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Gzhel is the famous blue and white pottery produced in a group of around 30 villages situated some 60 kilometers south east of Moscow. Gzhel ceramics can be described as faience or majolica, sort of pottery made from fired clay and adorned with colored glaze. Among the most distinctive feature of Gzhel pottery is the cheerful combination of the white background with a blue floral design.

A more general meaning of Gzhel is the whole area, consisting of these 27 villages united into Gzhelski kust (Gzhel bush). Located on the railroad rout Moscow-Murom-Kazan, Gzhelski kust now is part of the Ramenski District of the Moscow Region.

The very first record of Gzhel is found in the will of Ivan Kalita of 1328. Later this name is repeated in ecclesiastical letter missives of other princes and the will of Ivan the Terrible of 15721578.

From olden times Gzhel was famous for its clays. Wide extraction of various sorts of clay was performed there from the mid 17th century. Till the mid 18th century Gzhel made ordinary for that time pottery, bricks, tile pipes, izrazets (glazed tiles), and primitive toys, providing Moscow with them.

In 1812 Gzhel had 25 factories that produced earthenware. From the second half of the 1820s many items came to be painted with blue colour only.

The second half of the 19th century was the time of greatest artistic achievements of Gzhel ceramic art in all its fields. Aspiring to get delicate thin faience and porcelain, the production owners constantly perfected the composition of the white paste.

From the mid 19th century lots of Gzhel factories dilapidated and ceramic production concentrated in the hands of the Kuznetsovs, once locals of Gzhel. After the revolution Kuznetsovs factories were nationalized.

Only from the mid 20th century Gzhel saw the revival of its famous handicraft, which lately marked its 650th anniversary. In the 1930s and 1940s almost half of all Russian porcelain and faience enterprises were located there.

In 1912 a railway station named Gzhel after the place, was established on the branch line Moscow-Cherusti of the Kazan railroad. A settlement that sprang up around the station is also called Gzhel.




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  (Moscow Region)

Cities of the region

    Sergiev Posad
    Pavlovsky Posad


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