General Toptygin (Генерал Топтыгин). The bear in the "Tale of General Toptyigin" enjoys the status of a Russian folk legend. It was inspired by Nikolay Nekrasov (1821-1878), while watching children playing. The story goes that one evening, the General and his adjutant, who happened to be a fully-grown Russian dancing bear, were forced to abruptly seek shelter in a village inn because of inclement weather. Unfortunately, there was no room at the inn for them both. The bear would have to bunk in the stable with the horses. Miffed by this inconvenience, and not one to pass up an opportunity to bedevil the perpetrators of this slight, the bear took to the troika and rode all night about the village and created a frightful stir and howl.
The carvings from this period - late 20th century - are generally the work of merited Bogorodsk masters. The carving is firm and authoritative with deft strokes. The sleigh is enhanced with decorative motifs. The bear's mouth is open, as if emitting a mighty roar. It is unusual to find these carving painted and this one was probably done by a Russian artist during the mid-1990's. We rarely see painted ones. The troika's system has the center horse holding to a straight line while the two opposite pulling horses generate high speeds. In winter, a troika can go 35-40 mph. In this finely carved ensemble, the reins are made from genuine leather. Lime wood, paint. 8¼"x4½"x 13¼, 8" in height. 1 only, as shown.