General Toptygin (Генерал Топтыгин). The "Tale of General Toptyigin" is a Russian folk legend that was inspired by poet and writer Nikolay Nekrasov (1821-1878), while he was watching children at play. One winter evening, the General and his adjutant, a fully-grown and mature Russian dancing bear, are forced to stop abruptly and seek shelter at a village inn because of inclement weather. Unfortunately, they are told that there is no room at the inn for them both, and the bear must bunk in the stable with the horses. Miffed by this slight, and not one to pass up an opportunity to bedevil the perpetrators, the bear takes off in the troika and rides all night about the village and creating a frightful stir and howl.
This is a "pride of the workshop" piece. Large carvings from this period (1980-1990) are generally the work of merited Bogorodsk masters. The carving is firm and authoritative with deft strokes. The sleigh is enhanced with decorative motifs and the reins are made from genuine leather. The bear's mouth is open, as if emitting a mighty roar. Lime wood, late 20th century. About 17"x 10"x 8½".
A troika's system utilizes 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.