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Pottery 19-20 th cc.

The collection of  the 19th – 20th century  folk pottery in the Sergiev Posad Museum presents an interesting variety of  traditional articles.  It was formed during the  regular scientific expeditions organized by the  Museum staff to different parts of the country:  Vitebsk, Vladimir, Vologda, Vyatka, Kaluga, Nizhny Novgorod, Novgorod, St. Petersburg, Pskov, Ryazan, Smolensk, Tver, Yaroslavl and  Moscow regions. Pottery  was associated with the location of  high-quality clay.  In the 19th ,   Pottery  was usually made of  wide-spread   red,  of  lesser-used  grey  and blue  or of  rare white   clay.

Special skill  was required to make  large archaic forms:  large vessels  for grain, large  pots for  beer, jugs for  home-made drink, ewers,  deep  dough pots, different pots for cooking,  vessels for linseed oil, wash-basins, hollow ware, plates and frying pans.

In different areas they also made various lipped vessels: jugs for beer and kvass, milk buckets, pails, wide and low jelly and melted butter dishes, hanging wash-hands. There were  different  small vessels: milk jugs, twin pots with lids  to carry shchi (cabbage soup) and porridge to the field, pots for cooking cereals, various whistles.

Some vessels were for special purposes. Small pots for coliphia were used for forty days in obits. Small burning censers were placed at the head of the dead. They were also used to fume domestic animals on the first pasture day.   In small ritual jugs corn seeds, peas and apples were blessed on the Savior day. During the marriage ceremony a lot of pots were broken   in token of the bride’s chastity.

   Different areas developed their local characteristics and original techniques, despite the undeniable influence of Moscow - the main ceramic center of the Russian state since the 15th century. Red calcinated vessels with color glazing are remarkable for their perfect shapes. But especially beautiful are black vessels, shimmering with different shades of color. Many centers preserve a high level of red clay pottery. Large vessels clearly reveal the unique beauty of the material. They demonstrate a perfect unity of function and art quality.     

The decoration of the 19th  century pottery was  quite archaic both in technique and in patterns. The basic elements  of simple patterns, forming a single- or multi-row ornamental bands were dimples  stamped  with a pointed stick,  pricker, comb teeth or stamp. Free strokes of the stick left on soft wet clay wavy patterns, swirls, oblique incision, dentils.

The laconic graphic ornament of  rhythmical lines and  dimples suited the impressive shapes perfectly. In the 19th century,  simple yet laborious  glossing was less frequent. Simple cross, vertical and broken lines were imprinted with a rounded pebble before firing. Dark patterns shone beautifully on the burnt mat surface.


Widespread glazed pottery was in the greatest demand in the 19th century. It was coated with  low-melting lead glaze. The most popular yellow color was obtained from   iron or  lead oxide.  Deep brown and violet tints were  provided by  manganese and the most  unusual and varied green tones -   by  copper oxide.  

The iron ochre  was commonly  used for favorite reddish-brown glazing.  Monochrome glaze was  applied to unfired ceramic body, which was occasionally primed with a thin layer of  engobe  (white clay and quartz). Normally, clay vessels were seeped in glazing, poured over with it or  glazed with a brush.  The ceramic glazes were of  great artistic quality.  The uneven coloring (dark and thick tones or various light tints)  made ceramic articles quite original. The Museum collection  mainly  includes items decorated with  simple monochrome  patterns of wavy or broken lines, rings, peas, rosettes, stylized branches.

At the end of the 19th  century, the artistic level of  folk pottery declined. The competition with manufactured goods changed  the  line of  pottery.  There appeared imitations of  metal and porcelain shapes untypical of ceramics. They were commercially produced  in the village of Bogorodskoye and widely sold all over the Volga River area, up to Astrakhan.


  Some utility objects meet the requirements of the inhabitants of the steppe Volga and  Caspian sea regions.  Cheaper clay articles reproduced Oriental copper vessels. They were milk buckets with lids and long-neck flattened jugs. In the 1920s-1930s, numerous ordinary objects: tea-pots, kettles, mugs, jars, stew pans, deep trays, flasks, kerosene  flagons, etc.   The simple objects of everyday  peasant life, their various shapes and sizes reflect deep traditions of folk art.