Dress and acculturation among the Russian Old Believers in Oregon Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/3t945t87x

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  • Russian Old Believers in Oregon
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  • The Russian Old Believers in Oregon maintain a manner of dress which distinguishes them in the communities in which they live. Originating as a group because of a schism within the Russian Orthodox Church in 1666, the Russian Old Believers migrated to the edge of the Russian Empire and beyond in order to maintain a life style which would allow them to retain their traditional ways without persecution. In 1962 some of these Old Believers began immigrating to Oregon from China and Turkey via several intermediary countries and States. At that time each subgroup, as defined by their point of emigration, wore garments that reflected their respective histories and their cultural heritage from Russia. Their dress symbolised identity as Russian Old Believers. Dress is both an individual and cultural expression of taste, social organisation, aesthetics, emotions and historical development. Among the Russian Old Believers traditional forms of dress, a shirt for men and a dress or jumper and shirt for women, are essential parts of rites of passage and overtly define boundaries with non-Old Believers. Dress distinguishes among the ritual, holiday and practical intentions of the wearer and also reveals age, sex, marital distinctions, devotion to religion, group membership and accommodation to a bicultural living situation. Old Believer dress evinces acculturative processes. Contemporary attire shows combinations of elements of dress from three sources: the historic dress of the subgroup, the larger society in which the Old Believers live and contemporary dress of other subgroups. Dress for ritual events remains close to historic Old Believer dress, while everyday dress, whose function is primarily practical, is more amenable to American influences. Variations in the retention of Russian dress can be related to differences in age, sex, exposure to American education, language use, residence and date of immigration. In recent years combinative forms of dress have been developed which exhibit both American influences and traditional Old Believer forms. This transitional dress obscures subgroup differences and shows development of a Russian style rather than adherence to Russian tradition. The functions of the dress and the nature of the situation determine the dress which Old Believers wear.
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