Reminded of Russia by snowy environments, fur coats, hats and chapkas, ancient history, uniquely structured places of worship, long-legged women and a toast of vodka are you? But it is different for me, who has had the pleasure to travel around the world, including Russia and Belarus. I would say that there are certain things that inspire and remind me of the vast country and its people. Whilst in Russia, I was mighty impressed by the Russian hospitality and Russian culture. Not to forget the local customs and traditions that I progressively fell in love with. Oh and the activity I loved to do the most was shopping. Russia is known for its handicrafts, viz.; lacquer boxes, Russian dolls, icon painting, the list is endless.
These lacquer boxes are indeed deeply dipped in Russian flavor and are a major influence to the culture and gained prominence during the communist era. However, skilled artisans who used to handcraft these had to face tough times during the communist regime as they were not allowed to depict religious symbols.
Today among other influences, the lacquer miniature paintings are inspired by popular towns and villages north of Moscow like Fedoskino, Palekh, Kholui, and Mstera. Every image on these boxes and miniatures are thematic representations of Russian lifestyle, people, history, fairy tales and folk tales. In fact the handmade ones are so unique that that each one is different from the other.
Basically, these boxes are nothing but objects made up of paper-mache and are popularly used as bead boxes, treasure boxes, caskets and powder boxes. Fine lines of gold and silver; ornament the immaculate paintings on these boxes. I have personally purchased a dozen of lacquer boxes myself and currently use them as my jewelry boxes and pen boxes. Some are so beautiful that I have preserved them away in showcases as a souvenir of my visit to this culturally blessed nation.
Another art form that is an immediate eye-catcher and is no news to most of us is the Russian nesting doll. Traditionally known as the Matryoshka, these dolls symbolize eternal motherhood. Figurines representing the Russian peasant woman are made in perfect symmetry and fit one inside the other.
It is interesting these days the way artisans try and bring innovation in the designs. In fact today these dolls are representative of everything from politicians and pop artists to even cartoon characters. A collection of these heavenly looking Russian dolls jewels my home décor and never seems to cease to be the center of attraction during in-house parties and events.