Folk clay toys from Russia

Dymkovo clay doll from Russia, Mother with childrenMother with many children Dymkovo doll, 1960-70s, All-Russian Decorative Art Museum, Moscow

One of the cutest souvenirs one can bring home from Russia is a ceramic folk toy. There is a variety of them but the most lively and most poplar toys are from Vyatka. They are called Dymkovo toys because originally they were produced in Dymkovo Sloboda village. The Dymkovo toy is nearly five hundred years old. The figurines were traditionally made by women and children working together in family units dividing the work according to the skill required for each step. Each person specialized in a particular part of the body or accessories. All parts were joined together and the seams rubbed with a damp rag or a wet finger and then the figures were set aside to dry for several days.

Ceramic folk figurine from Russia, Dymkovo doll

Traditional clay figurine from Russia, Dymkovo toy

Clay dolls from Russia, Dymkovo toys

After dying the figures were baked over an open fire and after that place into solution of milk and crashed chalk to make even white ground for the paint. The paints were in six colours: blue, yellow, green, orange, crimson and black. Sometimes tints and mixtures of light blue, rose and brown were also included. Painting represented a geometric ornament of circles, checks, and dots of different colors and sizes.
Most of the figures of women, men, children and animals reflected village life. Massive, abstract, and somewhat grotesque forms of the toys were emphasized by ruffles, puffed collars, and other features. They were playthings first but later became amusing collectors' items and offered the possibility of some extra income for the peasants who made them.

Dymkovo toys, folk ceramic figurines

Dymkovo toys, ceramic folk figurines from Russia

Rooster, clay figurine from Russia, Dymkovo toy

In the late 19th century the handicraft fell into decline because the Dymkovo toys had been forced out of the market by the factory-made moulded plaster statuettes, which imitated porcelain articles. During the Soviet times, however, the Dymkovo handicraft was revived. At that time besides the usual motifs the toys began to depict fairy tales characters as well. Modern day Dymkovo toys conform to the traditional style yet each reflects the craftsman's individual manner.
Filimonovo folk clay toy from RussiaLovers, Filimonovo toy, 1980s, All-Russian Decorative Art Museum, Moscow 

Less known but no less interesting are the Filimonovo toys. The toys derive its name from the village of its origin, Filimonovo, and are moulded by hand from the bluish-grey local clay that fires into a pure white ceramic.The style of the Filimonovo toys is entirely different. The figurines - women, horsemen, assorted animals such as bears, cattle, and roosters - are elongated and are painted with motifs of bright strips and spots, often in alternating green and red colours.

Traditional clay figurines from Russia, Filimonovo toys

Folk ceramic figurines from Russia, Filimonovo toy

So, when you are in Russia and wondering what to buy as a souvenir, think about these colourful and pretty toys, they will not only decorate any room in your house but will bring a smile on your face every time you see them.

1 comment:

  1. These are adorable! I didn't even knew about these ceramic and glay toys.