Karachun Toy

Once a rich Karachun pottery now known only for toys

Whistle toys by Ludmila Dedova
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The land around Karachun is rich in clay. In the process of making pottery utensils, the entire Karachun population was involved from small to large. According to statistical data for 1910 in the village of Karachun 200 potters were engaged in pottery and 300 thousand pots were produced annually.

Toys with whistles by Lyudmila Dedova
pinterest button Toys with whistles by Lyudmila Dedova Людмила Дедова, CC BY-SA 3.0

The dishes were taken to yamarkas (fairs). They were floated on barges up Voronezh river to the present Lipetsk region and downstream to the city of Voronezh and beyond. At the bottom of the river in places of the former piers still one may find old dishes.

There is a legend that before departure a pitcher was thrown into the water  from each barge - for good luck. Dishes were  carried in wagons. Craftsmen also went on foot to the surrounding bazaars. Fairs were organized in Karachun too. In the XIX century, three fairs were held annually: in May 21, June 23 and August 26.


Toys, as is often the case in pottery, have become an integral part of Karachun pottery. From the remains of clay, for the fun of children, the craftsman sculpted the figures, passing the familiar images of the surrounding world. These were dogs and goats, and funny peasant women in the form of the pot with handles.

Particularly children were pleased  ащк sonorous whistles with several holes for sound overflows. These whistles attracted people at fairs, helping to sell the main products.

Craftsman with birds by Galina Kotelnikova
pinterest button Craftsman with birds by Galina Kotelnikova Людмила Дедова, CC BY-SA 3.0

Rusty colors of horses and cows, pigs and dogs turned out not at all smooth, but on the contrary, rough, with fingerprints of the craftsperson and carelessly applied greenish glaze from a mixture of fuel oil and lead powder. Several such toys are displayed in the Toy Museum in Sergiev Posad.

However, the craft old-timers themselves believe that in Karachun never toys were in first place. The main thing always were pottery for everyday life, various utensils, pipes, and bricks.

«Lyamzin Toys»

Among the craftsmen of the Karachun pottery for the last century the name of the Lyamzins is most known.

Lyamzin Vasily Ivanovich (1927 –1998) — the last rural potter, who preserved the techniques and traditions of old crafts. More than fifty years he worked in a local artel, and was famous for his special toys. «Ljamziny toys» — so they are called now. His works are stored in the funds of the Voronezh regional museum of local lore, museums of applied art in Nizhny Novgorod, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Sergiev Posad.

'On the pig' whistle by Ludmila Dedova
pinterest button 'On the pig' whistle by Ludmila Dedova Людмила Дедова, CC BY-SA 3.0

Vasily Ivanovich had a variety of products. But most of all he is interesting with his toys with their surprising simplicity, plasticity and precision modeling.

Often Lyamzin was visited by local historians, teachers, researchers and amateurs of folk art from different cities of Russia. He used to meet all of them and shared his skill and gave away his toys.

Galina Kotelnikova (left) and Ludmila Dedova
pinterest button Galina Kotelnikova (left) and Ludmila Dedova Людмила Дедова, CC BY-SA 3.0

Continuing traditions

After Vasily Ivanovich and his wife, the «amusing craft» was continued by Ramona artists Galina Kotelnikova and her student Lyudmila Dedova.

Galina Ivanovna Kotelnikova studied personally from Vasily Lyamzin. Her most famous student is Lyudmila Dedova, an experienced craftsperson with more than 20 years of experience. Craftsmen began to engage in toy industry in the village of Karachun from their childhood.

Now Karachun toy is known in many parts of Russia. Let the history and creativity of Karachun craftsmen remain and continue as descendants.


You may see and buy now Karachun toys in our 'RUSSIAN CRAFTS' online store.


You may see and buy now Karachun toys in our 'RUSSIAN CRAFTS' online store.


In Voronezh region, near the village of Ramon, on the high bank of the river, stands Karachun. The village is old and famous by its pottery. People used to live in the vicinity of modern Karachun from old times. There were found ancient sites of the first centuries of our era and 5-3 centuries BC.

The village of Karachun was formed around the Karachunsky  monastery founded at the end of the 16th century. Local historians say that the pottery was adopted by the inhabitants of the village from the monastic novices. Pottery was prosperous there since the end of the XVIII century.


Karachun clay toy is a historical and cultural heritage of the Voronezh region. The value of the technology of its manufacture lies in the fact that the craftsmen have preserved to this day old traditional methods of molding.

Kotelnikova Galina Ivanovna and Dedova Lyudmila Viktorovna have the title of People's Craftspersons of Voronezh Region.

Features of  Karachun crafts

The most common in  Voronezh province is red clay, but one could find also pink, green, white and black clays. Black clay, when fired, becomes bright white. But most of all craftsmen appreciate the rare blue clay. At the exit from the stove, the pottery made of blue clay gets the color of baked milk.

Usually masters mix several clays.

The main difference of the Karachun toy from toys of the neighboring provinces is that it has no special embellishment, the plot is simplistic. There are no wonderful fairy-tale characters, everything is just from the surrounding reality. It is made of red clay with a transparent glaze of greenish shade.