Original Imperial Russian WWI Officer Papakha Kubanka Wool Hat with Cockade

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. The Russian Papakha (Russian: папа́ха), also known as astrakhan peruk in English, is a wool hat worn by men throughout the Caucasus and also in uniformed regiments in the region and beyond. The word papakha is of Turkic origin (papak). In Azerbaijani, papaq literally translates to hat.

There are two different Russian papakhas. One, called a papaha, is a high fur hat, usually made of karakul sheep skin. The hat has the general appearance of a cylinder with one open end, and is set upon the head in such a way as to have the brim touch the temples. Some of them come with ear flaps which can be folded up when not in use. The other called a kubanka, which is similar to the papaha, except shorter and with no ear flaps.

Papakha are very common in Armenia as well as other mountainous regions, where a man's hat is considered a very important part of his identity.In Georgia, papakhi are also mostly worn in mountainous regions of Pshavi, Khevi, Mtiuleti, and Tusheti. Papaq are also very common in Azerbaijan. Papakhi are also donned by the Chechens, Dagestanians, and other Caucasian tribes. In 1855, after the campaigns in the Caucasus Mountains, the Papakha was introduced in the Russian army as an official part of the uniform for the Cossacks, and later for the rest of the cavalry.

This is a genuine WWI Imperial Russian officer issue Papakha, offered in good condition in approximately a size 7 US (56cm). This is the simplified "kubanka" version, without the fold down side flaps. It features a blue top with a silver ribbon cross, and a silver and brass front cockade. These would identify the unit the officer was a member of. The exterior fleece is in good condition, with a nice gray and off white pattern.

The interior is lined with coarse linen type fabric, and has a leather sweatband around the bottom. The sweatband does look like it may be a war-time or post war replacement, and it was only tack stitched in, so it is now mostly detached from the papakha. There are Russian issue marking stamped on the inside of the helmet, however they are somewhat faded, so we are not able to read them.

Imperial Russian officer equipment, especially Cossack related is exceptionally hard to find. A very nice example, ready to research and display!

In the Russian Empire the Cossacks constituted 11 separate Cossack voiskos, settled along the frontiers: the Don Cossacks, Kuban Cossacks, Terek Cossacks, Astrakhan Cossacks, Ural Cossacks, Orenburg Cossacks, Siberian Cossacks, Semiryechensk Cossacks, Baikal Cossacks, Amur Cossacks, and Ussuri Cossacks. Also, there was a small number of the Cossacks in Krasnoyarsk and Irkutsk, who would form the Yenisey Cossack Host and Irkutsk Cossack regiment of the Ministry of the Interior in 1917. The stanitsa, or village formed the primary unit of this organization. Each stanitsa held its land as a commune, and might allow non-Cossacks (excepting Jews) to settle on this land for payment of a certain rent. The assembly of all householders in villages of less than 30 households, and of 30 elected men in villages having from 30 to 300 households (one from each 10 households in the more populous ones), constituted the village assembly. This assembly resembled the mir, but had wider attributes: it assessed the taxes, divided the land, took measures for the opening and support of schools, village grain-stores, communal cultivation, and so on, and elected its ataman (leader) and its judges, who settled all disputes up to an amount that the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica gives as "£10" (or above that sum with the consent of both sides).

All Cossack males had to perform military service for 20 years, beginning at the age of 18. They spent their first three years in the preliminary division, the next 12 in active service, and the last five years in the reserve. Every Cossack had to procure his own uniform, equipment and horse (if mounted), the government supplying only the arms.

Cossacks on active service were divided into three equal parts according to age, and only the first third (approximately age 18-26) normally performed active service, while the rest effectively functioned as reserves, based at home but bound to march out at short notice. The officers came from the military schools, in which all Cossack voiskos had their own vacancies, or were non-commissioned Cossack officers, with officers' grades. In return for this service the Cossacks received from the state considerable grants of land for each voisko separately.

In 1893 the Cossacks had a total population of 2,648,049 (including 1,331,470 women), and they owned nearly 146,500,000 acres (593,000 km²) of land, including 105,000,000 acres (425,000 km²) of arable land and 9,400,000 acres (38,000 km²) under forests. Each stanitsa controlled a share of the land, divided up at the rate of 81 acres (328,000 m²) per each soul, with special grants to officers (personal to some of them, in lieu of pensions), and leaving about one-third of the land as a reserve for the future. The income which the Cossack voiskos received from the lands (which they rented to different persons), also from various sources (trade patents, rents of shops, fisheries, permits for gold-digging, etc.), as also from the subsidies they received from the government (about £712,500 in 1893), went to cover all the expenses of state and local administration. They had, besides, a special reserve capital of about £2,600,000. Village taxes covered the expenditure of the village administration. Each voisko had a separate general administration, and administrative structures differed within the different voiskos. The central administration, at the Ministry of War, comprising representatives of each voisko, discussed the proposals of all new laws affecting the Cossacks.

In time of war the ten Cossack voiskos had to supply 890 mounted sotnias or squadrons (of 125 men each), 108 infantry sotnias or companies (also 125 men each), and 236 guns, representing 4267 officers and 177,100 men, with 170,695 horses. In time of peace they kept 314 squadrons, 54 infantry sotnias, and 20 batteries containing 108 guns (2574 officers, 60,532 men, 50,054 horses). Altogether, on the eve of World War I the Cossacks had 328,705 men ready to take up arms.

As a rule, popular education amongst the Cossacks stood at a higher level than in the remainder of Imperial Russia. They had more schools and a greater proportion of their children went to school. In addition to agriculture, which (with the exception of the Ussuri Cossacks) sufficed to supply their needs and usually to leave a certain surplus, they carried on extensive cattle and horse breeding, vine culture in the Caucasus, fishing on the Don, the Ural, and the Caspian Sea, hunting, beekeeping etc. The Cossacks mostly rented out rights to extract coal, gold and other minerals found on their territories to strangers, who also owned most factories.

The Tsarist authorities also introduced a military organization similar to that of the Cossacks into certain non-Cossack districts, which supplied a number of mounted infantry sotnias ("hundreds"). Their peace-footing on the eve of World War I comprised:

- Daghestan, six regular squadrons and three of militia.
- Kuban Circassians, one sotnia.
- Terek, eight sotnias.
- Kars, three sotnias.
- Batum, two infantry and one mounted sotnia.
- Turkomans, three sotnias.

In the Civil War that followed the Russian Revolution, the Cossacks found themselves on both sides of the conflict. Many officers and experienced Cossacks fought for the White Army, and some of the poorer ones joined the Red Army. Following the defeat of the White Army, a policy of Decossackization (Raskazachivaniye) took place on the surviving Cossacks and their homelands since they were viewed as a potential threat to the new regime. This involved dividing their territory amongst other divisions and giving it to new autonomous republics of minorities, and then actively encouraging settlement of these territories with those peoples, but there were also arrests and violent repressions. This policy of resettlement was especially true for the Terek Cossacks land. The Cossack homelands were often very fertile, and during the collectivisation campaign many Cossacks shared the fate of kulaks. The famine of 1933 hit the Don and Kuban territory the hardest. According to Michael Kort, "During 1919 and 1920, out of a population of approximately 3 million, the Bolshevik regime killed or deported an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 Cossacks". Including 45 thousand Terek Cossacks.

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