Art treasures from the Kargopol region

Art treasures from the Kargopol region

Birchbark covered boxes with stamped and openwork decora­tion. Height 20.5 cm, 19cm, 22 cm; diam. 12 cm, 13 cm, 15 cm. Made by A. and V. Petukhovs in the 1970s, Settlement of Voloshka

Art treasures from the Kargopol region
The land of Kargopol, lying around the Lake Lache and the River Onega, is an administrative unit of the Arkhangelsk Region, in the south-west of the Soviet Union. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the town of Kargopol was one of Russia’s major cultural and trading centres. In the 17th century the architecture attained to such a high level as to form a distinctive local school; applied arts and folk crafts as well as the calligraphy, emerged and throne in the land; the local school of icon painting was well known all over the country.
The heritage of Kargopol began to be studied in the past centuries, and by now many specimens of the folk arts, icons and written records have found their way into different Soviet museums. This volume introduces to the art lovers the relics of Kargopol, many of which are being published for the first time.

Art treasures from the Kargopol region

Composition in moulded red clay painted in tempera: figurine of an accordion-player, 1969; quadrille, 1972; figurine of an accordion-player, 1972; tree with perched black-cocks, 1972. Height 10.7 cm,11.5 cm, 11.4 cm, 12.7 cm. Made by U. Babkina, Village of Grinevo

The land of Kargopol, lying around the Lake Lache and the River Onega, is today an administrative unit of Arkhangelsk Region, Russian North.
The name of the land of Kargopol first occurred in the annals in the twelfth century — the time when the first Russian settlers from the lands of Novgorod and Rostov came to stay in those parts. Tradition and historical records seem to confirm that Kargopol itself was founded in the twelfth century.
In the sixteenth century this town was one of Russia’s major trading centres — a link between Western Europe and the Moscow State. For centuries the local population engaged in farming, hunting and fishing, and also in the extraction of salt, which Kargopol supplied to many towns of Muscovy.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries a large number of churches and monasteries, both in stone and in wood, was constructed in and around Kargopol. In the latter century the architecture attained to such a high level as to form a distinctive local school.
Applied arts and folk crafts, as well as the art of writing, emerged and throve in the land. Censuses carried out in the sixteenth-eighteenth centuries incorporate the names of many icon painters, silver, copper and metal-smiths, founders, and other craftsmen. The local school of icon painting took shape under the influence of the Rostov and Novgorod masters; it was the Novgorod school of Old Russian painting (late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries) that had the decisive influence on Kargopol icons.

Art treasures from the Kargopol region

Embroidered woman’s smock of the first half of the 19 th century, worked in double-sided, geometric and satin stitches with gold and flax threads and silks on
linen. Length 109 cm

In 1612-15 the land of Kargopol fell prey to the devastating raids of Polish and Lithuanian invaders. But the town fortress, which was never ceized, remained an important fortified outpost of the Moscow State until the mid-seventeenth century.
In the second half of the seventeenth century, after the reforms of Patriarch Nicon aimed at revising the liturgical books and ceremonials, the woods around Kargopol became an asylum for the Old Believers; the latter were a strong cultural influence in the region.
With the rise of St. Petersburg the Northern trade routes lost most of their importance for the economy of Russia, and the land of Kargopol was not subject to the radical capitalist changes that swept Russia. From that time on the region became something like a preserve for old-time folk culture, which its people safeguarded and carried on. It is still a realm of heroic Russian bylinas, religious verses, historical songs and ancient legends.

Art treasures from the Kargopol region

Trimming of а 19th century icon showing St Nicholas with SS Cosmas and Damian on the borders, worked in artificial jets and pearls, colour glass, foil and couched gold thread on linen. 34×34 cm. From Kargopol

The land of Kargopol harbours one of Russia’s finest schools of embroidery (including embroidery in gold thread and pearls), which has preserved the old techniques and the archaic images of Slav mythology.
In our own time the folk craftsmen of Kargopol are contributing interesting traditional articles – fabrics and carved wooden pieces, metalwork and pottery. These articles have on many occasions been displayed at exhibitions both in the Soviet Union and abroad.
The heritage of Kargopol began to be studied in the past century, and by now many specimens of the folk arts, many icons and written records which originated in the region have found their way into different Soviet museums. Some of these pieces were authored by local masters, others by those from the major culture centres of medieval Russia.
The volume introduces to the readers the relics of Kargopol, many of which are being published for the first time.

Art treasures from the Kargopol region