Rus pants

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Characteristic of eastern vikings, large silken "Rus pants" should be worn as part of a consistent eastern set of kit, which may also include a birka coat or kaftan, a chimney pot helmet, and other eastern items. A less exaggerated pair of baggy trousers may be suitable for other Viking characters.



Two middle-eastern sources mention the Rus wearing extremely large trousers. Hudud al-'Alam, an anonymous tenth century Persian geography, describes how "Out of 100 cubits (gaz) of cotton fabric (karbās), more or less, they sew trousers which they put on (andar pūshand), tucking them up above the knee (bar sar-i zānū gird karda dārand)."Trans. V. Minorsky. Another tenth century Persian, Ahmad ibn Rustah, gives a similar description.


Image of warriors in baggy Rus trousers from the Larbro stone on Gotland
Silver figurine with baggy trousers from Uppäkra, Sweden

There are a number of carvings that seem to show baggy trousers of the sort described by the middle eastern geographers. These include several of the picture stones peculiar to Gotland, as well as in the Oseberg Tapestry, and a silver figurine from Uppäkra.

These generally support the statement of the writers that the Rus pants should be gathered at the knee. They are not ankle-length harem pants!

Possible finds

Woollen caulking rags found at Hedeby have been identified as potentially the seat of a pair of baggy trousers. They are a similar combination of gusset and seat pieces to the Thorsjberg leggings, and show signs of pleating. They were multi-coloured in yellow and red, and seem to have been double layered or lined - which could be a step towards using an entire 100 ells (an 'ell' measuring c.18", ie 4.5m of fabric to a pair of trousers), and could mirror the construction of similar-looking plunderhosen in renaissance Germay.

The remains of short trousers found at Birka, appear to be of linen or linen lined, with metal clothing hooks at the lower edge and may have been baggy. This could suggest that rather than long trousers, closely fitting below the knee (as commonly seen worn by reenactors), rus pants should end with a gathering just below the knee, as seen in some scandinavian museum reconstructions. This might correspond with Ibn Fadlan's description of the Rus chief dressed in trousers and stockings.


Any of the usual fabrics can be used for Rus trousers. The Persian sources are variously translated as cotton and fine linen, and it has also been suggested that big trousers could be a way of moving silk around for trade purposes without appearing to do so - by wearing it. Meanwhile, the Hedeby fragments are woollen.

That said, the amount of fabric used means that it must be of a fairly fine weave, both in order to hang properly and so that they are not too heavy to wear comfortably.

Illustration of Rus warriors from the Tängelgårda I stone on Gotland

They may be a single colour, or multi-coloured. The vertical stripes in some illustrations may equally indicate folds of fabric, or alternating colours. The Hedeby fragment appears to have been one colour at the front, the other to the rear. Using more than two colours, however, is probably unwise.


There are lots of patterns on the internet. We hope to provide a preferred pattern in due course, as those in general circulation tend to oversimplify.

In the meantime, remember to make them nice and voluminous above the knee, and close fitting below, and ending at the knee is not ruled out so long as you have appropriate other coverings for the lower leg.