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Russia's Famous Gzhel Ceramics

The exact date of establishment of the village of Gzhel is unknown; however, it was first documented in records in the fourteenth century. Located approximately fifty kilometers from the city of Moscow, little is known about the history of the village except for the fact that by 1784 the village had grown to have a few inns, numerous manufacturing establishments and retail shops. It is also home to a significant art form that is unique to Russia and carries the name of the village, namely Gzhel ceramics.

Since the early 1800s the village has been producing quality Gzhel ceramics, which rivaled the creamware that was being produced in England during this same time period. It started off with potters creating original pieces within their own homes, and eventually grew to workshops, which in turn led to Gzhel factories being established. The color of the earthenware might vary between shades of white and dark brown as it depends entirely on what raw materials have been used to create the pottery pieces. When it comes to decorating the work produced there are two forms of Gzhel, of which the original type is the most popular. Potters paint their creations milky white and use cobalt blue to cover the item in an artistic design. The other form is known as majolica, where the white glazed background is covered in designs of yellow, brown, blue and green. The earthenware will remain semi-porous until the glazing process, which is done at low temperatures. With the creation of their own hand-painted porcelain, Russia saved a tremendous amount of money as it was no longer necessary to import porcelain in large scale from other countries.

Visitors to Russia will be able to purchase a variety of Gzhel products, which make ideal souvenirs and gifts. The pottery is designed as bowls, spice jars, tableware sets, vases, plates, mugs, pots, spoons and shakers, as well as decorative items such as clocks, figurines, Easter eggs and candlesticks. Gzhel is a significant part of the heritage of Russia and an industry that brought fame and prosperity to the quaint little village of Gzhel.


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