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Polkhov-Maidan Painting
September 29, 2009 13:35


Polkhov-Maidan painting is one of the youngest folk handicrafts of Russia. The most popular souvenirs are matryoshkas, Easter eggs, and decorative turned sculptures on themes of Russian folk tales and country life.

Polkhov-Maidan Settlement, one of the most famous centers of wood painting, is situated in Voznesenski District in the south of the Nizhni Novgorod Region. Polkhov-Maidan painting is one of the youngest folk handicrafts of Russia.

According to a local legend, the first lathe there was obtained by peasant Nikita Avdyukov, when following the war of 1812 the years of crop failures set in. The craft was rapidly developing, but first the dishes were only turned, and not painted. Some time later the craftsmen started to decorate their wooden items with pokerwork, and still later, in the early 20th century, aniline paints came to be used.

Maidan, as its dwellers call it, soon became popular with its bright and motley painted wooden toys, known as “maidan tararushki”. The assortment of these bright folk toys is varied: these are matryoshkas (nested dolls), penny whistle birds, little horses, toy dishes, mushroom moneyboxes, souvenir balalaikas, box-apples. Another part of painted wares is traditional Russian dishes: saltcellars, bowls, sugar bowls, cylinder vessels for granular products, caskets, and samovars. The most popular souvenirs are matryoshkas, Easter eggs, and decorative turned sculptures on themes of Russian folk tales and country life.

The rounded shape of Polkhov-Maidan toys is determined by their turning origin. And yet, the most important thing in those works is certainly the painting, which has its own harmony and attractiveness. Folk handicrafts have always been a family business. As a rule, men would prepare work pieces, and women would paint the ready articles.

The toys made of linden or aspen are turned on a lathe, and then covered with liquid potato starch. Polkhov-Madian painting is special. Every detail of the headgear (1), (2) and sarafan (Russian pinafore dress) of matryoshka is painted separately. First the patterns are outlined in ink, and then are filled with colours. The traditional device of Maidan painting is this outlining and use of bright aniline paints. The local toys can be recognized by typical combinations of four basic colours: dark blue, green, red and yellow, which are mixed to get necessary tints. The light wooden background of toys’ surface gives the fifth colour.

The Maidan matryoshka is traditionally wearing a painted kerchief with a big flower; besides, it differs from Semyonov or Sergiev-Posad toys with a smoother contour and slightly prolonged proportions.

Abstractedly depicted flowers alternate with orange patches and green patterns outlined in black ink. The painters mainly use two types of patterns: landscape motifs and floral ornaments. The floral ornament is rather steady – it is the so-called “rose”, which has been repeatedly simplified and complicated in the period of its existence. Indispensable is also a branch of apples or strawberry with alternating green and dark blue leaves.

The original brightly painted toys and souvenirs made by masters of Polkhov-Maidan, be it matryoshkas, mushroom moneyboxes, or various wooden dishes, enjoy deservedly wide popularity in Russia and abroad.

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Tags: Russian Arts and Crafts Russian Wood Painting Matryoshka Balalaika Russian Souvenirs 

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