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Urusovo - Village Were Felt Boots are Made
January 10, 2015 17:45


Urusovo in Ardatovsky District of Mordovia is an ancient village, known since at least XVI century.

Urusovo residents belong to the Mordovian ethnic group of Erzya, another name of the village is Orozbiyo (Urus is a form of the Mordovian name Oroz, “biyo” means son or male).

The residents of Urusovo have been engaged in peasant labor for many centuries, just like today. In XIX century the traditional farming was supplemented by a craft which later became the key to the well-being of almost all local families.

Felt boots have been made in Urusovo for more than past one hundred and fifty years, and these boots are famous around the Volga region, and even across Russia.

The village consists of four hundred yards, and there is a felt maker in almost every family. Boots are traditionally made in autumn and winter, when agricultural works are finished.

The manufacture of one pair takes about three kilograms of sheep wool which has to be pre-processed, washed, pulled out, combed, put through hackling machine. Then the wool rug is transformed into a preliminary model of boots – a “stocking”. Thus the “dry felt-making” ends and the “wet felt-making” begins, the “stocking” is rolled and boiled in a cauldron, the tightened roll is taken out and, while it is hot, it is turned into a “boot” on the stocks with the help of special tools. Then the wool of the future felt boot has also to be strengthened and compacted. To do this, it is beaten with a toothed oak roller and a metal bar for several hours, pouring it with boiling water from time to time. Finally, the finished boot is dried for 24 hours, decorated with embroidery or appliqué.

According to its softness and smell one can judge about the quality of wool and the quality of processing, as well as about the skill of the felt-maker. Felt boots which are made properly and conscientiously are perfect ecological shoes, not only warm, but useful and comfortable for feet.

Felt boots were once ordered by Russian tsars, and today they are in demand among European “green” people, heat-loving Finns and local connoisseurs. The most famous customers include the head of Mordovia Vladimir Volkov and the King of Norway Harald V. The secrets of craft are strictly kept by each master - competitors wishing to find out the recipe of high-quality boots come in Urusovo nowadays.

Thanks to felt boots Urusovo has become a tourist attraction. Travelers go to the Museum of felt boots that opened in a room of a rural school in 2006. This is not the only museum of this kind in the country - there are two more of them, in Moscow and in Myshkin.

Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Urusovo Mordovia Felt Boots   

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