Shamanochki Horned Kichka – The Evolution from Grandmother Shaman reduced to Maiden Bride

By Phoenix of Elder Mountain – I am particularly interested as a shaman, in my ancestral grandmothers and their ancient prehistoric rituals which were dominant before the 5th through 8th centuries. Before writing, we had art and oral traditions that carried our stories during the long winter moons and the celebrations of life. Much can be seen in more primitive folk arts of both Slavic and Balkan peoples, the rituals left today that have pieces of her story.

Its been millenniums since her story was active but clues left from ancient artist’s and shamans rituals are still all over the world in archaeology, cave paintings, and old threads from ancient weavers. They are also hidden in the very subtle, such as images, stone art, middle ages textiles and folk art, modern textile folk clothing, headdresses, bridal wear, folk songs, round dances and aspects of older pre-pagan symbolism, hieroglyphs and petroglyphs.

One particular ancient shamanic lineage still has a modern tradition today, which are the Russian headdresses of the Balto-Slavic women who wore what is called today, the Russian or Slavic “Horned Kichka.” These also have similarities of the traditional Norwegian Headdresses, including Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Balkan headdresses of Georgia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, all resemble a basic folk traditional headdress that are remarkably alike.


The original prehistory or shamanic headdresses were made from animal antlers, from large to small Moose, Stag, Elk and Ram’s horns attached to her headdress defining the clan leadership of the women. For example, the Grandmothers who were the most experienced shaman or leader, wore the biggest horns, the Mothers (adult women) wore smaller ones and the Maiden were not allowed to wear any horns.

These ancient headdresses today are now limited to maidens who are getting married and wear the brides hat. Today’s tradition of Bridal headdresses are called Kichko, Kokoshnik, Kika кика (головной убор). Woman’s mysterious rites of pre-pagan shamanism were later defined in pagan era’s as the silver-haired sorceress, the beautiful goddess spinner Mogosa, as her skirt made of coarse cloth, embroidered with symbolism and head as goddess of fate, crowned by her shaman’s Horned Kichko.

These headdress are made up of two horizontal horns. The Horned Kichko (Kika and sometimes Kichka) in particular of all Slavic and Russian headdresses, Since the 13th century, rather than loose these origins of her shamanic past of which the horned kichko symbolizes, the women would integrate their headdresses into modern religious or pagan ceremonies (weddings) as a way to keep the original horned headdress alive (without the animal horns.)

Kichko or Kichka and “Chelo kichnoe” was first mentioned in a document in 1328 when it was worn mainly by women in the southern provinces of Tula, Ryazan, Kaluga and Orel and the women were still wearing the headdress in the form of Elk, Ram, Moon, Deer or other horns which appeared in ancient times and regarded by the elder shaman women as a sacred talisman. These horns were worn by the female shaman elder warrior for its community and clan.

Ryzan Russia Shamanochki - Elder Mountain Dreaming

Women shamans also wore them as a way to protect themselves from the shadow souls of living humans that wandered from peoples clans and then villages. Kichko had a large distribution in the regions of Arkhangelsk and Vologda province in Russia and were very dominant and in later periods of rising clans, the Finno-Ugric ancestors (X – XIII centuries), which had some of the same kinds of female headdresses, originating from indigenous white Slav and Balkan women.


Young women (maidens or younger girls) were  not allowed to wear any such headdress, especially in tribe ceremonies, they would be horn-less as the longest horns of the Kichka are only worn by the eldest grandmother shaman leaders and the smaller horns by the mothers and adult women for ceremony. These horned headdress would never be worn outside of ceremony. The Russian nation was formed originally from two basic ethnic groups, the Slavs and the Merja and the Merja were the originators of the Horned Kichka and that is why they are so different and more ancient with the references to animals (shamanic cultures). The Woman’s headdress or ancestral inheritance of the Merja tribe is shown in these Kichkas.

Horned kitchkoRozhanitsa
One of the Goddesses who carries this tradition is Rozhanitsa, who is a Goddess but also an older nature based spirit of the Moon. In more pagan eras, she oversees the goddesses of destiny, which the Hellenes called the Planids, that is, they are the same goddesses of the moon children who are born with the temperaments of the soul. Queen of Rozhanits was the Golden Baba of Russia who protects the Slavic people during the winter months “until the spring equinox has broken through.” This makes Rozhanitsa part of the Grandmothers of Winter:  Maslenitsa, Marzanna, Morena, Mara and Mora.

She is a more obscure Slavic goddess whose feast day is the Winter Solstice before religions. A wintery grandmother who is depicted with Deer or Stag Antlers, where the Horned Kichko comes from – which denotes spiritual and clan authority, as the greater the size of the Stag horn, the more leadership the shamanic grandmothers headdresses would be. It was never one grandmother, but a circle of powerful elder grandmothers who lead the clan and tribe.
Her worshipers gave her gifts of honey, bread and cheese around the winter solstice weeks and later it was also a tradition to make and give white, deer-shaped cookies. Some Russian women continue to celebrate the Feast of Rozhanitsa. It is believed that her feast day has existed knowingly (without written documents but oral traditions) since the 10th century. In later pagan times, she was changed to the Feast of the Rod and Rozhanyts on the Autumn Equinox.
Grave find non-wedding headdresses, ancient Shamanic Headdress - 10th Century with adornment place on the skull
Grave revealing an ancient Shaman’s headdress of women before the 10th Century.

Magpie Headdress
There is also the “Magpie headdress” and like the Kichko it is without the horns defining the aspect of Maiden. Unusual “magpie” headdress of a chief or a peacock’s tail, wore representative ethnographic group Novosilkih Cossack Women, who lived in several villages of the former county Novosilski Tula. Investigated in 1902 this region N. M. Mohyla wrote: “Magpie – Old Russian headdress of women and was widely distributed in the central parts of Russia, as well as some groups Mordovians. It was the richest of women’s hats; to the beginning of the XX century until the “Forty” headdress fell into disuse.

The Magpie as a Headdress is the structure of the Kichko (Kika, Kichka) but over her forehead a little lower, and laterally several inches higher than the normal Kichko. The main objects that form a Magpie, goes together in this headdress were Kichko, Forty, Pozatylnik, Nalobnik, and the Handkerchief . Additional – various ornaments from beads, feathers, ribbons, artificial flowers were added also.” Magpie can be defined as the cut and always decorated with embroidery on it. A piece of cloth that is worn “over” the horned Kibalko (Kichko / Kichka). Magpies, which are particularly a certain cut that is flatter and the sewn part (like a case), worn on the horns Kichko also or the basic structure of it – stick these horns back or stick them up in the Peasant headdress of women.

Russian Headdress

Русские народные головные уборы – Russian folk hats
Сорока (головной убор) – Forty (headdress)
Кокошник (головной убор) – Kokoshnik (headdress)
Повойник – Povoynik (headdress)
Ширинка (головной убор) – Zip Fly (headdress)
Сарынь на кичку – Saryn on Kichko (headdress)

HORNED KICHKA, KICHKO and it’s variants below
Kichko is a soft canvas cap on the front of which was reinforced solid elevation. Elevation on the front of Kichko, called Kichka has specific horns. There is also the (spade Kichko), the horse hoof (hoof Kichko), horns upward (horned Kichko), as well as in a circle or semi-circle (kotelkoobraznye Kichko). In the same area every day life could kichek different options. Also called a Kika – Kichko woman’s headdress, in ancient Russia had the appearance of an open crown, in which the front part was called Tskoy or brow Kichnym, decorated with precious stones.


Horned Kichka

FORTY – The Forty headdress is a crown and binding worn on top of the hat (worn over the Kichko base). It is usually made of calico, silk and velvet on a linen or a cotton lining. Forty-ligated usually of two or three pieces of cloth. The front part of it called the forehead, hu, the brisket ; side parts – wings ; rear – the tail . Along with the magpies in the form of caps were also common magpie, stitched not completely: there were only connected with hu “tail” and “wings” with hu.

tula forty
The Tula Forty Kichko headdress.
Forty Dankovsky county
Forty Headdress from Dankovsky Region.

Forty Ryazan district, on a gross basis. (Archive Geographic Society).

Forty Headdress from the Shebekinsky District
Forty Headdress from the Shebekinsky District.

Forty decorated shitёm or precious stones called fathoms ; was also forty- winged (with lateral lobes with strings, or wings): hair pulled together sderihoy at the nape. Sometimes front magpie was added and pearls (podvyaz) on to the forty. If on top of magpies tied a handkerchief , then she called it “forty- Povoa .”

POZATYLNIK pozatylen, podzatylen, shoes – a rectangular piece of cloth glued or sewed on a solid foundation of cardboard, bark, quilted canvas and so on covering the hair on the back of the head and the neck, and fastened ribbons around Kichko or Magpie .

NALOBNIK naloben, podchelok, nalysnik – a narrow (3 to 8 cm) strip of canvas, coated braid, beads, beads, stacked around the head so that one edge of it was covered by a magpie, and another covered part of the forehead, temples, tips ears. Nalobnik ends tied under pozatylnikom.

HANDKERCHIEFa necessary accessory on the Magpies and appeared as part of the headgear from the second half of the XIX century, taking the place of towels and pants .

Headdress called lobaznya from the Orel province
Headdress called Lobaznya from the Orel province.

MAGPIE – The most mysterious headdresses are the Magpie Kichko. Both Chinese women  and Slavic women have nearly the same horned Kichkas in their respected traditions, they also have a similar rounded headdress. The Chinese Ancient Wei, shu and Sui-shu said about their tribal Tochars (Tu-ho-lo) we have a similar headdress worn by the Bashgali-kafirs in the west and in the Chitral Yarkande. So, here the horns on the headdress of women symbolized her power in the shamanic cultures of women which tells me some of the ancient indigenous pre-Russian grandmothers and pre-Chinese grandmothers had exchanges, in some of their shamanic ritual headdresses.

magpieThe Magpie in Chinese teachings is spiritually about the bridge of Heaven, between bride and groom (symbolically meaning between mind and soul). The magpie as a totem, spiritual means unity of the self within one’s own soul – much like the eastern religious paths of modern Buddhism. In Slavic traditions in the Medynskiy county, Kaluga Province it is said in the customs that virtue of the”Magpie is to pronounce the bride-groom” (Zelenin Opis. manuscript. 579). These two traditions have a cross over in the earlier shamanic cultures of women and have small pieces left in after the tenth century, and certainly was not a religion’s tradition of marriage.

Like the Kichko without the horns, the “magpie” was the headdress of a grandmother chief and in later centuries was worn by a representative of the ethnographic group in Novosilkih by the Cossack Woen, who lived in several villages of the former county Novosilski Tula. Investigated in 1902 this region N. M. Mohyla wrote – “It is much better to preserve female costume in some villages of Novosilski county, for example, in the village of Vyshnii Zalegoshch these folk dress were used in female “Ritual” and is preserved to a remarkable fullness and diversity, and still enjoys vesobschim recognition.

A small amount of silver in the thread of a “Spool” on the headgear is the cause of their mass mortality and again refers to the Magpie bird. It’s necessary to look at the individual parts of the headdress. Like the term Kichko, the Great Soróka word is used in two different meanings. The first is the general name of all the headdresses as a whole; it’s the same piece, which is more often called the Kichko, and in some places it is called a special term of Srýza (Sapozhok county of the Ryazan Province.) This piece consists of a large number of 8 to 14 individual parts (Materials on the ethnography of Russia, 1910, p. 7, Art. Mohyla NM).

The second meaning – the top part of the gear, consisting of decorated in a different way, and especially the cut pieces of fabric. Here is a list of all parts of the hat as a whole, which in our days were called sayanki (the local name for a particular group) in the village of Býzets Demetrius County Kursk Province. The Kichko rózhki which is put directly on the spit, lying on the head in the form of a wreath; Kichko advances down to half of the forehead.

Central Asia, a Saukele - Kazakh headdress ©Peter the Great's Museum
From Central Asia, a Saukele – Kazakh headdress

After the Kichko, a thick silk strongly reminiscent of the usual maiden braids is woven in only four strands instead of three strands; on the back of their hand which hangs on the back. In short, the link, a sort of artificial braids and they almost are a relatively new fashion (the hair and the kichko connection), borrowed perhaps in the 18th century. Linking these sewn items, is their upper ends by a narrow ribbon called Plánochka, three in a row, and this ribbon is tied to the horns of threads of Kibalko; on the horns of this often made even special scars and connects the Magpie Bridge of the Chinese references of the women of China.

The upper edge of pozatylnya in the variety of Magpies is the most important part of attire known name actually Soróki. In this area Soróka is somewhat different from magpies. We have already said that pozatylen here represents a separate part of the magpie hat. The main thing about forty, is its very close to the cut of Ryazan, cross-linked as a cap, and only back seams (stitching) does not reach the bottom of almost half of the height-dress, with ties remain. Ryazan Magpie can easily sew the same way, in the form of caps, but then it would not hanging back down pozatylnik surrounded by colored tassels. Voronezh soróka is very close to the described Kursk, but much lower than its advance and has more rounded top.


In general, the degree of cross-linking of its parts of the Magpies in different areas are not the same. They range from completely unfolded cut to full caps, with the latter, especially if it is not made of matter, light, and of velvet, is already generally kokóshnika name. Then there are the so-called Makýshki which takes between 10 and 25 is short and wide silk ribbon, which in the direction of several tapering upwards; the lower ends of them edged with fringe. The upper parts of the tops, like linking, sewn onto a narrow ribbon (plánochka 7). This planochka with tops tied to the bottom of the backside of magpies, a little above pozatylnya; fringe at the bottom of the tops down on pozatylen, closing the top of the viewer, devoid of embroidery, a part of it.

Project Gutenbergs The Evolution of Fashion by Florence Mary Gardiner
The Evolution of Fashion, by Florence Mary Gardiner – Russian Bride

Worn in such a way as to Forty (tied-to-head) in red silk handkerchief, an advance harness covers the Magpie of embroidered nalobnik (hu); posterior which is associated with the ends of the handkerchief as it falls under tops and covered by the latter, so that the node is not visible at all. – Under a handkerchief on the right side of the head made of worsted, silk and feathers; it is consistent with the pen on the ladies’ hats. – Complete complex piece plaits or péysiki duck feathers, which closes the lower end of a piece, and the upper end, an annular, descend on the cheeks – between the eye and the ear. Annular feather from the tail of the drake is often inserted into the stem of a goose feather, and the rod is twisted colored woolen threads. Thus, we counted in the Kursk Greenwood (forty) 10 pieces, with 10-25 considered the tops in one piece, as well as the linkages 10, too, for one part.

horned kichSometimes, wings were sewn on the front of the Magpie headdres, which is called: Nalóbnik, Ochéle (from seq. Forehead – forehead) chólyshko, nachélok, nadbróvnik, prichёlok. In this same area (Rykov Sloboda 8 miles from the mountains. Ryazan, described by N. Lovtseva in 1850 from the archive of the Geographical Society) in hu are three parts:

The lower border is above the eyes, is called: Tarachkov (fringe) over her podzór – a narrow pattern, and above it Soróka – wide, the main pattern on the forehead.

Above are pálchiki – white ribbons on a red field, in the form of straight narrow strips. More vérhnik above, which has no decorations and covers, in the form of the fitted, top of the head on. Behind her kolódka a covering is worn in the form of the head; in other places is called: zadók, nazatylen; kolódka name probably explains its hardness: sewn onto a splint or even a thin board. Finally, comes the tail, which differ pozatylnik and terry, cords with tassels on the ends.

Parts of magpies are the wings and tail, chtó and unites it with the Magpie Bird. Penza Krotkov an author wrote in 1854 about the local Magpie Saransk district, “if you look at the back of the head-dress of women, it is like looking at a bird sitting with bent wings’ (Zelenin Opis. Manuscript. 976).

Vitebsk Belarusians often sewed her magpie of different pieces of calico and other fabrics: in the same magpie perёd red, blue back and sides are yellow, or: perёd silk, paper back and sides worsted (Ethnographic Collection Geographic Society, II. SPB . 1854, p. 133).

grnadmotherThis diversity, as well as the diversity of embroidery at the Forty also brings this piece with the Magpie bird, although it can also appear in the explanation of the name. Finns removed Slavic named headdresses considered its name for a Magpie bird, harakka. If we take into account the abundance of bird names for women’s hats of different nationalities, then the origin of the name of all of these Headdresses except the Horned Kichko, is from the name of a bird. For all that, certainly as far as the origin of the name of a bird, the Russian kokoshnik is the name of the bird Magpie.

Of the horned Kichko, existence of such a crest and is the main distinctive feature of the Great Headdress known as: kokóshnik. The very name kokoshnik emphasizes its connection with the chicken comb. The Slavic word meaning kókosh is hen and rooster. Formed from the word * kokóshnik represents itself: chicken, apparently in the sense of – Fitted with chicken comb; another similarity with chickens in kokoshnik not. – If the magpie (more precisely: A Magpie) consists of a ridge of horns, the headdress had lost touch with the horns of origin. Inside the crest kokoshnik often hide braids on top of the head, and in this circumstance, you can see some similarities with the function of the crest features a horned Kibalko.

The main types of kokoshnik differ different positions of the ridge. The oldest type is necessary to recognize that, where straight comb sits across the head from ear to ear. In our opinion, the cut of this kokoshnik was created to be worn on more horned Kichko, two horns which stood up on end and were connected to the top of the gables; In other words, we see in this type of cross-linked kokoshnik magpie lingering here sometimes being tied in the back once again bring together this type kokoshnik with magpie. The antiquity of this type of headdress with one transverse ridge, evidenced by the fact that it is the most common type of kokoshnik; it is equally common and yuzhnovelikorussov, and severnovelikorussov; from his last borrowed, among other things, the Permian-Finns.

Eastern Slavs wore the two-horned female headdress and is best preserved. Of the two main varieties of this hat, one horn sticking straight up, and the two horned, they are addressed in recolonization of the ancients. Its horns were made from actual elk, moose or stag horns, later from bast, from wood or canvas tightly molded. Kichkos were often camouflaged usually with magpie but often the front of the cut out in the form of magpies horns were similar to the two cases for them.

Even covered with a magpie, Kichko produced a vivid impression of the horned headdress afer the 13th century, and this gave rise to some rural priests who kept the secrets of the previous grandmothers rituals, and sometimes even the church forbid women later to do their own rituals, so much so, that the peasant women had to change their horned Kichko into a hornless or simple scarf. Historical evidence of this kind of struggle against priests and landowners with horned womanish Kichko collected for the second half of the XIX century, was from the book DK Zelenin” Velikoruskie dialects “etc. (St. Petersburg. 1913, p. 71-72).

horned kitchko 2At the upper end of high horns of the Kichko sometimes hung behind a white silk light blanket (from the Don Cossack, the image Evl. Katelnikova beginning of XIX century., In his book “Historical svedenie of Upper Kurmoyarskoy village in 1818.” Novocherkassk, 1886). On the edge of the horns were put colored ribbons beams in the form of brushes and sometimes the tops horns were joined by a rope or stick, which had tied ribbons to it (Ryazan Province.). In his book: Istoriya or narrative about donskih kazakah. M. 1846, the Kichko had high horns of Nekrasovsky (Living Old, 1896); The Kichko was of gold brocade, with her ears down about suspension of silver chains with different pendants high horns thrown over a yellow silk transparent veil. Nekrasov Cossacks in the late 17th century.

Another variation of the horned Kichko has short horns and not facing up, and more or less straight back. This kind of horned Kichko is close to Kibalko as in cut, and especially on the function. It is natural to see the fusion of horns Kibalko. We tend to see this sort of horny Kichko a new kind head wear, with a more fashion and culture change, and began to wear the horns so they are not stuck up, and lay flat on top of the head and watched their sharp ends back more than upwards.

Kichko Horned Kichka Kika кика (головной убор) Headdress via Olga Vinnikov* Sources: Various paragraphs from different websites, wiki-russia, my own writings and Handmade Kokoshnik Dolls Charms “shamanochki” are made by Karakiske ( from the Republic of Altai Mountains; group photo of Kichko, Horned Kichka, Kika, кика (головной убор) headdress by Olga Vinnikov. The unmarked flat illustration is of the Forty from the Ryazan district is via the Archive Geographic Society.  Photo of Central Asia, a Saukele – Kazakh headdress via © Peter the Great’s Museum. 

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Asha Maria says:

    This was a fascinating article thank you. It also calls to mind the horned headresses popular in the medieval Western European fashions. (1400) Perhaps some lingering ancient memory of horned women’s rites.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks and yes you are probably correct!


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s