Russian Lace

About Lace

Photo. Vasily Tropinin «Lacemaker», 1823


The word «lace» in Russia was mentioned for the first time in chronicles in the XIII century. There it was said about Prince Daniel of Galicia, who at the meeting with the Hungarian king was wearing a camisole with lace (1252 g). A few samples of the XV century lace have come to our days: lace sewn on the cover of the relics of St. Sergius of Radonezh, located in the sacristy of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra, and a sample of the church Rogozhsko- Preobrazhensky Monastery. Russian lace of those times were woven of gold and silver threads.
           

Photo. Vasily Vereshchagin «Lacemaker» 1890s

  Most historical documents and samples date to the XVII century, since then there remained vestments, princely and royal costumes, richly decorated by lace motifs.                

Vasily Tropinin » Insertion lace”1830

Though, lace takes its origin from the traditional Russian Counting openwork embroidery, but with the XV — XVII centuries, an independent kind of needlework was formed. Judging by the dates, the roots of Russian lace cannot have an origin from medieval Europe.                
 

Photo. Yevgeny Katzman «Kalyazin lace» 1928

Historians state that in no any other country there was such variety of lace, as in Russia. In addition to the variety of techniques of patterns with cloth, gold and silver threads there was mentioned lace decorated with stones, pearls and feathers with down and ermine, with different silk, tinsel and even barhatil. Lace in Russia was not only the property of the upper class, it was worn by kings and princes, merchants and peasants. And lacemaking itself in Russia was is not prohibited and restricted, as in many European countries. However, lace production in the country had undergone significant changes during the reign of Peter I. His decrees since 1699, forbade the old folk clothes and outfits prescribing to wear the European clothes, mainly German dress. Together with him there came fashion for European lace. Import of lace in Russia undermined the work of domestic factories. In connection with this the emperor issued a decree on the development of the country’s lace manufacturing but according to the European model.
 

Photo. NM Shiryakin «Portrait of lace maker A.S. Brantova in lace cooperative farm ”

  «Pravda», 1947 Wives of the court, observing such an arrangement to the sovereign lace art, started developing a new type of needlework and distributing it among their serfs. But traditional Russian techniques were not lost — they were saved and developed in monasteries and peasant families.              

Photo. NP Timofeev «The Lacemaker» 1947

New impetus to the development of lace manufacturing was given by Mariinsky practical school of lace founded in 1883 , which was under the patronage of the Most August Empress. Items of school students earned high assessment and a lot of medals at many exhibitions. They even had invented a special type of lace, which received a special name abroad «point de Moscou». During those years lace became a permanebt export item. In the period the of Soviet government lace making fell into decay because those delicate openwork rich product did not fit to a modest Soviet way of life. But lace did not disappear — they became home handicraft, product of small cooperatives, a great skill, carefully passed from grandmothers and granddaughters. Now handmade lace — is a luxury, not every Russian woman can afford the lace cape and gloves, but nevertheless, everybody likes traditional Russian lace, which is reflected in the works of contemporary Russian designers and stylists. The Russian Government and the President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin a few years ago expressed support for handicrafts and transferredthe powers supporting handicrafts enterprises to local authorities.        
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