For some reason people are more interested in faraway countries and unknown lands. But is it impossible to find something original and interesting in the expanses of Russia? It often happens that somewhere in a lost village you can find so much of pristine beauty, which you will remember as much as about an overseas voyage.
If you happen to be in Mordovia, then look at the museum of the city of Saransk. In the museum you will discover a colorful, truly fairy-tale world. For each thing here is a first-class example of Mordovian folk decorative art, preserving both the aroma of antiquity and the unique handwriting of an unknown master.
This is an extensive collection of national costumes - embroidered linen women’s and men’s shirts, bright patterns of shushpans and warmers, festively embroidered belts. And hats, which have long worn Mordovian girls and women. And artistic woodwork: salt shakers in the form of horses and birds, perfect in shape, massive bowls, decorated with carvings. And many other wonders. Several generations collected and stored these treasures.
Anyone who once met a surprisingly colorful and decorative Mordovian embroidery, certainly will not confuse it with any other richness of various compositional solutions and ornamental elements. But perhaps the most distinctive feature of it is various supplements: colorful beads, tinsel, patterned cloth pieces, copper plaques, cowry shells, pigtails woven from colored wool, buttons of various shapes and sizes.
All these decorations are perfectly consistent with the pattern, emphasizing with great tact and taste the original color of embroidery, which is dominated by muted red and dark blue colors. A variety of texture and often voluminous additions give it a special monumentality.
“First you will hear Mordovka, and then you will see,” they talked about an old woman's suit with ringing and noisy pendants. Sewing beads, too, was widespread in the decoration of clothing. They were made headgear, shoulder and belt, neck jewelry. The beads were either sewn onto thick material — canvas, leather, or strung on thick, stark thread, wire, horsehair. These two methods in various versions and combinations were applied throughout the territory of Mordovia.
From time immemorial, Mordovian peasants wove pestrade - the simplest patterned fabric with a characteristic coloring and pattern: a large cell of narrow red stripes across a white field. From such colored homespuns they sewed aprons, and a variety of darker colors was used to make tablecloths and pillowcases. From the patterned fabric, they also made waist and head towels, the ends of which were decorated with ornaments that echoed the embroidery of clothes. This ornament was exclusively geometric: diamonds, stripes, squares, broken lines were found in various combinations.
Only men have always been engaged in the artistic processing of wood: they perfectly mastered the skills of making household items from wood, as well as the skill of building residential and farm buildings. Deaf bas-relief carvings in Mordovian villages have long been decorated with cornices, gables, frontal boards and platbands of houses, gates. Later, sawing, or openwork, replaces the blind thread, into which the craftsmen, like in lace, were dressed up at home. Dishes, spinning wheels and various utensils were decorated with contour and trihedral-grooved threads.
And the children early mastered the technique of making woodcarving, inlays, mosaics, painting fabrics and embossing. From an early age, girls studied Mordovian folk embroidery, knitted from colored wool, familiarized themselves with the basics of modeling, and created bead jewelery.
But most importantly, they learned to appreciate folk art and create beauty with their own hands.