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Russian folk art

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The tradition of the earthenware toys survived better in the 20th century than the traditions of other hand-made Russian toys. The Dymkovo settlement near the city of Kirov (formerly known as Vyatka) is the best-known center of earthenware toy production. The settlement is established in the 15th century by the citizens the Northern town of Veliky Ustyug who rebelled against Moscow domination and were established by the Tsar Ivan III to the remote regions. Some of them including many skilled craftsmen and toy makers moved to the place that was known the town of Khlynov at the time.

L.Falaleeva. "Turnip"

L.Falalyeva. "Turnip". 1966

    The toys-making trade was primarily promoted the needs of the local festival known as the “whistling celebration". There was a great demand during the festival for various whistles manufactured by the local craftsmen and shaped as figurines of birds, horses, and lambs. The festival is rooted in the pagan worship of Yarilo, the Slavic solar deity. Another ancient local festival stimulated the demand for toys included all kinds of popular entertainment such as community contests for fist fighters and making snowmen. In the 19th century such rural festivals were quite big affairs, they coincided with fairs and other trade events and continued for several days.
    The Dymkovo toys were shaped of the local red clay mixed with fine river sand to prevent cracking ring firing. First the massive base of a toy was shaped and then smaller fragments were attached to it (chest, arms, head, dress fringes, hair plaits, or hesad dresses).

Z.Penkina. "Emelya on the stove"

Z.Penkina. "Emelya on the stove". 1989

    The finished toys were dried for several days, fired for three - four hours, primed with chalk dissolved in buttermilk, and painted with tempera paints over the white background. (It is only the Dymkovo toy makers who "whitened" their products by immersing them into a suspension of chalk powder in milk.) When the primed toy was drying in a draught a casein film appeared the surface and fixed the chalk coating.
    The most ancient motifs of the Dymkovo toys are the animals and birds. However, the Dymkovo toy trade is famous primarily for the colorful figurines of proud noble ladies, fat merchant wives, elegant gentlemen, valiant hussars, and groups of figurines depicting scenes from the circus life and open-air markets. The charmingly lively and often funny characters of the toys graphically represent the everyday life of a small Russian town in the 19th century.
    The toy structure includes basically a bell-shaped skirt and a torso with attached small spherical head, bent arms, and diminutive children figures. The Dymkovo toys are painted in as many as a dozen colors, rather than two or three, typical for other Russian earthenware toys. They are adorned with distinctive ornaments of squares, stripes, circles, loops, or dots. In conclusion a toy is decorated with diamonds of gold leaf, which make it look extremely festive.

Z.Penkina. "Tea drinking"

Z.Penkina. "Tea drinking". 1995

    Modern Dymkovo toys include ancient motifs, as well as those of the second half of the 19th century, such as barynyas (or landladies), nyanki (or nannies), vodonoski (or female watercarriers) and others. In the 1930s, the Dymkovo toys began to depict fairy tales and contemporary lifestyle. There were also multi-character compositions on stands, figures of people taller than 30 cm and others. Massive, abtsract, and somewhat grotesque forms of the Dymkovo toys are emphasized by ruffles, puffed collars, and other features. Improvised bright painting of the toys represents a geometric ornament of cirles, checks, and dots of different colors and sizes. Dymkovo toys appeal to our contemporaries by their artistry, clear-cut characters, witty humor and optimism. These are the traits that make this original art superior to time.

Z.Penkina. "Emelya on the sledge"

Z.Penkina. "Emelya on the sledge". 1996


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L.Falalyeva. "Ivan the Fool on the pig"

Z.Penkina. "Ivan the Fool on the pig". 1999

L.Falaleeva."The roundeabout"

L.Falalyeva."The roundeabout". 1979

S.Koshkina. "The walk"

S.Koshkina. "The girl near to a well". 1997

S.Kochkina. "vzThe walk"

S.Koshkina. "The walk". 2001

S.Koshkina. "Wood-cutter"

S.Koshkina. "Wood-cutter" 1995

S.Koshkina."Turkey" S.Koshkina. "Turkey".  1998