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Tradition of Pottery Craft in Russia
November 27, 2013 23:11


When studying information on archeological finds of settlements, towns and burial grounds of the Old Russian state, one can see that most of such materials are presented with fragments of various clay vessels. They were used for storing water and food stocks and for cooking. Original clay pots accompanied the dead, and were ritually broken on funeral feasts.

The pottery craft took shape a little later than smithcraft. Along with a variety of clayware potters made bricks.
The pottery craft of the Old Russian state made an improbably long and difficult way of development. During the period from the 9th to the 10th century Russian dwellers used ceramics which was totally handmade. Initially only women were engaged in production of such earthenware. Pure clay was mixed with little shells, sand, and quartz or granite fragments. Broken ware splinters and different plants were sometimes used as additives. Thanks to these admixtures clay got viscous and strong, which made it possible for Russian masters to create clay vessels of various shape and size.
At the end of the 9th century an important technical improvement in the form of a pottery wheel came to be used in the south of the Old Russian state. Its distribution promoted a craft specialty separated from other work. Thus pottery passed from Russian women to male handicraftsmen. The most ancient pottery wheel was fixed on a wooden bench with a special opening that had an axis holding a big wooden wheel. The potter rotated the wheel with his left hand and started shaping clay with his right hand.

Improvement of the quality of ware and increased labor productivity by Russian handicraftsmen was related to introduction of the pottery wheel rotated with the help of feet. Masters from different regions of Old Russia made clayware of various shape.

On bottoms of numerous Russian vessels handicraftsmen imprinted special brand marks in the shape of triangles, crosses, squares, circles and other geometric patterns. Even images of keys and flowers were found on some pottery items. Different assumptions were made regarding the meaning of these signs. Some researchers attributed purely decorative value to them, while others saw them as religious symbols, but actually they are brands of masters.
In Old Russia the ready ceramics were burned in the ancient kilns that consisted of two separate layers. Firewood was burned in the bottom compartment, whereas the top was filled with clay vessels. The kiln was heated up to the temperature of approximately 1200 degrees.

Old Russian potters made a great variety of different vessels, among them thick pots for cooking in the stove, enormous pots for storing grains, mugs, milk jugs, frying pans, bowls, children’s toys and miniature ritual ware. Pottery was often decorated with ornaments made of dentils, circles and pits.
Art and abilities of Old Russian potters developed for centuries and therefore it reached the highest level.

Pottery on a par with metalwork was one of the most important crafts in Russia.
 

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Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Pottery Ceramics Russian Traditions Russian Folk Crafts  

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