Gzhel ceramics was named after the village in which this traditional Russian folk art began. Located in the Moscow Oblast, the village of Gzhel was the sole producer of this specific artwork starting in 1802. Today, there are over 30 villages in that same region that produce the pottery and ship it throughout Russia.
Similar to how khokhloma painting is easily identifiable by its striking black, red and gold designs, gzhel ceramics stand out for their white backgrounds and intricate blue decorations. The earliest pieces were made from earthenware, and then developed into clay pottery. Russian artists eventually discovered how to produce porcelain and that became the preferred material for the artworks.
Dishes were the first pieces to be mastered by gzhel art, but it became so popular in Russia that the design has been used to adorn buildings, chapels, and even vehicles! There is even an award winning Gzhelka vodka! The Gzhel Arts School teaches the craft to encourage younger generations to continue the tradition.
Just like matryoshka dolls and the balalaika, gzhel ceramics is a significant Russian invention and cultural tradition. Bring a beautiful gzhel souvenir home from your next Russian vacation so you can always be reminded of the beauty of Russian women!