Birch bark crafts

Birch bark crafts have been popular in Russia since ancient times. The strong and water-resistant bark can be easily cut, bent, and sewn and was often used to make food and drink containers. In the past peasants would often take a bottle made of birch bark filled with water or kvass when going to the field. They also had a birch bark backpack and often birch bark shoes. Numerous boxes and baskets were used to store honey and berries, sour cream and butter.


Birch bark is called sometimes a Russian papyrus.  In ancient Russia birch bark was used as paper. Thanks to rare qualities of this material we have unique examples of Old Russian literature. Lots of birch bark documents were found during excavations of ancient Novgorod. People wrote with special stick made of bone. We now have the proof that the majority of population in Novgorod in the 13th-14th century including peasants were literate and exchanged birch bark letters.

Birch bark crafts were popular all over Russia, major carving centres included Veliky Ustyug, Semenov, Archangel Region, Tomsk Region and Yakutia.

During your tour of Moscow you can get numerous boxes, jewelry, baskets  made of birch bark. Your Moscow guide can also talk to you about the history of Novgorod archeological excavations and first letters made of birch bark.