Russian embroidered towels are sometimes called cloth scriptures. Recreating the lost world of pagan beliefs, northern Russian embroidery often features a female figure, believed to be a female deity of ancient Slavs, the great goddess Mokosh. Flanked by horses, birds or other creatures, the goddess raises her arms conferring blessings of good harvest and fertility upon the users and makers of ritual cloths.
The rendering of the goddess image can be highly abstract, ranging from angular and linear to soft and rounded. Towels with the goddess motif were often used during wedding rituals or draped over the icons of Christian deities and saints displayed in the household’s Red Corner. Russian peasants, who followed the Orthodox faith, nevertheless deemed it wise to revere ancestral spirits in order to secure help and protection in their daily needs.