Russian distaffs

Spinning wheel blade. 1878, Village Aopshenga, Arkhangelsk district, Arkhangelsk province. Master Egor Bronnikov Wood, three-edged carving, contour, through, coloring.

Russian distaffs

Russian distaffs occupy a peculiar position among the objects of folk art. It would be difficult to name any other tool used in a peasant household on which more loving care was lavished, to make its shape as perfect, and its decoration as beautiful as possible. People’s imagination has created a variety of shapes for the distaff. There is the monumental spade-like tool, the petal-shaped one on a slender figured leg, and the distaff in the form of a tower, resertibling some graceful work of architectural fancy.

The bottom of the spinning wheel. 1880s. Settlements along the Uzola river, Gorodets district, Balakhninsky district, Nizhny Novgorod province. Wood, painting

Distaffs were made in each family.

A peasant girl learned to spin in her early childhood, and this work was her lot through life. Among the people, the attitude towards the tiring toil of the spinner was one of understanding and consideration. There was a custom for the village women to assemble and do their spinning in company. In winter they would gather of an evening in a house roomier than the others, the married ones wearing their best clothes, the girls with their beautifully ornamented distaffs. They were joined by the young men of the village, and the work went on amidst jokes and laughter, singing and general merriment.

Another custom was to make presents of distaffs. A distaff was a father’s gift to his daughter, a young man’s to his fiancee, a husband’s to his wife. Touching inscriptions were made, such as “Thee I love, to thee I give; with love from my heart, to thee for all time”, or “Spin, preserve the distaff, and pray God for thy father”. Distaffs were kept in families as heirlooms, and handed down from mother to daughter for generations.

The most skilful of distaff makers manufactured their productions both to order and for sale at fairs. In areas with long-standing traditions of woodwork, — in the neighbourhood of large villages carrying on a brisk trade, in villages situated on the banks of navigable rivers, or along busy trade routes, — there arose centres of the production of distaffs. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries such centres were known in the Yaroslavl and Nizhny Novgorod governments, and in the Northern regions of Russia.

The bottom of the spinning wheel. 1870s, Khlebaiha village on the Uzole river, Balakh Ninsky district, Nizhny Novgorod province. Master Menshikov Anton Vasilievich, Wood, painting.

The techniques of carving and methods of decoration varied from place to place.

They were closely linked with local artistic tastes and traditions. In the ornamentation of carved distaffs, geometrical designs prevailed. In painted decoration, such motifs as a bunch of flowers, or a flowering shrub, were dominant. Plant motifs might occur in combination with scenes of country or town life, and sometimes with figures of animals and birds.

Scenes of daily life, marked by keen observation and rendered with a sense of humour bordering on the grotesque, form a characteristic feature of Russian folk art. In the nineteenth century such scenes were used as a matter of course in decorative compositions on carved distaffs of the Yaroslavl and Nizhny Novgorod masters, and of painted distaffs made in the Nizhny Novgorod, the North Dvina and the Mezen regions. Russian distaffs possess every charm of Russian folk art.

The evolution of folk art in the course of history has left its traces on the shape and decoration of the distaffs.
The present album has been composed on the basis of the collections owned by the Russian Museum (Leningrad). It illustrates almost every type of artistically executed distaffs known in European Russia.

Photo

The bottom of the spinning wheel. 1880s. Settlements along the Uzola river, Gorodets district, Balakhninsky district, Nizhny Novgorod province. Wood, painting
The bottom of the spinning wheel. 1880s. Settlements along the Uzola river, Gorodets district,
Balakhninsky district, Nizhny Novgorod province. Wood, painting
The bottom of the spinning wheel. 1870s, Khlebaiha village on the Uzole river, Balakh Ninsky district, Nizhny Novgorod province. Master Menshikov Anton Vasilievich, Wood, painting.
The bottom of the spinning wheel. 1870s, Khlebaiha village on the Uzole river, Balakh
Ninsky district, Nizhny Novgorod province. Master Menshikov Anton Vasilievich, Wood, painting.
Spinning wheel. 1927, Upper Uftyuga, Solvychegodsky district, Vologda province. Master Lapin Alexey Amplievich (1899-1964), Wood, painting. Spinning wheel. The beginning of the XX century, Borok, Shenkursky district, Arkhangelsk province. Master Amosov Kuzma Matveevich (1884-1930), Wood, painting. Spinning wheel. 1890, Borok, Shenkur district, Arkhangelsk province. A master from the Amosov family, Wood, painting.
Russian distaffs 1927, Upper Uftyuga, Solvychegodsky district,
Vologda province. Master Lapin Alexey Amplievich
(1899-1964), Wood, painting.
Spinning wheel. The beginning of the XX century, Borok, Shenkursky district, Arkhangelsk province. Master Amosov Kuzma Matveevich
(1884-1930), Wood, painting.
Spinning wheel. 1890, Borok, Shenkur district, Arkhangelsk
province. A master from the Amosov family, Wood, painting.
Spinning wheel blade. Back side, (detail). 19th century Permogorye, Solvychegodsky district, Vologda province Master Yarygin Yakov Vasilievich, Wood, painting.
Spinning wheel blade. Back side, (detail). 19th century
Permogorye, Solvychegodsky district, Vologda province
Master Yarygin Yakov Vasilievich, Wood, painting.
Spinning wheel blade. Back side, (detail). XIX century, Permogorye, Solvychegodsky district, Vologda province Master Yarygin Yakov Vasilievich. Wood, painting.
Spinning wheel blade. Back side, (detail). XIX century,
Permogorye, Solvychegodsky district, Vologda province
Master Yarygin Yakov Vasilievich. Wood, painting.
Spinning wheel blade (detail). XIX century. Permogorye, Solvychegodsky district, Vologda province. Wood, painting.
Spinning wheel blade (detail). XIX century. Permogorye, Solvychegodsky district, Vologda province. Wood, painting.
Spinning wheel. Late 19th century, Rakulka, Solvychegodsky district, Vologda province. Wood, painting.
Spinning wheel. Late 19th century, Rakulka, Solvychegodsky district, Vologda province. Wood, painting.
Spinning wheel blade. Back side, (detail). End of the 19th century Palaschel village, Mezensky district, Arkhangelsk province Wood, painting.
Spinning wheel blade. Back side, (detail). End of the 19th century
Palaschel village, Mezensky district, Arkhangelsk province
Wood, painting.
Spinning wheel. XIX century, Kenozero, Kargopol district, Olonets- kaya province. Wood, painting.
Spinning wheel. XIX century, Kenozero, Kargopol district, Olonets-
kaya province. Wood, painting.
Spinning wheel blade. 1878, Village Aopshenga, Arkhangelsk district, Arkhangelsk province. Master Egor Bronnikov Wood, three-edged carving, contour, through, coloring.
Spinning wheel blade. 1878, Village Aopshenga, Arkhangelsk district, Arkhangelsk province. Master Egor Bronnikov
Wood, three-edged carving, contour, through, coloring.
Spinning wheel. End of the 19th century. Syretskoye village, Novoladozhsky district, Petersburg province. Master Korablev-Shustov (1834-1930). Wood, carving, turning. Spinning wheel. Late 19th - early 20th century. Village Spasovshchina, Novoladozhsky district, St. Petersburg province. Wood, carving, turning, painting.
Spinning wheel. End of the 19th century. Syretskoye village, Novoladozhsky district, Petersburg province. Master Korablev-Shustov (1834-1930). Wood, carving, turning.
Spinning wheel. Late 19th – early 20th century. Village Spasovshchina, Novoladozhsky district, St. Petersburg province. Wood, carving, turning, painting.
Russian distaffs. Svejk. 1893, Kostroma province. Wood, volumetric carving, trihedral chamfered. On the bottom there is an inscription: 1893 March 20, work of Neslanov
Russian distaffs 1893, Kostroma province. Wood, volumetric carving, trihedral chamfered. On the bottom there is an inscription: 1893 March 20, work of Neslanov
Russian distaffs. Spinning wheel (blade). XIX century. Shoksha village, Galich district, Kostroma province. Wood, lathe work, painting.
Spinning wheel (blade). XIX century. Shoksha village, Galich district, Kostroma province. Wood, lathe work, painting.
Russian distaffs. Spinning wheel. XIX century. Kenozero, Kargopol district, Olonets- kaya province. Wood, triangular chamfered carving, coloring, painting.
Spinning wheel. XIX century. Kenozero, Kargopol district, Olonets-
kaya province. Wood, triangular chamfered carving,
coloring, painting.
Detail of the painting on the spinning wheel. Kenozero, Kargopol district, Olonets province. Tree, coloring, painting.
Detail of the painting on the spinning wheel. Kenozero, Kargopol district, Olonets province. Tree, coloring, painting.
Russian distaffs. Spinning wheel. 1879, Vorobyevo village, Konevskaya volost, Kargopol district, Olonets province. Wood, three-edged carving, coloring, painting. 92 x 25 x 54 On the back of the blade there is an inscription: 1879
Spinning wheel. 1879, Vorobyevo village, Konevskaya volost,
Kargopol district, Olonets province. Wood, three-edged carving, coloring, painting. 92 x 25 x 54
On the back of the blade there is an inscription: 1879
Spinning wheel. 1899, Lomakiny village (on the Volozhka river), Kargopol district, Olonets province. Wood, three-edged carving, coloring, painting.
Spinning wheel. 1899, Lomakiny village (on the Volozhka river),
Kargopol district, Olonets province. Wood, three-edged carving, coloring, painting.
Russian distaffs. Spinning wheel blade, Village Zikhnovo, Kenozero, Kargopol- sky district, Olonets province. Master Zavyalov Prokopiy Prokopyevich. Wood, three-edged carving
Spinning wheel blade, Village Zikhnovo, Kenozero, Kargopol-
sky district, Olonets province. Master Zavyalov Prokopiy Prokopyevich. Wood, three-edged carving
Russian distaffs. Spinning wheel. XIX century, Village Zikhnovo, Kenozero, Kargopol- sky district, Olonets province. Master Zavyalov Prokopiy Prokopyevich. Wood, three-edged carving
Spinning wheel. XIX century, Village Zikhnovo, Kenozero, Kargopol-
sky district, Olonets province. Master Zavyalov Prokopiy Prokopyevich. Wood, three-edged carving
Russian distaffs. Spinning wheel. 1886, Village Podgornaya, Totemsky district, Vo- Logod province (Verkhovazhye). Master Edemsky Ivan Filippovich, Wood, carving.
Spinning wheel. 1886, Village Podgornaya, Totemsky district, Vo-
Logod province (Verkhovazhye). Master Edemsky Ivan Filippovich, Wood, carving.
Spinning wheel. 1924, Village Krotovskaya, Tarnogsky district, Vologda region. Wood, triangular chamfered carving.
Spinning wheel. 1924, Village Krotovskaya, Tarnogsky district,
Vologda region. Wood, triangular chamfered carving.
Russian distaffs. Spinning wheel. The beginning of the XX century, Berezniki village, Totemsky district, Vologda province (Verkhovazhye). Wood, triangular chamfered carving.
Spinning wheel. The beginning of the XX century, Berezniki village, Totemsky district, Vologda province (Verkhovazhye). Wood, triangular chamfered carving.
Russian distaffs. Spinning wheel. Mid-19th century, Podgornaya village, Totemsky district, Vologda province (Verkhovazhye). Wood, triangular chamfered carving. Spinning wheel. 1895, Village Zakharovskaya, Totemsky district, Vologda province (Verkhovazhye). Master Kulatov Ivan Alexandrovich
Spinning wheel. Mid-19th century, Podgornaya village, Totemsky district, Vologda province (Verkhovazhye). Wood, triangular chamfered carving.
Spinning wheel. 1895, Village Zakharovskaya, Totemsky district,
Vologda province (Verkhovazhye). Master Kulatov Ivan Alexandrovich
Russian distaffs. Spinning wheel blade. 1893, Navolok village, Velikoustyug district, Vologda province. Master Naumov Ivan Efimovich Wood, three-edged carving, contoured, through, inlaid with pieces of mirror.
Spinning wheel blade. 1893, Navolok village, Velikoustyug district, Vologda province. Master Naumov Ivan Efimovich
Wood, three-edged carving, contoured, through, inlaid with pieces of mirror.
Russian distaffs. Spinning wheel. 1893, Navolok village, Velikoustyug district, Vologda province. Master Naumov Ivan Efimovich Wood, three-edged carving, contoured, through, inlaid with pieces of mirror. Caption: Shan Efimov Naumov worked for his wife Elizaveta Andreevna. Whom I love, I give, I love heartily, I give forever
Spinning wheel. 1893, Navolok village, Velikoustyug district,
Vologda province. Master Naumov Ivan Efimovich
Wood, three-edged carving, contoured, through, inlaid with pieces of mirror.
Caption: Shan Efimov Naumov worked for his wife Elizaveta Andreevna. Whom I love, I give, I love heartily, I give forever
Russian distaffs. Spinning wheel. XIX century,
Spinning wheel. XIX century, Nyuksenitsa village, Velikoustyug district,
Vologda province. Wood, carving, triangular, grooved and
foot-like.
Spinning wheel. XIX century, Nyuksenitsa village, Velikoustyug district,
Vologda province. Wood, three-edged carving
Russian distaffs. Spinning wheel. 1920, Village Ustye Gorodischenskoye, Nyuksen- sky district, Vologda region. Master Andrey Pavlovich Zolotkov. Wood, triangular chamfered carving, slits, coloring, painting, 96 x 30 x 70
Spinning wheel. 1920, Village Ustye Gorodischenskoye, Nyuksen-
sky district, Vologda region. Master Andrey Pavlovich Zolotkov. Wood, triangular chamfered carving,
slits, coloring, painting, 96 x 30 x 70
Russian distaffs. Spinning wheel 1920s, Semenkovo village, Totemsky
Spinning wheel 1920s, Semenkovo village, Totemsky district, Vo-
logodsk province. Master Kuchin Ivan Vasilievich
Wood, carving, triangular champlevé, painting
Spinning wheel. Late 19th – early 20th century, Zalesye Village, Totemsky Uyezd, Vologda Province. Wood, carving, triangular champlevé, coloring, painting, 81 x 16.5 x 47
Russian distaffs. Spinning wheel. XIX century, Golokovo village, Kadnikovsky district, Vologda province. Wood, carving, triangular, grooved and through, 82 x 22 x 48.5
Spinning wheel. XIX century, Golokovo village, Kadnikovsky district,
Vologda province. Wood, carving, triangular, grooved and
through, 82 x 22 x 48.5
Russian distaffs. Spinning wheel. 1880s, Filinskaya village, Kadnikovsky district, Vologda province. Wood, triangular chamfered carving, coloring, 88 x 21.3 x 50
Spinning wheel. 1880s, Filinskaya village, Kadnikovsky district,
Vologda province. Wood, triangular chamfered carving,
coloring, 88 x 21.3 x 50
Spinning wheel. XIX century. Vologda district, Vologda province Wood, triangular chamfered carving, coloring, 91 x 22 x 55
Spinning wheel. XIX century. Vologda district, Vologda province
Wood, triangular chamfered carving, coloring, 91 x 22 x 55
Spinning wheel. The beginning of the XX century. Vologda district, Vologda province. Wood, triangular chamfered carving. 75.5 x 12.7 x 54.5

Russian distaffs