Friday, October 15, 2010

Russia - "Chohloma"

Costume, styled in "CHOHLOMA".

Sent by Dasha and Kostja, postcrossers from Saint Petersburg in Russia.

This is from Wikipedia : Khokhloma or Khokhloma painting (Хохлома, Хохломская роспись in Russian, or Khokhlomskaya rospis') is the name of a Russian wood painting handicraft, known for its vivid flower patterns, red and gold colors over the black background, and the distinctive effect on the cheap and light wooden tableware or furniture, making it look heavier, metal-like and glamourous.

It first appeared in the second half of the 17th century in today's Koverninsky District of the Nizhny Novgorod Oblast. The handcraft was named after a trade settlement Khokhloma in the same oblast, where craftsmen had been known for making and selling their handmade goods between the 18th and early 20th centuries. For the first time the making of khokhloma was mentioned in 1659 in the letter of boyar called Morozov to his bailiff, containing an order for the following: "One hundred painted dishes polished with powdered tin, both large and medium, of the very same kind possessed by us earlier, not forgetting twenty large painted wine bowls, twenty medium and twenty somewhat smaller".

The handicraft owes its origin to the Old Believers, who, fleeing from persecutions of officials, took refuge in local woods. Even earlier, however, local villagers had experience making tableware from soft sorts of wood. Among the schismatics there were icon-painters, who taught local craftsmen this painting technology.

An original technique of painting wood in a goldish color without applicating real gold is typical for the Khokhloma, a remarkable ingenious invention of Russian craftsmen. Articles carved out of wood (tableware, mostly) were usually primed with clay mortar, raw linseed oil and tin powder (nowadays, aluminum). A floral pattern was then painted on top of this coating with a brush. After that, the articles were coated with linseed oil (nowadays, synthetic oil) and hardened in a kiln at high temperatures. A combination of red, black and gold are typical colors for the Khokhloma. There are two principal wood painting techniques used in the Khokhloma, such as the so-called "superficial technique" (red and black colors over the goldish one) and the "background technique" (a goldish silhouette-like design over the colored background).

The Khokhloma handcraft seemed to be fading away in the early 20th century, but it revitalized during the Soviet times. The Khokhloma craftsmen united into artels in the 1920s - early 1930s. In the 1960s, the Soviets built a factory called the Khokhloma Painter near the Khokhloma village and an industrial association called the Khokhloma Painting in a town of Semyonov. These two factories have become the Khokhloma centers of Russia and produce tableware, utensils (mostly spoons), furniture, souvenirs etc.

Unique works of Khoklhoma art can be seen in a Khokloma Museum that was open in the factory of Semyonov in 1972. Among them there is a huge Khokloma spoon 2 meters and 67 cm large and a bowl one and a half meter large.

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