Saturday, 19 April 2014

Tolstoy`s boots and shirts

One of his pleasures was to make boots for himself and his friends or family.
Visiting Tolstoy`s demeure in Moscow you can see many authentic pieces that belonged to the writer. The manor is astonishingly well preserved taking into account that in Moscow little escaped the soviet slaughter.

The rooms are practical and small to keep the harsh russian winter at bay. There is a coziness everywhere, his bycicle, good French porcelain in the kitchen, a pair of dumbbells in his study, his beautiful long linen starched shirts his wife used to make for him. Russian noble men in the 20th century wore their trousers over their boots and their shirts tucked into their trousers yet Tolstoy wore them belted over in a peasant style.

And the famous beard of Count Tolstoy. His long beard was sub-cultural, a sign of anarcho-pacifism, a stance on social change, against the rules of the tsars starting with Peter the Great that tried to westernize and modernize old barbarian and religious Russian habits. All nobility living in Peter had to shave their long beards in the 18th century and only serfs and religious men were allowed to grew one. I wonder if many of the old people still wearing it nowadays in the streets of Moscow are his followers or just serfs nostalgics.

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