Thursday, August 12, 2010
I wasn't sure what I wanted to write about today, but then I remembered a photo my lovely friend Jaime sent to me. It was a photo of a Russian souvenir store in New York City. So it got me thinking about what types of souvenirs come from Russia.
Since I planned to go to Izmailovsky Park, Moscow's famous souvenir market, it seemed like a plan. Izmailovsky Park pretty much has any kind of Russian souvenir or sketchy "could be black market" item your heart desires.
I'm going to focus on the ones that are legal to bring back to the United States, which means that none of you are getting an AK-47 as a souvenir-sorry.
My favorite souvenir are the lacquer boxes. They range in size from massive jewelry boxes to itty bitty pill boxes. Likewise the prices of the boxes can vary from $2.00 to the sky's the limit for the very detailed one. The themes painted on the boxes are typically from Russian fairy tales, but you can find ones painted to look like famous paintings or famous Russian landmarks as well.
If there's one souvenir that'll get the roubles out of my pocket, it's a lacquer box.
Another popular souvenir is amber, the petrified sap of trees.
You can find this attached to various forms of jewelry from rings to necklaces,
or full of creepy little critters.
Likewise, jewelry made from semi-precious stones are also a big souvenir hit.
And then there are the matryoshka dolls-the famous nesting dolls. These are the epitome of ancient Russian folk art, right? Wrong! They didn't actually come to Russian until 1890 when Sergei Maliutin saw Japanese nesting dolls & decided to create a Russian version. The dolls earned a bronze metal at the World's Fair. However, just because they aren't officially native to Russia, doesn't mean that you can't enjoy the little buggers.
Other souvenirs can range from traditional-like folk art on plates & jewelry,
to old Soviet gear & kitschy Soviet style goods (Soviet Union flask & shot glasses, anyone? They'll match your gas mask nicely).
to old Soviet cameras that the seller assured me work "perfectly."
So that's a run down of what souvenirs you can find in Russia. I have more nesting dolls than one person should ever own, so I kept my hands away from the rubles and on my camera instead.