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Russian Handicraft of Rod Wickerwork
May 5, 2015 10:31

Willow rod braiding appeared as a handicraft in Russia in the 19th century. Its origin was in many respects promoted by the European fashion for wickerwork and wicker furniture. Museums and schools of rod wickerwork were created and manuals were published in Austro-Hungary, Germany, France, and Italy, where the willow became a plant specially cultivated in plantations. Rod wickerworks exported from Russia were in wide demand among European estate owners; that demand also motivated Russian peasants to develop their mastery of rod braiding.

Handymen made rod hand baskets and boxes for carrying coal, grains and snow, as well as containers for transporting beer and vodka and even braided fish-traps. Production of wattled sledge and carriage bodies was developed at a high level. Townsfolk bought up convenient seats, chairs, sledges, children’s carts, road baskets, laundry baskets and flower baskets, small-sized tableware and all sorts of screens.
At the end of the 19th century another trend was developed in this handicraft: wicker furniture made of white willow rods. A set of such furniture - a sofa, an armchair, a chair, and a stool – made by the master A.V. Isupov was displayed at the Kazan exhibition in 1890. In 1896 he became a participant of the All-Russian exhibition in Nizhny Novgorod as well.
The syllabus for three year practical training course in the basket and furniture wickerwork was developed in 1914.
Various types of rod wattled furniture, baskets interlaced with horsetail and straw, sets of willow baskets of different size, baskets for papers, flowers, knives and forks, and handbags were available.
After the Revolution and the beginning of the Civil War handicraftsmen faced hard times. Trade in general was gradually lost. However, household rod braiding was preserved by peasants, who kept making the most necessary and simple things, such as baskets and fish-traps, and sometimes even furniture. The traditions of rod wickerwork were saved only in sparse artels.
In the second half of the 20th century the craft was revived and perfected.


Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Folk Arts Arts and Crafts Woodwork Wickerwork  

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