The State Memorial and Natural Preserve "Museum-estate of Leo Tolstoy "Yasnaya Polyana"
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Exhibition of Filimonovo Toys by Irina Bezhina
igrushka1February 5-26, 2014
"All Arts" Souvenir Shop 

You are welcome to an exhibition of items made in an old folk style, which had its origins in Tula region, namely, the Filimonovo toy. The folk art master Irina Bezhina will present her handmade works in the souvenir shop on Oktyabrskaya Street.

These joyous bright figures are exhibited at the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, and are also very popular in France, Japan, and Germany. At their “birthplace,” in the village of Filimonovo in Odoevsky region, a museum of Filimonovo toys was opened five years ago.


The pottery craft in Filimonovo grew up owing to the deposits of especially pliable blue clay.  From it, dishes, toys, and whistles were made and decorated in reddish, yellow, and green colors.  The toys acquired their characteristic lengthened proportions precisely because of the qualities of the material — during the drying process the oily clay usually settled and cracked, and the craftsman had to tend to the sculpted figurines several times, stretching them in the process.

The figurines are painted with a chicken feather, which is why the designs seem a little crude, as if done by a child. The animal figurines are covered with multicolored stripes, shoots of plants, dots, and maidens and squires are always “dressed” very festively and brightly.  Each Filimonovo toy is a whistle, but whistles were never included as part of the figures of people, rather being included only as part of the tail of an animal or bird that was depicted as being held by a person.


In present times, the old craft’s traditions are being upheld. Each toy can justly be termed an individual work of art, being the creation of the talent and work of a single individual.  Skilled craftsman Irina Bezhina has for many years been engaged in the revival and development of the Filimonovo and Tula toys. Each of her works is an authentic work of art, embodying positive energy and linking us with the culture, in which old Russian crafts were born.

Irina Bezhina is a member of the Union of Artists of Russia and the International Association of Art AIAP of UNESCO, a continuing participant in art exhibitions, both local and international. Her works occupy an honored place in the collections of the Hermitage and the Russian Museum, museums of Tula, Ryazan, Vologda, Omsk, Krasnoyarsk, and in Russian and foreign private collections.

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