The Khokhloma Russian handicraft became
known as early as the 18th century. The Russian handicraft of
manufacturing wooden utensils with peculiar decorative painting
imitating gilding received the appellation of Khokhloma art
from one of the villages where it originally had been practiced
in ancient times.
The lush "grass-leaves"
decorative ornaments and their peculiar color scheme suggest
that the Khokhloma art is rooted in the ancient Russian decorative
culture while the imitation of gilt ornaments on wood dates
back to the medieval Russian handicraft skills. The painting
technique has been somewhat upgraded but remains essentially
the same as in the ancient time.
The Khokhloma dishes, cups and wooden drink
pots were used for serving food at holiday feasts. The wooden
articles manufactured by serfs for the use at the Moscow house
of an important statesman had to look valuable; accordingly,
they were modeled on the rich painted plates decorated with
real golden fabricated by the jewelers for the luxurious homes
of the Russian nobility.
The Khokhloma style generally exhibits a combination
of the red, gold, and black typical of the decorative painting
of that region in late 17th century and first half of the
18th century. The three colors had a profound symbolism for
decorating the sacred church vessels and the dishes and cups
used in the monasteries and nunneries, as well as in icon
In the Khokhloma art, as in the folk poetry,
the plant images are endowed with a special meaning and the
blooming plants symbolized the intensely invigorating power
of the nature. The Khokhloma art evolved in the mainstream
of the folk art of the Volga region and was influenced by
other folk arts and crafts. New ornamental styles emerged
in the Khokhloma painting in mid-19th century as the Khokhloma
craftsmen adopted and reworked the motifs they found in the
wood carving decorating houses, the gold embroideries, and
the peculiar style of painting on the wooden articles manufactured
near the town of Gorodets.
Even today the town of Semenov is famous for
the skilful craftsmen who lived there in the last three centuries.
The arts and crafts company "The Khokhloma Ornaments"
employs about six hundred artists painting the articles, wood
turners and carvers, spoon and cup makers, furniture designers,
and the specialists who have mastered the secrets of the traditional
Khokhloma color recipes and are developing the most advanced
know-how in the Khokhloma painting techniques and materials.
Some of the Khokhloma articles are sold directly
as souvenirs or decorative objects. Many have everyday household
uses, such as dishes, cups, plates, salt cellars and set of
kitchen utensils and dishes for serving Russian ethnic foods
and setting festive table in a way traditional for Russian
The articles produced by the Khokhloma craftsmen
can be seen in any Russian household and have become an integral
part of the Russian culture. The Khokhloma articles are exported
to 35 countries where Russian folk arts and crafts become
increasingly popular. The Khokhloma artists have been widely
recognized in Russia as one can see from the numerous awards
bestowed on them. In particular, the Russian government awarded
the official State Prizes and other honors to many Khokhloma