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Kukarka Lace
October 29, 2009 15:55

Kukarka Lace (aka Vyatka Lace or Kirov Lace) is a type of traditional handmade bobbin weaving and one of the well-known folk Russian arts and crafts. The centre of Kukarka lace handicraft is the town of Sovetsk (formerly Kukarka Village of the Vyatka Province) in the Kirov Region. In its artistic significance, valuable folk traditions and creative finds of the recent times the handicraft is on a par with other lace-making centers.

The Kukarka (Vyatka) Lace is believed to have appeared in the early 18th century. Somewhat in the 1840s coupling lace from Veliki Ustyug (i.e. Vologda Lace) was brought there. Experienced handywomen managed to reproduce it. After mastering the filigree and pricked pattern for some time they started to vary the tracery on their own. In the second half of the 19th century lots of peasant women of Vyatka area were into this handicraft.

Kukarka lace found its market inside and outside of Vyatka Province. By the early 1870s Kukarka lace-making had outstripped the Vologda lace production in its amount and its handicraftswomen earned more than those in Vologda. Collars, ties, sleeves, kerchiefs, headscarves, pelerines, placemats, insertions for bed linen and other lace ware - the lacemakers mastered everything. They used linen threads and black silk threads for weaving the laces. The latter was meant mainly for the then popular triangle headscarves.

Kukarka lace was distributed by buyers-up. Local lace-making had no traditions of its own: its artistic style had no ground to stick to. The lace-makers had to adopt techniques and patterns from various traditions without adhering to any of them: it was now Yaroslavl, now Rostov, now Torzhok and now Yelets traceries. It was in Kukarka where the new coupling designs took roots, with their inclination to less conventional floral forms, on the one hand, and lighter forms, on the other one. The elements in them are connected not so much with lattice, but rather with twists of stems or flowery motives arranged in such a way to connect all the elements. So Kukarka lace stood out for the richness of those new designs and new technique devices. In particular, plain weave stripes are often intersected in it, creating entire chains of the looms of such folded stripes. Using this device, the background is filled, and escallops and flowers’ corollas are created.

The early 1890s saw the opening of Kukarka School for Lace-Makers (now Professional College 28), which dramatically promoted the development of the handicraft. From the late 1890s one after another, its seven branches were opened. The school provided excellent skills in weaving craftsmanship. The students were taught basics of drawing and composition. Lots of the school’s leavers later became good teachers working in other places also.

Before World War One the Kukarka lace was exported to several countries, such as England, Holland, Switzerland and the USA.

Modern Kirov lace artists create complicated pictorial works of brown and subdued colour threads in the technique of coupling lace.

In large items filigree is often applied to add special relief to the main design. Partly this is the influence of Vologda lace. However, lace-makers of the Kirov Region are persistent in finding unique decorative solutions.


Tags: Russian Arts and Crafts Russian Lace Kirov Region   

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