Since ancient times, bast shoes have been the main footwear of peasants. It is believed that the name of this shoe comes from the word "paw".
Weaved bast shoes from the bark of various trees, primarily linden. One pair of bast shoes required approximately three young linden trees between four and six years of age. It was this bast that was considered the best.
Weaving bast shoes was considered an easy job, but it required certain skills. They said that Peter the Great, who owned many crafts, could not make bast shoes. The emperor threw out the unfinished bast shoe and declared: "There is no craft wiser than the bast shoe." There was a legend that this bast shoe was kept in one of the museums of St. Petersburg.
It is interesting that the word "lapotnik" is found in the Laurentian Chronicle for 985.
The methods of weaving bast shoes were very diverse and in different regions had their own characteristics. Therefore, by the bast shoes it was possible to determine from which locality a person came.
There were masters of making bast shoes in every village, but this craft did not bring a lot of income. In the 19th century, one pair of bast shoes cost 3 kopecks. There was a saying in Russia: "Weave sandals - eat once a day."
For weaving bast shoes, wooden blocks and a special hook - kochedyk - were used. In one day, the master could make from two to ten pairs: everything depended on experience and skill.
Bast shoes were cheap and comfortable: in the winter bast shoes kept warm well and in the summer they gave the feet coolness. The only drawback was the short lifespan. On average, one pair of bast shoes was enough for a week.
It is interesting that the Swedes even had the term "bast mile", that is, the distance that can be covered in one pair of shoes.
Even during the Civil War, bast shoes were the main footwear of the Red Army soldiers. There was an Extraordinary Commission on felt boots and bast shoes (CHEKVALAP), which was engaged in the preparation of footwear for the military.
Every year in the city of Suzdal, Vladimir region, the Bast Shoes Festival is held, which attracts not only guests from Russia, but also numerous tourists from abroad. The main character of this holiday is bast shoes. They run one verst in bast shoes, play football, throw bast shoes at a distance, etc.