The State Memorial and Natural Preserve "Museum-estate of Leo Tolstoy "Yasnaya Polyana"
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Exhibition “The Orenburg Shawl in Works by Russian Authors” at the Yasnaya Polyana Gallery

2January 15 - February 21, 2016 
Yasnaya Polyana Gallery 

On January 15 at 16:30, an exhibition about the Orenburg shawl will open at the Yasnaya Polyana Gallery. Visitors to the exhibition will see objects from the collection of the Orenburg Regional Fine Arts Museum, new designer collections, and everyday life objects of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The exhibition will show handmade and machine-made Orenburg shawls, modern works inspired by this traditional craft, and photos of film characters wearing Orenburg shawls. In addition, you will be surprised to see a huge quantity of quotations from works by Russian writers mentioning the Orenburg shawl.

The Orenburg shawl is more than just a down shawl that has been used by women for warmth for over 200 years. It is an inspiring item celebrated in literature and cinema. 


These knitted down shawls were worn by female characters of Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekov, Ivan Bunin, Osip Mandelshtam, Mikhail Bulgakov, and many other authors. “Having sunk down to the ground, the sun exactly as though prior to the misfortune, stretched its rays all the way to the tiles of the stove, illuminated with a brownish glow the coffee-colored wallpaper, and hung on the wall, like a woman's shawl, the shadow of the birch branches,” was the way Boris Pasternak compared nature to a woman’s shawl. Sergey Esenin’s comparison is shorter: “The snow is coming down hard and spreading its shawl.”

In the middle of the previous century, the shawl could be seen on the shoulders of film characters; such stars of Soviet cinema as Lyubov Orlova, Lidia Smirnova, and Marina Ladynina wore it on screen. It was appropriate at the front and behind the lines, in the street, at work, or at home; it warmed women in Leningrad during the Blockade, in hospitals, or in damp trenches. And in all these scenes, the shawl had an important role, conveying the characters’ psychological state. 

The Orenburg shawl is popular among modern Russian designers, too. A good evidence of that is the fall and winter collection of the A La Russe brand designed by Anastasia Romantsova. The designer’s long slim-waisted dresses, full skirts, loose sweaters, and coats decorated with silvery kaleidoscopic ornaments that follow the Orenburg patterns offer a new interpretation of Russian traditions.

The exhibition can be visited from Tuesday to Sunday from 11:00 to 19:00. Cost of an entrance ticket: free of charge for visitors under 16; 15 rubles for a discounted ticket; 30 rubles for a full-price ticket. Cost of a guided visit: 30 rubles for visitors under 16 and for a discounted ticket; 45 rubles for a full-price ticket.

Background information:

The Orenburg down shawl is a shawl knitted from the down of Orenburg goats (the finest in the world) and the warp yarn. It is this special down that makes the shawls so delicate and soft. There are several kinds of Orenburg shawls: thick and warm, for everyday use, and festive “pautinkas” (“spider webs”) - lace shawls from finely spun down and silk. 



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