Painted Souvenirs


Zhostovo – Zhostovo artisanry consists of artistic painting of metal trays. It emerged in the Urals two hundred years ago. The production of trays began in Zhostovo, Novoseltsevo and other villages near Moscow only in the second half of the 19th century. Nowadays, production is based in Nizhny Tagil and near Moscow, in the village of Zhostovo. The trays are manufactured from iron sheets. They come in different forms: octagonal, oval, rectangular…. the forged products are primed and covered with a ground coat, they are then polished and varnished and finally painted with oil paints.


Rostov Finift Finift is the name for artistic enamel. The handicraft in Rostov is more than two hundred years old. It has been developing since the late 18th century. Despite all the problems that the enterprise had to go through in the post-revolutionary period and during perestroika, it maintains its traditions to this day.

The factory produces not only painted enamel, but also cloisonne enamel, which gives the product its special, fascinating brilliance.


Fedoskino - This artisan center dates back more than two hundred years, with its founding traditionally tied to 1795. What’s unique, is that the factory in the village of Danilkino was organized by a merchant, Korobov, and was dedicated to the production of lacquered visors for military headgear. They switched to the production and painting of papier-mache jewel-boxes just three years later, as the demand for snuffboxes soared (snuffing tobacco had just come into vogue). Korobov refused to settle with just gluing pictures on his snuffboxes and hired some craftsmen at Shtobswasser’s factory in Braunschweig, Germany, to create original images for his products. 


Palekh painting dates back to the 16th century. Palekh was initially famous for its icon painting art. After the revolution icons somewhat fell into disuse, and the artisanry switched to painting on wood, very similar to the art used to paint icons. The hand painting of papier-mache jewel boxes in Palekh started a little later.

Palekh lacquer miniature is painted on papier-mache by tempera, a traditional technique for icon painting. The proportions of the figures are elongated, images are thin and smooth. The main painting colors are red, green and yellow on a black or very dark background. Another feature of the painting is the abundance of gold and gold colored shading.


Like craftsmen from Palekh, Mstera artists were originally engaged in iconography, as well as the restoration of the frescoes in churches and wall painting. By the middle of the 18th century they began to create icons of "the fine painting" with a lot of small, carefully rendered details. The craftsmen started to paint jewel boxes and papier-mache boxes after the revolution, in 1931.

Mstera lacquer miniature painting is influenced by the traditions of Old Believers’ icon painting, folk art, and Persian paintings. The work is performed on white paint with a variety of colors, pleasing your eyes with amazing color transitions, and with a stunning ornamental frame. The completed miniature is covered with six layers of lacquer. The jewel boxes are mostly rectangular.


he history of the lacquer painting in the village of Kholui closely resembles the story of Mstera and Palekh. Since ancient times, the village was a center of icon painting, but after the 1917 revolution, its craftsmen had to find a new use for their talents.

Kholui is home to lacquer painting on papier-mache since 1934. Kholui painting borrowed a lot from Fedoskino, including realistic images and the softness of the painting.

But there are some distinctive features of Kholui painting. The background can be black, bright red, cherry, or emerald green. It is painted with tempera paints, and diluted in an egg emulsion, using an ancient method of plav’ (liquid drawing with a thin layer of paint, applied over all elements of the composition). Design patterns are widely used.

Semenovo Painting

Semenovo Painting. Everyone is familiar with Russian Matryoshka, an eye catching, fun toy with a whole family hiding inside. The manufacturing and painting of this toy evolved in Semenovo early in the XX century. Today the whole factory of "Semenovskaya Painting" is involved in this handicraft. First Semyonovo Matryoshka was not a red-cheeked girl, but a handsome little muzhik - bald, round-faced, and whiskered. The little muzhik was made by a wood turner, Averyan Vagyn, from the village of Merinovo. The style of painting of matryoshkas, still in use today, evolved later.

Bright aniline pigments of red, blue and yellow colors are used. The finished painting is colored with varnish. A Semenovo Matryoshka necessarily has a flowered apron, a bright scarf or shawl on her head, a skirt, and puffed sleeves. Semenovo Matryoshkas are high occupancy toys. There can be up to twenty (or even more) smaller dolls inside. It was in Semenovo where the biggest Matryoshka was created - a set of 72 pieces of painted beautiful girls!

Khokhloma painting

Khokhloma painting is stunningly bright, beautiful, and is characterized by golden luster. The handicraft evolved in the XVII century, not far from Nizhny Novgorod.

Khokhloma craftsmen used to paint wooden utensils and furniture. By some account, the Old Believers actively participated in the creation of the handicraft. In those days they lived in the Novgorod Province. According to another version of the story, painting on wooden products with the use of tin powder was known in large handicraft villages, such as Semenovskoye and Lyskovo, even before the Old Believers. The mentioned village of Semenovskoye has long since become a city. The city of Semenov is one of the major centers of Khokhloma painting.

Gorodets painting

Gorodets painting has been practiced since the XIX century, according to some sources - from the beginning of the century, and  to others – from the middle. The handicraft emerged near the town of Gorodets as decoration for spinning wheels– both the comb and the base (the bench on which a spinner sits). Initially the work was carried out using an incrustation technique. Figures of animals or birds were inserted in specially carved slots. The figures were made from dark wood, making the product’s surface textured. They were later tinctured in blue, yellow, green and red colors. The incrustation technology was finally considered too time-consuming to meet the increasing demand for the product, and it was decided to just use beautiful painting.