Lacquer boxes are among the most beautiful crafts of Russia in the 20th century. They are made of unusual material; it's not wood as it seems to be but papier-mâché. The boxes feature miniature paintings, the themes range from Russian landscapes to Fairy tales.
The first lacquer boxes appeared in Russia in the 18th century but this art flourished in the 20th century after the Revolution. During the Soviet regime religion was not in favor any more and lots of former icon masters had to find a new job. Luckily many of them managed to apply their skills to a new form of art and were involved in painting traditional Russian souvenirs.
It takes several months to make a box out of papier-mache. It appears that this material is more durable than wood, it can withstand changes in atmosphere and humidity and is unlikely to crack. Each box is covered with many layers of lacquer which is applied both inside and outside of the box and gives an exquisite shine to its surface.
The main centers of lacquer boxes production are Fedoskino, Palekh, Kholui, Mstera. Each village has its own style of painting. Thus Fedoskino artists use oil paints while Palech masters prefer tempera. Very often masters put mother-of-pearl, gold or silver leaf on the background which creates the effect of a shimmering glow.
The popular motifs used in Russian lacquer miniature are Russian fairytales, troikas (carriage-and-three), scenes from Russian peasant life, landscapes. During your Moscow tours
you can see the lacquer boxes in shops are craft markets. It's also possible to go with youк Moscow guide
to Fedoskino village which is not far from Moscow.