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Traditions of Russian arts and crafts go back to ancient times and are still alive today. In present-day Russia one can find more than 200 types of applied art and handicraft industries. The Matryoshka doll is perhaps one of the best-known works of Russian craftsmen.  It is brightly coloured on the outside and hides number of similar dolls inside, each smaller in size than the previous one.

Gzhel ceramics, named after the village of Gzhel in the Moscow region, is also popular and usually features an original blue and dark blue design on white glaze. Zhostovo trays are another famous design, named after village in the Moscow region. The metallic trays are covered with oil painting and coated over with lacquer featuring typically brightly coloured flowers and fruit against black background.  

Palekh, small town in the Ivanovo region, is famous for its miniature tempera painting on lacquered papier-mâché. Palekh boxes and caskets feature scenes from everyday life and fairy-tales, or historical and religious motifs painted in bright colours against a black background.  Khokhloma painting, named after village in the Nizhny Novgorod region graces wooden articles (spoons, tableware, furniture) with a red and black floral design against golden background.  

Dymkovo toys, named after district in the town of Vyatka are traditional clay statuettes that are baked, covered with tempera and decorated with tinsel.

In the post-Soviet period Russian craftsmen have updated some of the traditional handicraft designs to reflect new political and market trends. For example, the Matryoshka doll, that has traditionally presented n image of a blooming village woman, now has many new versions featuring similarly shaped wooden figures with faces of famous Russian and world politicians, while Palekh lacquered boxes have augmented their traditional fairy-tale motifs by including scenes that feature new Russians lifestyle, with the representatives of the new business class enjoying themselves in a sauna or on a tennis-court.  

 

 

 

 
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