Russia in numbers and facts. Geography, territory, climate, Russian Federation, Political system, Population and language
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Works of Russian folk art can tell a lot about Russian national character, about the history of Russia, about the people's ideals of happiness and beauty. Most homecrafts came into being in ancient times and their roots are lying in the village mechanical arts. Nature itself told people both materials and themes. In the forest regions turning trade and wood engraving used to develop. In places where deposits of clay were found the art of fine ceramics appeared. In Northern regions of the European part of Russia where flax was grown there was the art of trimming with lace. The Urals - the place of deposit of iron ore - is famous for its cast-iron moulding and ornamenting arms.
There are lots of folk homecrafts: wood and bone carving, embroidery, painting on wood and metal, ceramics, prints, production of skin and fur. However subjects of world fame became only some of them - matreshkas, Khokhloma painting, Gzhel' ceramics, Palekh miniature, Zhostov trays, shawls of Pavtovo-Posad, Vologda lace, Dymkovo toy, painting of Gorodets, Kaslin cast-iron moulding.
Matreshka, the most popular Russian souvenir, is still rather «young», it is a little more than 100 years old. Its prototype is the Japanese sectional wooden doll of buddhistic sage Fukurumu. In only several years after it came into being matreshka was already exposed at the World exhibition in Paris where it got a medal and world fame. In Paris Kaslin mouldings were remarked either. A cast-iron cigarette-case had the same price there that a silver one equal in weight.
«Khokhloma» - painting on wood with golden, red and black paints
- appeared very long ago, in XVII century, and its technology has very little changed since then.
Palekh miniature appeared at the basis of ancient icon painting. In the 20s, in the period of «militant atheism» it did not die away but changed its form. Former masters of icon painting started making caskets, brooches and cigarette-cases painting the items in old technique but giving them another themes: scenes of Soviet everyday life, illustrations to folk tales, historical and literary plots.
Gorodets painting which appeared in the middle of XIX century discloses people's ideas of «good life». Beside flowers and animals Gorodets masters liked to depict walkings, tea-drinkings, celebrations etc. The heroes of these plots are well-to-do peasants, townsmen and merchants - gay, rich and foppishly dressed.
Nowadays all Russian people love and appreciate works of folk art. Almost in every house one can see a Kaslin statuette, a wooden spoon of Khokhloma; among children's toys there are certainly a matreshka and a painted pyramidion. One can often see collections of Gzhel, Khokhloma or Dymkovo toys.
Production of folk homecrafts are sold in all the tourist centers. Leaving Russia one cannot help taking home some folk work which will remind one of a huge country, of its kind and talented people.
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