Everyone in Russia knows what lapti (plural) are. Russian folk footwear Lapti (Bast shoes) are part of the national costume, national footwear. They are made of special fibers – from the bark of a tree, and quite adapted to the shape of the foot. Braided sandals, worn by peasant population not only of Russia, they were shoes for Finnish peoples, the Balts and the Slavs. It is believed that they are easy to make. Lapti have been used since prehistoric times: they were found in the excavations of Neolithic. In Russian and Belarusian villages lapti were worn even in the early 20 th century.
Lapti weaving was considered an easy job. No wonder there is a saying about the drunk man that he “does not weave bark” This means that a person is so drunk that can not do elementary thing.
Lapti were woven from bast, birch bark and leather straps. The most beautiful were considered lapti of elm bast, and the most shameful – from willow bark. Lapti from tala bark were called “shelyuzhniki” and from oak bark “duboviki” (oak is ‘dub’ in Russian). Lapti of hemp rope, tow were called chuni and worn in hot dry weather. In Kursk province lapti were made of straw, which were stronger, did not get wet and frozen.
In different regions lapti were weaved differently. Russian lapti feature a rounded toe, very low and high bumpers backdrop, on top of that made a hole for the Equi. The sole was made in two or three layers for strength. Ancient vyatichi and Novgorod Slavs preferred lapti bias binding of birch bark and lower bumpers.
Some braided lapti bast four (quadrangle), five strips of bast (pyateriki), the other six (Shesterikov) or seven (Semerikov). It was important both – to properly weave Lapti and to wear them. That’s what needed to do: 1. Wrap your feet in a linen footcloths. 2. Wear lapti. 3. Secure lapti with leather rope.