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Hair cutters, shufflers, rag-makers: What were children's toys in Ancient Russia
Hair cutters, shufflers, rag-makers: What were children's toys in Ancient Russia
What toys did children have in the days of Ancient Rus

Children have had toys since time immemorial. True, these toys were very different from those played by modern kids. However, it is not excluded that modern children spoiled with gadgets with great pleasure would take a shuffler or a rag-maker in their hands.

Archaeologists date the earliest toys discovered on the territory of modern Russia to the 2nd century BC. These were rattles, figures of people, clay hatchets. Wooden toys - nursery rhymes - appeared in Russia in the 9th century. In ancient times, toys were made for children by the parents themselves from scrap materials. Therefore, ancient toys are characterized by laconic techniques and ease of manufacture.

Artist Karl Lemokh. "Varka". (1893)

Eco Friendly Baby Toys

According to pediatricians, toys are essential for newborns as they help develop sensorimotor coordination. Now you can buy any options, from ordinary rattles to complex hanging structures. Our ancestors did not lag behind in this, and made toys for newborns with their own hands. From the first days, the baby received nursery rhymes - this is how toys were called in ancient times.

Birch bark sharkunks

For very little ones, they made shuffles, that is, rattles. They were made from dried poppy seed boxes, from scraps of cloth with bells sewn on. There were also birch bark rattles, which were filled with seeds or small pebbles, therefore they had a pleasant sound for the baby.

Older children played rattles made from the bladders of cows, sheep, and other domestic animals. For this, the bubble was thoroughly washed, cleaned of fat with ash, then a little dried peas were put into it and inflated through an ordinary straw.

All nursery rhymes were made from natural materials - they were spruce cones, wood, straw, clay. To hang the cradle in Russia, bells, rattles, various rattles, bright rags were used. These were all called trinkets. By the way, the parents did this not only in order to teach the baby to concentrate his gaze or to touch his fingers: they believed that the trinkets would protect the baby from damage and evil spirit.

Toys for the development of the child's abilities

The kid was growing up, he needed toys that could shape his motor skills, thinking. Today, there are many products in a wide variety of materials, painted in bright, attractive colors. In ancient times, these objects were made of wood, but the meaning was exactly the same as today. The pyramid had to be assembled, the cubes had to be made in a certain way, the rings had to be thrown on the stick.

During the Soviet era, the toy "Anvil" was very popular - a bear and a blacksmith sat at the ends of a log and, when moving the base, were a hammer. This amusing fun also came from Ancient Russia.

Toy "Anvil"

There were little jerks, that is, pupae with body parts connected by threads. They moved in a funny way and were a great example of a dynamic toy.

The most popular subject of active children's games was the ball. Historians found mention of him in ancient chronicles of the 10th century. They made balls from rags: the fabric frame was stuffed with rags. Sometimes birch bark was used for manufacturing, it could also be linden or willow. These balls were heavier because their insides were generously packed with fine sand. There were balls that were scattered from the remains of sheep's wool.And the boys and girls were happy to shoot from a bow, which was made from an elastic tree branch and ordinary rope or bull's vein.

Labor training toys

Peasant children in the old days began to work very early on an equal basis with adults. This was reflected in toys: for boys, carts and bodies, whips, harnesses for horses and even toy carpentry tools were made from birch bark. As for the girls, they were given toy wooden utensils, furniture, spinning wheels and spindles. Unlike nursery rhymes for very little children, such "labor" toys were very simple, not elegant. Apparently, so that the child can feel that life is work.


Of course, children's wealth consisted not only of toy objects of labor. There were other fun, for example, dolls. They were often called "dummies", these simple wooden dolls were made by a father or grandfather for their little ones. The simplicity of the dummy opened up space for the child's imagination, made it possible to endow it with different features, and use it for improvisation.

Dolls: toys and amulets at the same time

Many dolls were intended not only for play - they were symbols, amulets. For example, krupenichki, that is, simple dolls from a rag bag with grain poured into it. These toys were beautifully decorated and considered very important. They were kept, displayed in a prominent place in the house, and the children played with them carefully. Krupenichki were filled with selected grain (buckwheat, oats). Such a doll was a symbol of prosperity, wealth, well-being and satiety. Today they are classified as souvenirs and are presented for a wedding or family celebration.

Hair cutters, dancing dolls

Motanks and dolls made of thread were extremely popular. They were made by both adults and children, they were used in order to calm, amuse or lull the baby. They were also considered amulets that protect against disease, evil eye and damage. The Slavs believed that in every reeled doll there is the spirit of an ancestor. Often it was passed down from generation to generation so that the threads that bind the genus do not break.

Another doll, a shearing machine, was made of dry straw, bast, twigs. Representatives of these dolls are even in the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. Sometimes healing and fragrant herbs were woven into them, it was a kind of aromatherapy. The doll dressed in a beautiful sarafan, a handkerchief, a blouse. The bottom did not braid, but opened up, representing a kind of skirt. If you put a haircut on a flat surface and bang your fist next to it, then it will dance - it will spin and turn, therefore they are often called dancing dolls.

Rag girl - a doll with female forms

One of the most common dolls was the rag woman. She did not have a face, but the female breast was emphasized, which personified the cult of fertility. For beauty, the rag woman was dressed in clothes that were worn in the region where she was made. The dress for the doll was sewn once, and she wore it, without taking it off, all her doll life. Girls decorated clothes with beads, braid, embroidery, thereby honing their skills.

Rag dolls

These toys were so common that even among the poor people in the hut you could see a dozen funny rag women. Later, when dolls were made in factories, and expensive porcelain was used for heads, the rag-makers gradually began to fade into the background. But even in those families where they could afford to buy an expensive doll young lady, traditional folk dolls were used, and more expensive toys were given to children on holidays.

Many of the readers will remember and Soviet toys loved by entire generations.

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