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Wooden Bogorodskoe Toys
July 22, 2009 20:37


Two wooden figurines, a man and a bear as two blacksmiths at work– once you pull the toy’s plank, they start hammering on the anvil in a funny way. These amusing toys, known in Russia for more than three centuries, have long become the main handicraft of the Bogorodskoe village, one of the most famous centres of wood carving tradition in Russia.

The old village of Bogorodskoe is located 25 km away from Sergiev Posad outside of Moscow. This very village is considered the centre for the wooden handicraft toy, though wooden toys have been popular all over Russia from times immemorial due to abundance of woods in the country.

There is a story that in the mid 17th century a peasant carved a toy of linden for his kids. When the children had played long enough with it, the father took it to a fair to sell. One of the merchants got interested in the toy and ordered the peasant a whole lot of suchlike toys.

But that is just a story, as for the facts, back in the 17th century the carving handicraft existed in the monastery of the Most Holy Trinity at Sergiev-Posad. This could not but influence the nearby villages, which adopted the toy handicraft. At first Bogorodskoe artisans made only separate parts and sent them to Sergiev Posad, where the toys were finally assembled. But soon the Bogorodskoe wooden toys came to be finished in the village itself.

The traditional Bogorodskoe toys are unpainted linden carved figurines of animals, birds, and people, including funny hussars and ladies, horsemen and dancers, woodcutters and musicians, or compositions from peasant life. Lots of these toys can move: smiths hammer, hens peck, a cat fishes, etc. the figurines are set in motion with the help of a simple implement – the details are attached with a thread to the inner plank with a weight ball hanging from it – once the plank is pulled, when you rock the toy circle-wise, the figurine comes alive. The symbol of this handicraft is still “the man with the bear” in various plot situations, with the moving toy “Blacksmiths” the first of them.

Bogorodskoe toys need linden wood, which is soft and pliable, and must be well dried in the open air. First of all the carver works on the linden blocks, chops or saws the blank of the future toy. Then it is shaped with a chisel and an extremely sharp Bogorodsky knife. Only afterwards the wooden wonder is sandpapered and lacquered. The toys can also be lathed: the details are turned on a lathe, then assembled and painted if necessary. It is very easy to say handwork from factory-made toys. Handicraft ensures elaborated tiny details, exact proportions and, certainly, adds to the charms of the toy. The prices will differ a lot, of course.

It is clear that handwork is much more complicated. The carvers work up the linden blocks with their own hands. Though the wood is pliable, one should take into account that most of the craftsmen in the Bogorodskoe manufacture are women. It is not only hard job, but risky as well: the tools are very sharp and cuts are a habitual matter for the masters; they just put a plaster on the wound and proceed to work.

Looking at those toys made with a good sense of humour and style, however, one can hardly remember about the tough work of making them. Good-natured bears holding hammers or carrying baskets of mushrooms, just like other characters, they all look fairy-tale and as though caught in movement, even if they are not movable. The figurines having nothing redundant in their style, some of them are real masterpieces of plastic art.

A Bogorodskoe toy will make not only an amusing artistic souvenir, but also a superb toy for a kid: it develops both hands and fancy, and is made of safe and healthy material. Fortunately, such toys have come down to us and can be purchased nowadays.

Sources:
    samoffar.ru
    igrushkin.ru


Tags: Folk Toys Wood Carving Bogorodskoye Russian Souvenirs  

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