These parts which are called Russian Switzerland are almost second to no other place in Russia. This land proved to be nearly one of the most mysterious Russian lands for foreigners. Only the Years of restructuring have drawn apart the iron curtains. This mystery owes a lot to the fact that it used to be and still is a backbone of the industry of the country and we sort of discover the Urals inviting you to have a good look at its most remarkable nook — Zlatoust.
The name itself attracts attention due to its euphony. The city of gold mouth was named so after the apostle John Zlatoust (Gold-mouthed).
The continental mountain range that fences the city in the east is one of the chief attractions. Here is the most northen point of the range that has given the name to the whole place.
Zlatoust is one of the latest European typically mining cities. It’s one of the cities that have been established at the time when the budding industry of the Urals was going to set up a cornerstone of the national industry. Almost for two centuries and a half the people of Zlatoust have been producing top — quality metal. Even at present the local steel — melting plant is one of the major plants in the country for melting special types of steel.
Zlatoust is at the craddle of Russian scientific metallurgy. It’s initiator Pavel Anosov puzzled out by trial and error the secret of damask steel. Russian damask steel that has gained renown in the world is Pavel Anosov’s work. It started a galaxy of scientists from Zlatoust who went down into the history of Russian technical ideas. E. G. Pavel Obuchov is among them. He cast cannons which by far excelled the famous Krupp cannons in militarry capacities. In the Park of the city Plevniy (Bulgaria) they stand as monuments to the glory of Russian Weapon that put an end to Turkish yoke. There are cannons also at the entrance of Zlatoust arsenal.
Zlatoust blades are even more famous than steel cannons of Obuchov. And suitably they adorn the best weapon collections. They are to be found in Hermitage, in the State Historical museum, the central museum of Armed Forces on the USSR and other leading museums of the country. Rich collections of the white and decorated weapons are presented in the local museum and at the machine-producing plant which incorporated into its territory arms fasto- ry. Its history directly interweaves in the topic of our album-book.
The names of Zlatoustye such as Kosotur, Urenga, Nurgush, Yurma, Taganay sound quaint and not at all Russian-like. Most of them failed to be explained. Their mystery survived the tribes that populated the area before the Russian and Bashkir. As to Frigental, which is the name of a nook on the bank of the town pool, the favourite place of recreation it comprises two German words reajusted to Russian: Serene or Spring valley.
German craftsmen took liking for Frigental. They came from Zollinger and Klingental in 1815 at personal invitation of emperor Alexander I to master arms production. That township in the Urals was chosen to be a site for small arms factory due to several reasons. At the beginning of the 19 th century the Urals were a world centre of metallurgy. The Urals gained mining and arms fame in the times immemorial. Rich deposits of jasper were to be found there. Jasper was called the damask steel of stone age. Dozens of arms workshops of that time on a par with ancient copper pits in the vicinity have been discovered at present by archeologists. The ancient cities in Arkaim, Sintash and dozens of others have become a world-wide sensation. These cities, the most ancient ones 3,5 thousand years old were the cities of metallurgists of the bronze age. The arms made of local metal are found in burials thousands of miles from the Urals.
Zlatoust mining plant as many others is situated on Chudskiy mines that is the local name for ancient mines Zlatoust plant was founded by Ivan Mosolov a businesman from Tula which since the times immemorial was the centre of metallurgy and arms production. The people from Tula built the plant and became its first workers.
Everything boils down to show that arms currying could have been put into practice in Zlatoust relying only on Russian resources. But here we face another question: could it have been brought to such perfection for such a short period of time.
German gunsmiths were considered to be the best in Europe at that time. Russian citizen Gerchart Eversmann who had made a successful career in Russia conducted negotiations with them. The contract cost the treasury 234 723 roubles.
German gunsmiths payed for themselves at large. In 1815 the first Zlatoust blades were already sent to the capital. In a year again there were a lot of blades and two years later the Russian army received 17 000 blades. .Since that time on they used to manufacture twice as much. Among specialists from Zollin- gen and Klingental there were true experts such as blade smiths the Volfs, experts in polishing and whetting the Gras, in etching and gilding blades the Shaafs.
One of the main conditions of the contract with German Gunswiths was teaching Russians their skills. Most promising and literate plant boys were apprenticed to each of them. They proved to be worthy of their teachers having mas tered rapidly forging, sharpening, polishing and other operations of blades manufacture. They also mastered the manufacture of the most complicated gala dress blades. Ivan Bushuev became a chief engraver already in 1818 in the department of decorated weapon. His teachers Vilgelm, Nicholas and Ludwig Shaaf granted that right to their apprentice still retaining responsibile for general managment. In 5 years Bushuev became the head of the department. In his application for resignation the eldest of the Shaaf declared that «the main plant in Zolingen was not capable to manufacture such a weapon that had already been produced in Zlatoust».
Ivan Bushuev and his fellow apprentices Ivan Boyarshinov, brothers Telesnikov initiated that original trade and now unique trade — the Zlatoust engraving on steel. It stems from the experience of Russian gunsmiths, experts from Tula and German specialists from Zolingem and Klingental. Even when an apprentice Ivan Bushuev began to introduce his innovations: that new had to do with the technique of engraving. For eg. Bushuev decorated the blade with a brush while his teacher achieved it by using a pin. Together with Boyarshinov they perfected bluing and burnishing achieving the scale of colours from black to blue. Drawings differ remarkably. Russian engravers don’t confine themselves to transferring on the blades classic scenes and decorations. They draw giving a full stretch to their fancy. As a mouth-to-mouth legend has it and in a fable of the Urals writer Pavel Bazov Ivan Bushuev was nicknamed Ivanko-Krilatko (with wings). He drew Pegas a symbol of creativity on the blad^. Hence the winged horse came to be a part of the city's coat-of-arms. There is a monument to Bushuev in Zlatoust.
The first in the galaxy of Zlatoust engravers he nearly was the most talanted of them. His works are still second to none in beauty and skill of execution. But we should always bear in mind that each blade has been manufactured by a group of people. Its beauty depends not only upon engraving but on the quality of metal, polishing, sharpening, manufacture of a blade hilt and sheath people from his encirlument were akin to him. They manufactured not only blades but hunting knives and other engraved steel pieces. The real masterpiece of artistic metall processed by people from Zlatoust under Bushuev’s guidance was «Ancient arms» — which was stylized armour of a knight: cuirass, a steel helmet, a shield, a sword. It took 32 armourers 4 years to work at the armour that is on display in Zlatoust regional museum.
Ivan Boyarshinov succeeded to Ivan Bushuev. Under his guidance the people of Zlatoust began to engrave steel caskets, trays, small chests and coffers. The plant's chronicle registered a lot of the Boyarshinovs. Beside Ivan Andrei and Egor contributed to engraving. Each generation of Zlatoust steel engraving school had is own leading engravers Trofim Tsirlenkov, Nicholas Serovikov, Alexander Agarkow, Michael Petuchov, Jakob Varlamov, Dmitriy Jakovlev, Basil Kisi- lev, Alexander Boronnikov, Genadiy Bersenev. As a rule their masterpieces were rewarded diplomas and medals at Russian and international exhibitions:
London 1851 —a bronze medal Stolkhome 1855 — a gold medal London 1862 — a silver medal Paris 1867 — two silver medals Viena 1873 — a silver medal Paris 1878 — a gold medal Chicago 1893 — a bronze medal
We don’t know what exhibits were appreciated at the exhibitions. Perhaps it was not only «decorated arms». Since the second half of the last century it ceased to be a chief produce of Zlatoust engravers. They took up decorating houshold pieces. Since that time on engraved blades have been manufactured only in small quantities at request or just as presents. Techonology of engraving remained stable, intact despite all innovations and changes of style. The masters of Zlatoust proved by their works that even the most intricate and clever piece of decoration can not be perfect unless useful. That has to do not only with engraved blades but with coffers, writting accessories and table cover, with everything manufactured in Zlatoust.
That’s why manufacture of engraved table cover flourished here in the second half of the last century. Teams, craftsmen led successful competition with a decoration shop. It was more often than not that their forks, knives, spoons were decorated better and move originally. Table cover from Zlatoust was to be found over the country. They were also bought abroad.
Old masters handled every piece with reverence particularly when it was produced by themselves. They never resorted to vacant decorationism but just the other way round they raised it to a new level be it a knife or a Cossack sable. There are not any other natural forms of steel engraving but in its harmonic unity with the thing itself.
That’s why steel engraving survived the manufacture of side arms on a large scale in Zlatoust and in most difficult conditions of the first years after the Revolution.
1922 saw the produce of Zlatoust appear in the world market. Decorated hunting axes were in particular demand then. In the thirties they produced a lot of photoframes and table covers, plates for calenders, cigarette cases and matchholders. Decorated plates or panels substituted all that. They opened up a new so-called unapplied way of engraving development. Copies of Shishkin’s and Vasnetsov's pictures were made and sucessfully transfered to the steel.
Panel engravings constitute the largest part of their produce. But these are solely author’s works. Engravers decorate articlesmade of steel such as sports cubs, memorial presents, the frame of table clock. Engraving from Zlatoust doesn’t lose its applied character.
The latest years have been remarkable for interesting and creative thoughts. As usual their works are in demand. The school of Zlatoust is presented now by Anatoly Bogachev, Oleg Averkin, Elena Ignatova, Nina Lohtacheva.
The tradition of guilding of blades took deep roots the Urals although they were lost in Zolingen. The apprentices of German masters developed them, enriched and reformed them into a unique and distinctive trade — Zlatoust steel engraving.