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Russian Woodcarving Tradition, Part 1
March 30, 2015 19:04

The art of woodcarving has been known in Russia for ages. Village and town wooden houses in Old Russia were traditionally decorated with wood carved elements. They were made with the help of simple and available tools, such as an axe, a saw, and a carpenter's chisel. Over time carving tools were transformed and perfected. Special machines were invented to carve most complex patterns in wood.

House woodcarving as a type of folk art has come down to us, kept alive in rural areas of Russia. Geometrical carving rooted in traditions of carvers of distaffs, gingerbread boards, and various house utensils is considered to be the folk art handicraft of Vyatka (ancient name of Kirov city). Sophisticated volume woodcarving can be found not only in house elements, but also in expensive Vyatka furniture and in church iconostases.
Geometrical Woodcarving

Geometrical woodcarving is one of the most ancient types of woodcarving. It consists of numerous two-, three-, or four-sided carved hollows that all together make a pattern of geometrical figures, such as triangles, squares, and circles.
Geometrical woodcarving was extensively used to decorate log huts, iconostases and icon cases, all sorts of furniture (desktops, benches, cradles, chests, washstands hooks, etc.), chiselled ware (various bowls, ladles, saltcellars, trays, spoons, and jugs) and labor tools (distaffs, weaver's looms, gingerbread boards, etc).
Items decorated with skillful woodcarving were available in Vyatka markets in the 1920s. For a long time this ancient handicraft existed discretely. In the late 1930s handicraftsmen got together in teams. In 1947 the Victory team integrated 107 home-workers, with half of them engaged in woodwork. They carpeted caskets of various configurations, cases, and first-aid kit boxes adorned with geometrical woodcarving and wood painting.
In 1954 the team mastered manufacture of wood carved caskets with incrustation. The year 1955 saw enormous experimental work on combining several techniques (woodcarving, incrustation, pyrography and painting) in one piece. The patterns became more complicated, with landscape and architectural scenes of Moscow, Leningrad, and other cities introduced. In 1958 the Victory team carried out a large-scale order for the World Fair in Brussels. 
Woodcarvers learned to create richest patterns applied to ornament not only caskets, but a great variety of household items. Elaborate woodcarving, deep background, and large ornamental details concluded into a contoured frame are typical features of caskets made by the Ideal factory.
Natural materials, such as straw and ingrain birch bark were introduced to enrich the artistic image of wood carved items.



Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Folk Art Kirov Region Woodwork Arts and Crafts  

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