SHOWCASE 10. RUSSIAN TABLEWARE OF THE 17TH CENTURY

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Showcase 10. Russian tableware of the 17th century

Precious utensils, represented in the showcase, were used for serving ceremonial feasts at the Russian court during many centuries. The display includes different types of tableware: plates, drinking ladles, globe-shaped loving cups, tankards, various cups etc. The items were made of wood, clay, silver and gold. Executed of rare, precious materials and decorated with delicate ornaments, engraved inscriptions, niello and gems, Russian tableware is considered to be real pieces of art.

Ostentatious cutlery and dishware were manufactured at the Gold and Silver Chambers and were kept in a special office placed between the Archangel and Annunciation Cathedrals. The collection includes drinking ladles (kovsh), loving cups (bratina), drinking vessels on bases (korchik), pouring vessels (endova), standing cups (kubok), wine cups (charka), tankards, and salt cellars from gold and silver.

Charka is made of semiprecious stones (crystal, agate, cornelian, jasper) and exotic materials, such as coral, mother-of-pearl, coconut shells and ostrich eggs. Many of these articles were of foreign manufacture and were brought by foreign traders or purchased abroad for the Russian court.

Each Kovsh is made from a single nugget of gold and weights from one-and-a-half to two kilograms. Such vessels were rarely used for drinking, usually on special feast days only. The rest of the time they stood on special sideboards (postavets) as symbols of the richness of the tsar’s court.

Bratina is a ceremonial bowl which form is based on an Old Russian utensil. It was widely used in royal and noble families and was an essential part of the feast day tableware. The name was derived from the Russian word ‘brat’, meaning brother.

Korchik was widely used in Russia in the 17th century as a drinking vessel for strong drinks. Similar in a form to Russian kovsh, they resemble images of swimming birds. The inside and outside of this utensil were usually decorated with embossed ornament and precious stones; its spout was finished with a casted bead or sculptural embellishment in the form of a flower or mask; rims of this vessel bore engraved inscriptions with names of their owners with exhortations or wishes.

Endova is a vessel similar in its form to large bratina with a spout. It was used in Old Rus during many centuries for mead, beer or wine. There is only one endova presented within the Armoury exposition. The decoration of this vessel is based on the alternation of smooth, polished ovolo (a convex moulding having a cross section in the form of a quarter of a circle or ellipse) and ovolo with a flat-chased foliate ornament. The engraved inscription running on the rim on the top of this spherical vessel describes that it was granted to Vassily Ivanovich Streshnev, one of the relatives of Tsarina Eudokia Lukyanovna, the second wife of Mikhail Fyodorovich.

Charka is a round drinking vessel, representative of traditional tableware of Old Rus. It was used for a special strong drink called "Tsar's wine". Charka was executed of precious metals, rare wood, semiprecious stones and decorated with chased foliate design or images of birds and pelagians. The delicate ornamental decoration of this cup also included inscription with the name of its owner.

Drinking ladle (kovsh)Loving cup (bratina)Drinking vessel (korchik)BeakerBowl (endova)Wine cup (charka)