Home: Ethnographic materials: Ethnography of Eastern Europe and the Baltics: Belarusians origins of People and Ethnonym
Belarusians are the Slavic ethnos formed in the ethnocontact territory of Slavs and Balts. The name of the people Belarusians (Belorusy) is the ethnonym given to the Slavic population lived near the White and Baltic Seas by other peoples.
For the first time the mention about the Slavic population named Belarusians are found in the German trade maps of the XIII century. The image of the Belarusian which in many respects conserved up to our days was shaped in the ethnographic works and historical studies of the early twentieth century, The ethno-cultural landscape of Belarus in that times are small villages and towns or boroughs. There the main bulk of the population consisted of merchants and tradesmen who made and sold their production in the same place at the fairs for the needs of rural population.
Man and woman
The objects of Belarusian home interior were generally made of natural materials wood and textile related to division of man and woman functions in culture. The fences around villagers and homesteads, walls of living facilities and utensils, all this was created by man and must protect the interior world of community and family.
The man is the master, the farther batzka for children and the uncle dyadzka for younger members of family. The sphere of his activity was outside the house: agricultural works, hunting, communication with the outside world. Woman is organizer of domestic works and younger children were under her care. The proverb about division of man and woman places states: “Man should smell like the wind, woman should smell like a smoke.
For Belarusians the world of his family is self-sufficient space which includes his entire world.
Ritual function of textile in culture
The home world is created and marked by the hands of women. They made textiles, the first nappy for a baby, towels rushniks, rugs postiki and clothes for the entire family.
Fabric, the symbol of life way accompanies and protects Belarusian all his life. The new-born is put on a piece of fabric; the ritual “woman porridge” is covered with napkin hustka. After the crowning the head of bride is covered with towel-like headdress namitka. The bridal dowry generally consists of textiles as well. In funerals towels are placed in coffin and tied around a tomb cross.