Автор: Светлана Голицына​​​​​​​, педагог

What could a 10-year-old girl do 100 years ago do in Russia?

Our people have long said: "A small matter is better than a great idleness." This principle was strictly adhered to in the upbringing of children. By the age of ten, both boys and girls in peasant families were already becoming an independent "economic unit" and had many responsibilities.


Константин Маковский «Дети, бегущие от грозы» (1872)
Константин Маковский «Дети, бегущие от грозы» (1872)


Girls were taught very early to work, even earlier than boys. So, from the age of 5-6 they already had to be able to spin, help around the house and in the garden, in the care of younger brothers and sisters, for poultry and cattle.

By the age of 10, thanks to the "science" of moms, grandmothers and other older women in the family, they were moving to a new level of responsibility. A ten-year-old daughter was considered to be a fully grown-up girl with all the requirements to her. If friends and neighbors gave the adolescent girl a pejorative definition of "indirectness", this was a very bad characteristic, and afterwards she could not even count on a good groom.

How was the learning process built?

Exceptionally on a personal example: usually the mother in the process of home or field hassle showed and explained to her daughter how and what she does, then trusted her to perform a simpler part of the work. As the mastering of the necessary skills, the functional performed by the girl became more complicated. If in 5-6 years the small mistress should look after the chickens, then in 10-12 - already to drive the cow out on the pasture and milk it. This continuity and continuity of the process guaranteed high learning outcomes.

Did the teens rebel against this way of life? Of course no. On the one hand, labor skills, vaccinated from early childhood, allowed them to survive in rather difficult social realities, for good reason the proverb was formed: "With the craft you will pass the whole world - you will not be lost." And on the other - among the common people, the Christian tradition was very strong, and precisely in that part of it, as for the severe Old Testament. According to him, service to the father and mother was likened to the service of God, and the insult of parents and disobedience was equated with insulting the higher forces. Children of childhood were taught such concepts as filial / child duty, respect for old age, and the realization that the family is the most important thing in life, and any work for its benefit was respected.

"The economy of driving - not razmina mouth walk"

What specifically should have been able to rural girl to his decade? Its tasks were very diverse, despite the apparent simplicity of peasant life.

«Babiy Kut»

Харитон Платонов «Крестьянская девочка» (1876)
Харитон Платонов «Крестьянская девочка» (1876)


This is the "female kingdom" near the stove. Usually separated from the rest of the hut by a curtain, and a strong floor, without extreme need, tried not to go there. Moreover, the appearance of an outsider in a "woman’s corner" was equated with an insult. Here, the hostess spent most of her time: preparing food, maintaining order in the "dishwasher" (the closet where kitchen utensils were stored), on shelves along the walls, where there were milk crinches, clay and wooden bowls, salt shakers, cast iron, in wooden supplies with lids and in birch bark saunas, where the bulk products were stored. A ten-year-old girl actively helped her mother in all these troubles: she washed dishes, cleaned herself, she could cook simple but healthy peasant food herself.

Cleaning in the house

It was the responsibility of the teenage girl to keep the house clean. She had to sweep the floor, wash and clean the shops nailed to the walls and / or portable benches; shake and peel rugs; clean up the bed, shake it, change the beams, candles, clean the kerosene lamps. Often, ten-year-old girls themselves coped and with another responsibility - washing and rinsing the linen on the river, and then hanging it to dry. And if in the warm season it was more fun, then washing in the ice hole in the winter turned into a rather severe test.

Pestyunstvo

Алексей Венецианов «Первые шаги» (начало 1830-х)
Алексей Венецианов «Первые шаги» (начало 1830-х)

In large families, the "seeing" of older children for the younger ones was a harsh necessity, because parents worked hard and worked hard in the field. Therefore, a teenage girl could often be seen also at the cradle, which was attached to the ring to the central beam of the ceiling ("matica"). The elder sister, sitting on the bench, put her foot in a loop, swung the cradle, and she was engaged in needlework.

In addition to rocking the baby, by the age of 10, a small nanny could herself replicate it, make a nipple from chewed bread, feed from a horn. And, of course, to reassure the crying baby, entertain him with songs, "pistols" and jokes. If there was such a need, then in 10-12 years the girl could be given to nannies - "pestuni". During the summer period, she earned from three to five rubles - a sum, a considerable amount for a teenager. Sometimes, according to the agreement with the parents, they paid the nanny with "natural products": flour, potatoes, apples, other vegetables and fruits, cuts of cloth.

Weaving

A very important element of peasant culture. After all the cloth for clothes, towels, tablecloths and other household items the peasants did themselves, so it was called homespun. At first, the girl was taught to wind the threads with nets (birch bark tubules-coils), then - flap flax, and spin the tows (threads) from it. In the southern provinces they also scratched the wool. Usually all this was done for a long winter in a large "women’s» company.

Already at 5-7 the girl mastered the primary skills, and the father made her a personal spinning wheel or spindle - smaller than that of adults. By the way, it was believed that its own instrument is very important. You could not give your spinning wheel to your girlfriends - "sports", and you could not use someone else’s spinning wheels either, because "a good master works only with his own tool." Then the girl was trained to work at the weaving mill, and by the age of 10 many could already create a belt or a towel. The first "hand-maid" was necessarily left to a small master, and at the next stage she began to prepare her dowry.

Алексей Венецианов «Крестьянские дети в поле» (1810-е)
Алексей Венецианов «Крестьянские дети в поле» (1810-е)

In addition to the above, the girl at the age of 10 helped adults in the field: she knitted sheaves, collected spikelets, and reared hay. She also worked in the garden, could graze the cow, goat, geese, ducks; cleaned the dung and cleaned the cattle. In general, the teenage crisis flew by unnoticed, because the growing-up girl just did not have time for it. But the industrious assistant always received support and praise from the elders, who lived according to the principle "Not that daughter is native, that runs away from business, and that daughter is native, that is visible in all work."

However, one should not think that peasant children in Russia were completely deprived of ordinary children’s joys. The younger girls played rag dolls in "daughter-mothers", they themselves weaved braids for them, sewed out clothes and invented ornaments. By the way, it was believed that if a girl willingly plays with dolls, then she will be an excellent mistress and mother. Older girls gathered for gatherings, where they chatted, sang, knit, embroidered and sewed. All children, from young to old, were often sent to the forest to pick berries, mushrooms, herbs, brushwood, or to the river to fish. And this, too, was a fun adventure, which, at the same time, adapted them to adult responsibilities.

Read also What could a 14-year-old boy do 100 years ago in Russia?

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