Bashlyk was an item of the uniform, officially adopted in the Russian Army till the Soviet Era, mainly by the Cavalry and Cossack units, and by the Navy.
However, as a part of the winter uniform, it was also used by the Russian Infantry (an example of this are the famous paintings by Vasily Vereshchagin – “The Snow Trenches” and “A Soldier in the Snow,” 1878-1881).
In the early Soviet period, the hood was a part of the State Security Service (NKVD-KGB) uniform.
Bashlyk was adopted by the Russian Army in 1862, two years before the end of the Russian-Circassian War. It was sewn of “wet sand” (light yellow) smooth woolen cloth. The Navy Bashlyk was black. It used to be put on in the -5°C cold, and in summer it protected the back from the sun.
Bashlyk became wide spread in Russia thanks to the Cossacks who lived in the neighborhood with the Circassian (Adyghe) people and took the most practical elements of the Circassian national garment.
In 1862 Bashlyk was inducted as a uniform headdress of the Don and the Terek Cossack Troops, and in 1871 it was adopted in all units of the regular troops.
The Bashlyk’s comfort led to its appearance in the armies of other countries – Germany and then France. For example, in 1881 the French Military Expeditionary Force Troops sent to Tunisia were equipped with the Bashyk hood. In Europe Bashlyk also served as a fashion accessory.
The Eastern origin of Bashlyk still defines the character of its decoration – tassels and braids. However, it remains a strict headdress: a braid sheathes the connecting seams and underlines the simplicity of the constructive solution.
Traditional Bashlyk is sewn of two pieces of local pure wool cloth. It consists of a pointed hood and two long ends, which, if necessary, are wrapped around the neck.
The length of the hood’s back seam is 17.5 inch (44.5 cm); the length of the front seam is 13 inch (33 cm), the width of the hood is 19.3 inch (49 cm). The length of the ends is 47.5 inch (120 cm), the width of the ends in the cutout of the hood is 5.7 inch (14.5 cm), then the width is gradually reduced and rounded at the edges.
Bashlyk is sheathed and edged with a textile braid harmonious with the main color of the hood. The sheathing is done: a) at the edges and the seams (front and rear); b) round the circle, which center is at the apex of the hood, and the diameter of the hood perpendicularly to its seams.
Depending on the item of clothing which is worn with the hood, there are few most popular ways to wear it:
1) with the waist belt put on – on the shoulders, over the coat. The hood is put on the back and the ends are laced under the straps, stacked crosswise on the chest (the right end under the left shoulder strap) and tucked behind the waist belt;
2) without a belt – the ends are tied with a flat knot at the front and tucked over the coat’s board between the 3rd and 4th buttons or re-laced from the front to the back, crosswise and under the straps;
3) when put on the head, the hood covers the hat and the ends are strapped around the collar turned up;
4) when put on the neck, the hood folded double covers the nape and the ends are wrapped around the neck, though the collar is not turned up.
If necessary, Bashlyk may be used as a bag, for example for carrying ammunition.
The men who wore this scarf were brave and wise. Now let us see if you can match their size!