Posted by Olga Shukin and The Russian Gift Shop on May 11, 2015
The fundamental aspect of Russian toys is that they are uncomplicated and profound. The subject matter is lucid and laconic, just like Russian proverbs. Both express a joy of, and in, life. Decoration is modest and simple. Russian folk sculptures are imbued with mild humor and optimism. Predators are meek and endearing, such as crocodiles that play the balalaika or other musical instruments, bears that are also musicians or that play chess, lions that are like kittens, etc.
Another aspect of Russian toys are there are no houses to assemble with furnishings and utensils. Hunting toys, and especially war toys or games, were seldom made, if at all, as were popular in Poland, Italy and England, and in the US.
A wonderful, little-known book Russian Folk-Style Figurines: A Collector's Notes (Gennadi Blinov ) gives us examples of carved folk figures, including bird houses, whistles, rattles, straw dolls, horses, weather vanes, painted clay pottery, birch bark and willow rods toys, and much more! A collector with a keen eye, Blinov set about documenting Russia's folk sculpture before it gets erased. He describes toy-making techniques in various parts of Russia from Dymkovo to Lipetsk, Polkhovksy-Maidan to Gorokhovets. This handbook is the fruit of many years of effort. Available from us at the bargain price of $9.95.
All prices are in USD.