Ivan Karas and Odarka (Иван Карась и Одарка). Odarka defiantly takes issue with her Cossack husband, who perhaps has made a bit too much merry. Excellent details include the painted multi-color clothing and the modeling right down to the upside-down water jug on the fence post behind her. Older Kiev Experimental Art Ceramics Factory backstamp circa 1979. Original design by Vladislav Ivanovich Shcherbina. Set of two, each 10" tall. Excellent condition, no defects, no restoration, no broken pieces. Stamped in English for export. Book value for the pair runs about $200. Price is for the set.
The figures are titled: Zaporozhets za Dunayem (Запорожец за Дунаем, i.e., "Zaporozhian Cossack Beyond the Danube"). An alternate title is "Cossacks in Exile". Figures are based on a 19th century comic opera, which, in turn, is based on an historical event by Semyon Stepanovych Gulak-Artemovsky (Семен Степанович Гулак-Артемовський) (1813-1873). Gulak-Artemovsky was a Ukrainian opera composer and all-around musical talent who worked in Imperial Russia. The story is based on a historical event, namely, when the Zaporizhian Sich (Polity) was overwhelmed by the Russian army, the Zaporizhian Cossacks and their families headed across the Danube River to the Ottoman Empire (now part of Romania) and established the Danube.
A particular Cossack clan tried to adjust to their new home as well as deal with the eccentric behavior of an amorous Turkish Sultan, who is travelling incognito. Ivan Karas, an old Dnieper Cossack, strikes up a friendship with the Turkish Sultan, which results in the Sultan granting permission for all the "Cossacks beyond the Danube" to resettle on Imperial Russian land, back in Ukraine.
The Kiev Experimental Art Ceramics Factory (Kiev ECC) was founded in 1924 on the basis of a small workshop, which manufactured ceramic paints and decals. During World War II, the plant was destroyed but restored with the influx of capital investment. Mid-20th century found an expansion of the factory to manufacture decorative articles. Eventually the large art workshop became one of the best in the USSR at that time. Famous porcelain artists and sculptors that worked at the plant included O. L. Zhnikrup , V. I. Shcherbina , O. P. Rapay-Markish , G. M. Kaluga, A. D. Sorokin and many others. Also, Petrikov's painting on porcelain was introduced here for the first time. The fall of the USSR was not kind to these types of enterprises and eventually the factory ceased to exist. A collection of museum-quality pieces were to have been transferred to the State Museum of Decorative Ukrainian Art, but instead disappeared and presumed stolen.