through China and eventually made it here to the US. From tthe photos they appear to use a numbr of different looms from backstrap looms to an unusual arrangement that appears to be a counter balance loom with weights attached to balance the weight of the shafts.  Some appear to hang from the ceiling and there is at least one home made stan-alone loom.

Bolivian Warmi posted regarding the Old Believer's belts that she had seen and I hope that there have been some samples by now, maybe even completed items.  

It is interesting the different techniques used in cluding weaving, plaiting, card-weaving, and a "hidden" technique (potainoi, which actually translates into secret technique) and even sewn belts.  The bottle belts, which I'm not familiar with, appear to be woven as a tube. Check out the pages there are photos of designs some of which are pick-up and there are variations based on location such as the Bulgarian and Slovak types.  There are also a number of videos on the site.  Enjoy!

Happy New Year everyone and best regards, Charles 


Posted on Wed, 01/04/2012 - 15:06

It was interesting to study some of the images of the field photos of the patterns. Inspiration for my next inkle pick-up pattern. Glad you posted so there are bread crumbs left on the path leading to this link!

Posted on Wed, 01/04/2012 - 17:15

Tapestry artist Kathe Todd Hooker owns a large collection of Old Believer belts (poyas) which she allowed me to study and photograph at CNCH 2010. She also gave a very interesting slide show on them.

The designs woven in the potainoi technque (hidden weft technique as they call it) can be reproduced using the pebble weave technique that I learned in Peru and Bolivia. That is what first attracted me to these belts.

I have been trying since then to track down the origin of that particular technique in Russia and other ex Soviet Union countries and would love to know if the technique is still practiced somewhere there. I have found pebble-like belts that are single faced but not this double-faced version.

The belts with supplementary warp designs are very common throughout eastern Europe and I have seen patterns very similar to those on the Old Believer belts in the work of the Komi and on Lithuanian sashes as fact in many other places too.

I am posting this little by little as I am having tech problems as usual with Weavolution

Posted on Wed, 01/04/2012 - 17:10

National Geographic has an article in their Sept 1972 issue about the settlements of the Old Believers in Alaska. It includes a very beautiful picture of a woman making a card woven belt.

There are also a few moving photo essays on Youtube. Their story is so very sad.

I show some of the belts from Kathe Todd Hooker's collection on my blog mainly here but there are several other posts on this topic too.

The center belt here is my reproduction of one of the supplementary warp designs on a belt in Kathe's collection.

Posted on Wed, 01/04/2012 - 17:23

There is a community of Russian Old Believers right here in Santa Cruz Bolivia where I live. Many of them came to South America, mostly to Brazil. I sometimes see the men in town with their blue eyes, long beards and long belted shirts. I rarely see the women who wear bright floral print dresses. They all keep very much to themeselves. I do see, however, that their belts are single colored warp faced bands.

I reproduced one of the potainoi patterns on one of the belts in Kathe's collection...I couldn't resist the pebble weave! The original belt is on the left.

Posted on Tue, 10/02/2012 - 21:12

Thank you so much for this link, it's so interesting! And beautiful. I saved it so I can refer back to it for inspiration in the future ^-^

~Debi :)