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Kargopol Clay Toys
July 30, 2009 19:44


The Kargopol toy is one of the traditional Russian arts and crafts, which is spread in the town of Kargopol of the Arkhangelsk Region, the North of Russia. From long ago lots of dwellers of the town and its suburbs were into pottery and making clay toys.

In the early 1930s, which was a hard time in the history of Soviet Russia, the pottery trade gradually decayed, and toy making had nearly stopped even earlier. Only a handful of masters went on with them.

The earliest of the preserved Kargopol toys are works by I.V. and E.A. Druzhinins, who worked in the 1930-40s. These are mainly single figurines of muzhiks and ladies, painted with slaked lime, cinder and colour clays. They are somewhat roughly sculpted, with their flat faces and generalized details of the figure and clothes making them allude to ancient stone images. The painting patterns include ovals, circles, crosses, and patches, also reminiscent of ancient ornamental motifs.

As compared to bright and clear-coloured Filimonovo and Dymkovo toys, these figurines from the northern lands of Russia might seem pretty stern. However, this first impression is only due to the palette including black, dark-yellow and brown colours. As for the toys’ subject matter, they have lots of amusing images, sculpted plainly but with great warmth and folk wit. People are depicted not without psychological description, and so the viewer can envisage the ways of life and manners of the local people (Man Watering a Horse, Man Sowing, Man with a Basket of Mushrooms, etc.)

The Kargopol toy also has compositions of several figures, such as a merry troika (coach-and-three) with passengers in the sledge, dancing figures, and boating figures, and many other scenes, observed by masters to the point. Kargopol craftsmen also liked to depict animals, as well as plots from folk tales.

The toys are sculpted part by part. The basis of the figurine is the trunk, which is together with the head fixed to the pre-shaped skirt. For men’s figures cylinder-shaped legs and arms are fastened to. The modeled items are dried for a week or two and then baked in a stove. The toys are painted with tempera.

The Kargopol toy is characteristic of conditional interpretation of an image’s shape, proportions and colouring. All the figurines are a little stocky, with short arms and legs, an oblong trunk, a thick and short neck and a rather big head. As for animals, they are depicted thick-legged and sometimes dynamic.

The modern Kargopol toy is less archaic. Preserving traditional forms, masters nowadays make it more refined, sometimes more clearly accentuating details, and lavishly paint it in oil and tempera; they, however, avoid making it too motley. To enliven the toys artists now add yellow, blue and orange colours. The main ornamental elements are combinations of crossed lines, circles, leafless twigs, herring-bones, dots and stripes.

Apart from figurines of people Kargopol masters mold horses, cows, bears, deer, and characters of tales and bylinas (Russian heroic epics). One of the most popular characters was and still is the Polkan (the Russian version of Centaur) – half-horse and half-man – with a beard, medals and epaulets. Other fairy characters include the Lion, the Sirin Bird, a two-headed horse, etc.

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Sources:
    pogodki.narod.ru
     wiki


Tags: Ceramics Folk Toys Clay Toys Russian Souvenirs  

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