Traditions of small homeland: Volozhin belts

Traditions of small homeland: Volozhin belts

A belt accompanied Belarus' ancestors from birth until death. Infants were tied with belts to calm them down and make their legs straight.

If a belt was untied, as the people believed, it meant a person cast off all restraint and behaved freely. When a young girl was getting married, she needed to weave around hundred belts. Therefore, the tradition of weaving belts was widespread in Belarus. But the Volozhin region has long been famous for its unique technology of weaving: on the leg or with the help of a special tool called ‘nit’ (a round or flat stick).

Grandmothers passed their mastery to granddaughters, and girls already at the age of 8-10 years tightened threads and fixed them on an outstretched leg. It was very convenient and allowed weaving belts even in the field while grazing cows. But the uniqueness of Volozhin belts is that a local craftswoman Maria Staselovich managed to recall her childhood and restore the ancient tradition of weaving! People of the village of Sakovshchina are very proud of it and continue to pass skills to the new generation of the handicraft club Magic Belts.

Svetlana Semenyaga, employee of the rural center of culture in Sakovshchina:
The idea of creating of the museum room of the traditional belt came after Maria Staselovich received the title of folk master of Belarus in the weaving of the belt. She worked in our center of culture at that time. Belts from the entire Volozhin district were collected, some of them are more than 100 years old.

Volozhin belts resemble motley ribbons. They are narrow - about a centimeter and a half. Only men wear wide belts. In ancient times, belts were woven from homemade woolen and linen threads which were painted in a natural way. People bleached linen, boiled the oak bark and onion peel in order to receive the main colors - burgundy, white, gray and pink. "To preserve traditional patterns and coloristics is the main goal today," admits the head of the handicraft club Weavers of the Rakov center of folk art Kristina. She assures that a talented skilled craftswoman is distinguished by specific clicks while weaving. As in any craft, the most patient ones remain.