Figure of a Woman
Artist/maker unknown, Russian
Dymkovo toys are molded painted clay figures of people and animals (occasionally in the form of a pennywhistle). For over 300 years they have been made in the village of Dymkovo, near the city of Kirov (formerly Vyatka). The figurines are based on ancient pagan deities, and traditionally they are made only by women and carried as good luck charms for agricultural events. In the late 19th century the craft fell into decline because of the flood of factory-made molded plaster statuettes; beginning in 1920s, however, the craft was revived. In 1933 the Vyatka Toy artel was established, and eventually it turned into a workshop of the Artistic Fund of the RSFSR. Dymkovo toys are now popular Russian souvenirs. The toys are molded from a mixture of local potter's clay and river sand. The parts of a toy are then fastened together with slip. After the toys are dried and tempered in a furnace, they are whitewashed with chalk diluted in milk, then painted in several colors, and sometimes decorated with gold leaf.