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  • Solovetskie Islands

    A gem of the White Sea area. It was founded more than 5 centuries
    ago by monks Zosima, German and Savvatiy.

  • Kiy Island

    This is a masterpiece of northern nature. In the small territory of the
    island one can see diversity of northern landscapes - granite rocks of
    many meters, small lakes hidden in the central part of the island.

  • Museum "Malye Korely"

    It is not just a museum of Pomor heritage. It is unique combination
    of landscape, monuments and folk art.

  • Pinega

    This is a place of amazing karstic caves that is a wonder created
    by nature. Underground karstic Pinega cave systems are the longest
    and the most numerous in Europe.

  • Nenetskiy Automnoumous Region

    Ethnic cultural tourism is developing rapidly. Visitors have a unique
    opportunity to observe everyday life of native peoples of the north.

  • Arkhangelsk

    The first seaport of Russia, "Gate to the Arctic", the capital
    of Pomorie, city of angels. What a rich variety of names
    for Arkhangelsk. This is the administrative center of the Arkhangelsk
    Region.

  • Novaya Zemlya

    The largest archipelago in European Arctic region. 25 percent
    of its terrotory is covered with glacial ice. There is a national park
    "The Russian Arctic".

Home / About the Arkhangelsk Region /
Pomor handcrafts

CHIP BIRD OF HAPPINESS

From ancient times a bird is believed to be a symbol of connection between the ground and the sky, between the human and the God. A bird is called a guide of a soul.

In pagan mythology we can read about a duck (utitsa). According to the legend a duck extracted the earth from a bottom of the original ocean. It helped to create solid earth.

A flying bird reminds the Sun which is a pagan symbol of vivifying commencement. Christian mythology affirms that a symbol of the holy spirit is a dove. A dove approached the Virgin Mary on the day of annunciation. A dove, the holy spirit descends from heaven during the Feast of Theophany.

Therefore a chip wooden bird that people started making in Rus more than 300 years ago gained shape of a pigeon.

Chip bird apparently became side handicraft of shipbuilding. It is made of ship pine tree. To be more precise it is made of butt of a tree (three meters above the ground) - a part of a tree without branches. Arkhangelsk and Voronezh dispute about leadership in Russian fleet. But exactly in Arkhangelsk the first ship "the Saint Pavel" came off the stocks. It was constructed 6 years earlier than a ship "The God's Foresight" in Voronyezh. Time difference is not significant, but apparently laborous Peter the First decided not to waste money on teaching people from Voronyezh in Holland and resettled experts from Arkhangelsk to Voronyezh (area of the Shipov forest). They had already managed to have a course in Amsterdam school. The first thing resettlers did in a new place was hanging an amulet in a log hut. It was Bird of Happiness. It was them who tought locals secrets of making a miracle bird.

This bird is believed to bring joy. Once people suspended a bird as a family totem and amulet in a front so called red corner of a room where a dinner table was. In the evenings people put a samovar on it (A metal urn with a spigot, used to boil water for tea and traditionally having a chimney and heated by coals) and all of a sudden a fretted bird started to revolve grandly on its axis. It slowly rotated under a table looking at all corners of a log hut as if it checked if everything is fine, everybody is at home and if there is anything to distract family harmony.

Church also treats a wooden bird favorably. They suspend it in cathedrals over the gates of paradise. The body of a bird reminds a cross which is a biblical symbol. A bar is used to carve a body and a head, another one is used to make wings.

The most important task is to split bars into thin chips. The thinner chips the more laced bird. Bars are joined. Then feathers are spread. It is structure of wood that bends wings and tail fancifully. Traditionally a chip bird is not painted and varnished over because exactly live wood has good influence on human health. In the course of time it gets bronze color. Mythical bird looks nice in any house. Light makes its flying more fascinating. Rays come through the thinnest feathers casting fanciful shadows.

These days a chip bird is made of pine tree. Vivifying energy of clean pine tree, warmth of master's hands and good spirit will be definitely passed people who wil host this bird.

Now there is no need to try to catch your bird of joy. You can simply get it from a master, bring it home and tame it.

BIRCH BARK CONTAINERS

Items made of upper birch bark have been known since ancient times. Productions of these items is believed to be one of the most ancient handicrafts and considered to be original Russian handicraft. Upper birch bark consists of thin semitransparent smooth white, yellowish and reddish layers that are easily splitted. Upper birch bark has a number of properties that makes it possible to use this material in different fields. It includes plasticity, low specific gravity, bactericidalness, absorbentness, dampproofing and thermal insulation. It is important that upper birch bark is available and easy to work with. Upper birch bark was used to protect houses from cold weather, decaying and moisture. Upper birch bark was used to cover boats. Floats and other fishing accessories were made of birch bark. Footwear, kitchen utensils, toys and many other things were made of upper birch bark. Nowadays tar is made of dry distilld upper birch bark. Birch charters that survived are the most ancient monuments of Slavic culture. Art of creative work with upper birch bark was highly developed in the Russian North.
Birch bark container is a traditional cylindrical vessel. Two or three layers of birch bark protect food (mushrooms, berries, fish) from heating. Once people carried kvas and milk in birch bark containers while haymowing. Liquid remained cool when it was very hot. Salt mushrooms and sourkraut were kept in birch bark containers. It was also used to deliver water, keep cloudberries, cranberries, honey and sour cream. These vessels are firm and sterile. Nothing decays, turns sour and rots in them. The oldest birch bark containers (used for more than 50 years) attract by their ivory beauty and elegancy.

KHOLMOGOR IVORY CARVING

Kholmogor ivory carving is unique art that has existed for more than 400 years. The earliest evidences of this fact traced back to the 17th century. Kholmogor ivory carving especially flourished during ruling of Peter the First. It is a period when unique items were made and they are still examples of creative decoration and technical performance for modern ivory carvers. Boom of ivory carving industry occurred in the 18th century. Fedot Ivanovich Shubin was an outstanding Russian sculptor who came to Petersburg in 1759. He got popularity among influential persons due to ivory and pearl carving. Shubin initiated a new stage of development of ivory carving art. It was completed by Osip Khristoforovich Dudin who was the most educated man and big fan of books. A few times ivory fretted chess made by Dudin was bought for the grand prince Pavel Petrovich, heir to the tsar throne. In the 19th - 20th century a technique of through carving became popular in ivory carving industry. Wonderful everyday life items were made according to this technique. They are exposed in a museum. Exposition includes a dish that was presented to the Grand Prince Vladimir Aleksandrovich during his visit to Kholmogori in 1885. It was made by Mikhail Mikhailovich Bobretsov. In the first half of the previous century Northern carvers mastered a technique of ivory engraving. The most famous artists of this period are N.D. Butorin, V.A. Prosvirnin and V.T. Vatlin. Growth of individual creativity was peculiarity in 90s of the 20th century. At the moment leading ivory carving masters are G.F. Osipov and V.N. Khabarov. Their works are exposed in many Russian and foreign museums. In the Lomonosovo Village a studio of art ivory carving produces mass items for selling and unique special items made of walrus, mammoth ivory and simply cow hypotarsus. Handicraft is not getting obsolete. It is young and in a process of searching for new approaches in art. There is constant influx of young creative people.

FOLK CLAY TOY

Kargopol Toy

A master and toy maker, Uliyana Babkina lived in the Russian North not far from small Kargopol town in the Grinyevo village that was almost abandoned. The Grinyevo Village was abandoned. There were no toy makers left. Handicraft would be lost if Uljyana Babkina did not keep up to work hard sculpting her toys. Old lady Uljyana willingly taught her skill everyone interested, and she managed to prepare a new generation. Masters inhabited in neighbouring villages and in the Kargopol land. Folk Kargopol toy still exists due to them.
Red clay is used to sculpt. Figures are sculpted a little bit rough stocky, shoulders merge with back of the head, figures have short legs. Masters make annimals humanlike . They are busy with things that people do, bears, goats and sheep play musical instruments, carry dishes and smoke. Items were dried and a few weeks later they were fired and then whitewashed. Painting is rather simple. It comprises stripes, strokes, rhombs and mottles. Colors are blue, bricky red, green, black and ocherous. Sometimes golden and silver colors are added.

ART WOOD PAINTING

Pyermogori Painting

It comprises works made by masters from the following villages- Chyeryepanovo, Bolshoy Byeryeznik and Gryedinskaya. They are located 4 km from the Pyermogori Pier. Basis of the Pyermogori painting is plant pattern. Supple sprouts have trilobate a little crooked leaves with sharp ends and tuliplike flowers that remind ancient lily flower. Among them there are bunches of rounded leaves, sirins and smart fairy-tale birds. In the 19th century different genre scenes from peasant life were added to plant pattern which was painted by Pyermogori masters practically on all everyday life items. In the Pyermogori painting there is predominance of white color of a background and red color of a pattern. Green and yellow colors are additional ones of a background. Black thin outline has a significant meaning in the painting. It was painted free with facility and always professionally. At the beginning a black outline is painted on a ground (as if you use paper) by a feather, then it was filled with color.

There were a lot of everyday life items that were painted. Wooden and birch bark dishes were decorated by the painting. Many big items (cradles, caskets, trunks, headrests) were painted. But the most popular thing was to paint spinning wheels. For every peasant woman a spinning wheel was not only a necessary item in everyday life. A spinning wheel went through her entire life. A spinning wheel reminded her best memories of youth. Wedding ceremony was always connected with a spinning wheel.

Boryetskiye Paintings

Painting sparkled because of whiteness of a background. Bright red color of plant pattern burnt on it. Gold leaf that people liked to use to decorate spinning wheels in this center make them look smart and holiday-like. Structure of spinning wheel's paddles sort of includes three sectors. Golden windows with flowers are painted above, in the central part there is a fairy-tale bush with birds, a scene of skating is at the bottom.

Rakulskaya Painting

It is absolutely different from Pyermogori and Boryetskaya paintings. Golden ocherous and black colors play the main role here. Deep green and brown red colors are usually additional. Ornamental pattern is very large and it mostly comprises decorative leaves. Black color is used to paint not only an outline, but many details such as awns, tendrils and streaks. Folk artists turned ordinary everyday life items into art works by painting them bright and smart. They still make us happy.

Myezyen Painting

The Myezyen painting is different from other kinds of painting. Archaistic concepts regarding ancient people are obviously shown here. Pictures have deep roots. Petroglyphs (rock paintings/carvings) were found on shores of the White sea and the Onyega Lake. They have something in common with the Myezyen painting. Another peculiarity is that painting was made exclusively by males. At the end of the 19th century a handicraft was developed in the Paloshchyeljye Village on a bank of the Myezyen River. Different everyday life items were painted (birch bark containers, bast baskets, birch bark chests). But spinning wheels got special popularity.

The painting differs in restrained range of colors (saturn red and carbon-black colors). A picture has Spots and stripes. Black color was a color of an outline. Prepared item was covered with olive oil varnish that made it look golden. It seems to be simple, but the painting is extremely interesting. Geometrical lines representing ancient symbols of the earth, the Sun, water combine with symbols of horses, deer and birds. Combination of all signs poses an ancient way of writing. Represented seeds, cones, fruits enclosed by ancient rhombic figures are symbols of fertility. These signs are intrinsic for many peoples in the world. Circular and cruciform signs are symbols of fire. This is ancient amulets. Birds and animals have additional meaning in domestic magic. Deer brings joy and fun, it is connected with the feast of Gromovik Prophet Iljya (an ancient agricultural and hunting cult). A horse has an additional Sunny meaning . According to ancient beliefs a horse ascends the Sun to the sky every morning. An image of a bird has a special meaning in folklore. Swan and duck were the most frequently depicted. A duck is a special bird as it brings the Sun to the underground world every evening keeping order of things. A swan is connected with elements of the sky and water. It promises a crop, light and wealth.

"The 7 wonders" of the Arkhangelsk Region

Arkhangelsk

— this is the first seaport of Russia, a gateway to the Arctic, homeland of Pomor story tellers such as S. Pisakhov and B. Shergin, homeland of a snowman and this is a start point of all tour programs around the Arkhangelsk region. There is the first fortress of the Russian empire. This is the Novodvinsk fortress.

— this is a pearl of the Arkhangelsk region and spiritual center of Russia. People come here to strengthen their faith, find peace of mind and enjoy severe beauty of northern landscapes and ancient architecture.

— this is the smallest sea of the world's ocean. This is one of the three places in the world where amazing baby seals are born. There are famous islands of the Solovetskiy Archipelago. Here you can find the masterpiece of the northern nature which is the Stone Kiy Island. There is also the Modjyug Island that was used as a lighthouse during wars.

— this is the biggest museum of wooden architecture in Russia. In this open air museum one can learn unique northern architecture and take part in merry Pomor feast and carnival.

— this is the largest number of karts caves in Europe. Hardy explorers of this unique phenomenon of nature will open a real underground kingdom of ice.

— this is an ancient city of the Arkhangelsk region that demonstrates unique white stone architecture. This is a city museum where people carefully keep traditions of producing Kargopol clay toys.

— this is a homeland of outstanding Russian scientist and poet. Stubborn Pomor character is alive here. It became a start point of distinguished Russian science. For four hundred years Kholmogori carving bone art has been famous throughout the world.

— the Arkhangelsk region has a lot of miracles and weird things. You can see northern lights in the sky. A polar bear can pass you riding a piece of ice. You can find here a lot of things that you have never thought about. Come here! Every one will find its own miracle.

© Agency for Tourism and International Cooperation of the Arkhangelsk Region, 2010–2016
Address: Vyucheyskogo st., 18, Arkhangelsk, 163000, Russian Federation

© Tourist Information Centre of the Arkhangelsk Region, 2005–2016
Address: Svoboda st., 8, Arkhangelsk, 163004, Russian federation
Tel./fax: (+7 81-82) 21-40-82
E-mail: info@pomorland.travel

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