Welcome to the fancy world of Russian folk art and craftsmanship! Learn more about the fancy souvenirs, mind you, the valenki and shawls, fine as they are, are but a part of the whole.
Bast shoes are one of the most ancient types of footwear in Russia. They remained in daily use until the early 20th century. The Bast Shoe is a hero of popular fairy tales and is often mentioned in songs and four-line folk rhymes. The word ‘lapot’ (a bast shoe) is figuratively used as a term for simpletons and bumpkins.
Shawls have always been an integral part of Russian women’s clothing. In a festive attire and in everyday life women covered their heads with them. To go out with your head uncovered was considered indecent behavior. This tradition is still kept in Russian Orthodox churches, where women must cover their heads with a shawl or other headwear. The most expensive shawls are made of silk and wool, cheaper shawls are made of flax and hemp. Shawls were worn not only to stay warm or uphold traditions, but also as a wonderful, beautiful accessory. Women in Russia still love shawls very much, and modern designers draw ideas each year from the traditional Russian costume.
The Pavlovsky Posad school of the unique printed shawl painting is almost 200 years old. The history of this folk craft dates back to the same time.
The artisanry was established by Labazin in 1795, when he created a shawl factory. But it was long before the first original Pavlovsky Posad shawl was made. It saw the light of day at a factory in the town of Pavlovsky Posad established under the supervision of the merchants Yakov Labzin (a great-grandson of the manufacturer) and Vasily Gryaznov in the 1860s. Despite ferocious competition the enterprise grew and became richer.
Valenki – The original Russian footwear. However, it didn’t emerge in Russia as long ago as people think – it only emerged in the 18th century – but quickly gained popularity. It was invented in the Yroslavl and Nizhni Novgorod provinces, which were called pimy at that time. The handicraft received the name of pimokatstvo, the craftsmen were called katali and stiraly, according to their functions.