Armies move on their stomachs, they say, which may help explain why the Russian army forgot all about its soldiers’ feet for several hundred years.
Associated Press reported that Russia’s new defense minister recently realized the country’s soldiers have been using foot wraps since the 17th century and no one gave a second thought to this since.
Called “portyanki” in Russian, these rectangular strips of cloth are carefully wrapped around bare feet to prevent blisters from the soldiers’ tall, heavy, lace-less boots, the story says. I’ve seen these in movies, but never in person, and actually didn’t realize until now that these guys were using these instead of socks on purpose.
Czar Peter the Great evidently adopted the custom from the Dutch army in the late 17th century and then never looked back.
Now, though, this Russian official says “it’s time for the nation’s soldiers to switch from foot wraps to socks,” the story says.
The official, who took the post two months ago, reportedly said he was surprised to learn that some soldiers are still using “portyanki,” and told them to use socks instead.
At a televised meeting with military officers recently, he reportedly said, “In 2013, or at least by the end of 2013, we must forget the word portyanki.”
I suppose, if the wraps were considered the best alternative because of the lace-less boots, changing to socks would only be a better alternative if the boots have improved since the 17th century, which I suspect they have, though you never know.
Not earth-shattering information in any way, but interesting, I thought.
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