The embroidery of the northern and central provinces of Russia in the 18th and 19th centuries shows development in the treatment of traditional motifs. Many different materials and techniques were employed.
Women's headdresses and garments were lavishly worked with seed pearls, couched gold thread, colored foil sequins and the like. The patterns of gold embroidery were outlined with raised stitches for clearer definition.
Picture 1. Top of kokoshnik headdress, Moscow Province, second half of 18th c.:
Picture 2. Kokoshnik headdress, Moscow Province, early 19th c.:
Picture 3. Back of kokoshnik headdress, Central Russia, late 18th c.:
Picture 4. Merchant's wife in a kokoshnik headdress, 1796:
Picture 5.Well-to-do peasant woman in a kokoshnik headdress, first half of 19th c
Picture 6. Merchant's wife in a kokoshnik headdress, first half of 19th c
Picture 7. Merchant's wife in a kokoshnik headdress, 19th c.:
The headdress and ornaments worn by peasant women in the northern provinces of Russia were worked with pearls, mother-of-pearl, colored glass beads, semi-precious stones and other materials.
Picture 8. Pearl-embroidered headdress of unmarried peasant girl, Vologda Province, early 19th c.:
Picture 9. Pearl-embroidered women's headdresses, Tver Province, late 18th or early 19th cc.:
The popularity of pearl embroidery in Russia is explained by the ready supply of cheap Russian seed pearls. The most highly valued Oriental pearls were available only for well-to-do peasants and townswomen.