Golden embroidery. What is the only city in Russia that owns his technique?

Russia is famous for its ancient cities and is proud of its established traditions. It is pleasant to realize that they are not only spoken about and remembered, but also passed down from generation to generation. Did you know that in Russia there is only one city that arose in the era of Ancient Rus’, where gold embroidery originated and continues to exist? And this city is Torzhok. Read about it and the unique craft in our article.

A little about Torzhok

Before starting a conversation about the gold embroidery craft, let’s get acquainted with the city itself. It is located not far from Moscow, in the Tver region, and the first mention of it dates back to 1139. Archaeologists claim that this town was founded in the Novgorod Republic, which occupied not the last place in trade. Therefore, Torzhok used to be called Novy Torg. During internecine wars, it was ruined more than once, and in 1371 it suffered from a strong fire.

In the 15th century, they even minted their own coin here, and after the founding of St. Petersburg, Torzhok became a link between the two capitals. Once, Catherine the Great herself ordered the construction of a travel palace here, which was done in 1776. The provincial town is famous for Orthodox culture. Before the revolution, there were about forty churches in it – now there are ten, the other fifteen are in varying degrees of abandonment, but the Borisoglebsky Monastery is flourishing.

Torzhok in the 15th century

The picturesque landscapes of the city in the Tver region annually delight large groups of tourists. They sometimes do not understand where so many architectural monuments come from in such a small place. This is due to the competitive spirit of the merchants, who wished to glorify their good name and contribute to the development of their native land. A. S. Pushkin did not bypass the province either, which explains the presence of the city in the tourist route “Pushkin Ring of the Upper Volga Region”. The poet stayed about twenty-five times at the Pozharsky Hotel and was extremely pleased. By the way, not far from the city, in the village of Prutnya, there is a symbolic grave of Anna Kern, to whom the lines “I remember a wonderful moment …” are dedicated.

The road from the Moscow Leningradsky railway station to Torzhok on the high-speed electric train “Lastochka” will take about three hours, and if you have a personal car, then along the M-10 highway you will not even notice how you find yourself here. Take your friends and family with you and go on a tour.

Torzhok

Golden sewing

The very first information about this art arose as early as the 2nd century in the Kingdom of Pergamon, and then in Rome. It reached Russia only by the 11th century and became especially famous thanks to the Novotorzhsky craftswomen. After several hundred years, only in this city it was possible to preserve the sewing technique in its original form. For some time, it was mistakenly believed that the craft was somehow connected with the Mongol-Tatar peoples, but in 2010 archaeologists found a treasure trove that contained things embroidered with gold and silver threads.

In fact, not every girl had sewing skills, so they were taught the craft in local monastic workshops. The heyday of embroidery culture came in the 17th century. By this time, Torzhok had already formed its own school: the products were distinguished by the high quality of the materials used, a variety of ornaments and motifs. Almost all clothes were decorated with gold embroidery: hats, sundresses, shirts, wallets, belts and much more.

The annual Nizhny Novgorod fair gathered merchants from many regions, merchants also came from Torzhok. Products embroidered with gold were in great demand, because they testified to material prosperity and were generally quite a fashionable phenomenon. Those who did not manage to get to the fair personally came to the craftswomen and made individual orders. By the way, Pushkin, having seen belts embroidered with gold in Pozharsky’s hotel, bought them as a gift for Princess V.F. Vyazemskaya and sent it to her with the words: “He will plug all the charm of Moscow into his belt, as soon as he puts on my belts.”

Belts

Once, gold embroiderers completed an order for the imperial court and embroidered coats of arms on porphyry. Some samples are still kept in the Hermitage and the Armory of St. Petersburg. Needless to say, the very clothes of the highest ranks and members of the royal family were embroidered with gold patterns. When the appearance of the uniforms changed, the creativity of craftsmen came in handy here too. In modern Russia, it is still relevant to embroider the uniforms of officers of various troops and services precisely from Novotorzhsky needlewomen.

In the second half of the 19th century, fashion trends changed not only in Moscow and St. Petersburg, but throughout the Russian Empire, so the demand for works decreased significantly. In order to further support the craft, it was decided to organize an enterprise and unite all craftswomen under one roof. In 1898, a special training workshop was opened and the skills no longer need to be passed on from generation to generation within the family, they can be obtained by everyone. Thirty years later, the institution received the status of a Vocational Technical School.

In addition to museums, the exhibits were shown not only at Russian exhibitions, but also at foreign ones: in Milan, Paris, New York, Philadelphia, Brussels and other cities of the world.

Exhibit

The School of Artistic Sewing successfully prepares professionally trained girls who continue the traditions established several centuries ago. The organization is completely budgetary, so if you have long dreamed of mastering a new hobby, take note. The modern assortment is much wider than the previous one, here you can find any gifts: from clothes and accessories to household utensils. Paintings and icons are of particular value.

Torzhok gold embroiderers actively participate in festivals and win awards. For example, they managed to receive the Golden Spindle award three times. In 2015, President Vladimir Putin presented Pope Francis with a skillfully embroidered panel depicting the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. It incredibly impressed everyone with its beauty and was received with admiration.

President and Pope

The threads, of course, are only plated with gold and silver, however, working with them is quite difficult. They are the main element of creative results. More products are complemented by beads, pearls, semi-precious stones on silk, velvet, suede and other expensive fabrics. Floral ornaments with original Russian motifs, figures of birds and animals look original.

The following fact allows us to evaluate the painstaking work: it takes a needlewoman more than thirty hours to embroider one small cosmetic bag. It’s all about special seams that need to be done correctly and accurately and combined so that the picture looks harmonious. The embroidery itself is preceded by an equally difficult stage: the development of an original and memorable design.

Museum

If you still thought that there could be nothing interesting in the province, then you were wrong. In Torzhok, an ordinary craft could turn into a real art. Although gold embroidery is unknown to the whole world, it is unique, durable and truly beautiful.

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