"Lying on the sofa in the grey home suit, amid German cushions into which his shoulders were submerged Е he would be fidgetting with a small thing - his old black dull- lacquered snuff-box.." - that's how Ivan Srgeevich Turgenev was described in "The Russian Vedomosti" in 1884. Strange though it may seem, the history has preserved for us the favourite plaything of Turgenev. Even today one can see the snuffbox of Turgenev at the display of the Institute of the Russian language. In front of us is a small elongated black lacquer box the size of two match boxes. On the lid you see a troika, dashing through the snow covered field, smart pink-cheeked girls are sitting in a sleigh, a daring coachman is spurring the spirited horses.
The village of Fedoskino is in the suburbs of Moscow. It is here, 40 km north of Moscow, in a beautiful area on the banks of Ucha river, that the oldest in Russia center of lacquer miniature painting is located. For 200 years, from generation to generation they would pass the secrets of the lacquer craft - production and painting of lacquer handicrafts made of papier-mache.
Papier-mache is made out of several layers of cardboard, which is glued together, impregnated in linseed oil and dried. The material becomes light, firm and easy to work with. Lacquer boxes and caskets of different shapes and sizes are made out of it. The fashion to sniff tobacco came to Russia from the west at the end of the 18th century and stimulated the wide production of snuff-boxes. That is why there sprang up a number of home industries specializing in production of snuff-boxes, in particular out of papier-mache.
One of them was founded in Fedoskino village by the Russian merchant Petr Kolobov, later it turned into a prominent center of lacquer miniature. The basis for Fedoskino lacquer miniature is the multi-layer painting on the primed surface of the box and special inlays, that could be a gold leaf, aluminium powder, and also mother of pearl, which comes from sea-shells. The technique of painting that was shaped in the first half of the 19th century and combines the old and more modern manners of painting remains as such until nowadays.
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