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Khokhloma

by Anna Kazakova

Everything in the world has its own beginning and its own source. And the earlier the origin, the hazier and more mysterious it becomes; and nowadays we are more curious than ever to know this origin.

Once upon a time, an old man lived beyond the Volga River. Well known for being a skilled craftsman, this man made a beautiful log cabin, tableware and pots and pans with his own, bare hands.

This old man cooked porridge, and his porridge was the most delicious in the village. One day, while boiling grains he was seen by a Fire-bird and it came to him to taste these amber grains. It tapped the old man's magic bowl lightly with its wing, and the bowl became golden like the sun in a wink of an eye, and patterns of inconceivable beauty started appearing on the bowl.

Of course it is only a fairy-tale, but there is a reason/purpose behind every fairy-tale. If it wasn't for this fairytale, we would probably lack the priceless beauty of Khokhloma. Khokhloma is an ancient Russian trade village where Russian craftsmen brought their handmade wooden pots and pans to sell. This luminous tableware began to spread all over Russia; due to the name of this village all wooden tableware which resembles this florid, honey-hued aesthetic is now called Khokhloma.

In the days of old, people could not afford to buy festive tableware, especially in remote villages, which is why people made them themselves. This folk art prospered and flourished, as this wooden tableware started to ornament not only the huts of peasants, but also the palaces of tsars. Khokhloma ornamentation also began to be painted on everything from spinning-wheels, to furniture.

There are three main colours used in Khokhloma ornamentation: red, black and gold. Khokhloma articles are not just souvenirs or utensils; they are always festive and sumptuous, and every article is impressive in its unique pattern and play of colour. Khokhloma epitomises the most live, bright and fiery red colours of the Russian spirit. It also embodies the golden glance of buckwheat honey, the scarlet ash of berries, the emerald foliage, and autumn gold of Russia's landscape. Khokhloma patterns are highly symbolic in this regard, as flowers, berries, grass, and leaves signified a wealthy and happy life, since they bring good luck and love into a family.

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