About Anya Bowman
From Kiev to the Golden Gate

Let me just admit from the start that Halloween is my favorite American holiday. I loved costumes as a child, when I put on shows for my parents, I loved them as a teenager, when I hung out at SciFi conventions and RenFaires. As a college student I started attending Anime conventions and my friends and I won awards for our portrayal of anime characters, back before cosplay was cool and featured on SyFy channel. One of the key parts of cosplay is to portray a character exactly, down to the right hair shade and birth mark, mannerisms and all. After embracing this OCD part of cosplay I felt rather betrayed when I looked into "proper" RenFaire attire and finally realized that the "wench with boobs akimbo" was not in fact a historically correct peasant girl. So I created proper Elizabethan peasant kirtle, coife and chemise and roped my dear husband and friends into wearing appropriate things as well. Yet it felt sort of insincere and depressing to have put so much work into a historic period I didn't really care much about. Then at one RenFaire I ran into Russian lady in her glorious Muskovite costume, and was completely sold.

You see, I am not American, I am not even English - I am very proudly Russian. I hail from the fair city of Kiev, an ancient capital on the proud river Dniepr. And back from my childhood days I still remembered that the Vikings, or, rather, the Varangians and the Rus, had a great deal to do with making Kiev and the Slavic state of Kievan Rus a power to be reckoned with. The time of Kievan Rus holds a lot of historical romance for Russians, as it is the time before the Mongol Invasion, before Serfdom, the time of Fairy Tales, not unlike the Arthurian age is for England. So I decided that I would no longer portray any other cultures but my own. I have to say that it is a lot more fun and I have learned so much about my own heritage and the history of the Russian people in the process.

However, with learning comes also a need to share the knowledge I've gained. Joining up with Bjornstad for a year was a great experience, because I was not only able to portray the Viking culture that significantly influenced Russia and is at the core of Russia becoming the nation it is today, but learned so much about crafting and presentation from Jack and Ed and Doug and Kay and everyone else! I am very grateful to all the members of Bjornstad for giving me that one last push to join the reenactment world. In the two years I have been participating I've never regretted taking up this hobby.


Anya is a Research Assistant Professor in Molecular Biology

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