Slavic bast shoes – Lapti

Bast shoes (lapti) were known mainly among the Eastern Slavs. They have been used in a variety of ceremonies and rituals. Water from bast shoes was given to a woman in labor to facilitate childbirth. Before the wedding in the southern Russian regions, the groom personally wove holiday bast shoes for his chosen one. Bast shoes could be a wedding gift to the bride or a gift to a girl in matchmaking (if she accepted them, this was a sign of agreement).

Bast shoes woven in a special way were put on the dead. Slavs believed that these shoes protect from evil spirits and prevent deceased from turning into a vampire. Even when Slavs no longer wore bast shoes in everyday life, they still preferred to put them on the deceased, instead of boots – because boots had “a lot of iron”, which would make it hard for a deceased to walk in the “other world”.

Ukrainians and Belarusians destroyed old bast shoes in Kupala bonfires along with other old utensils. And in the Bryansk region, on Kupala night, people hung bast shoes on a high pole and burned the entire structure while singing Kupala songs.

Do you see bast shoes are being used in our time anywhere outside of the museums?

To be continued…