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The revolution abruptly put an end to the work of the icon-making guilds, but the former "God-daubers" found an answer. They put their energies into the creation of papier-mache-based lacquer miniatures for which there was a demand in the young Soviet land. Maxim Gorky called the lacquer boxes "one of the miracles created by the revolution." Ivan Golikov, the first of the Palekh masters, said: "Our life has become beautiful, like our paintings and boxes. The revolution has transformed the tiresome, repetitive and routine labor that we used to do into a great, free art."

The work of the famed craft guilds of Palekh, Fedoskino, Mstera and Kholui – jewelry cases and caskets, powder boxes, cigaret boxes and glasses cases, goblets, albums – is shown here not in the usual form of splendid objects carried home by tourists as souvenirs "from Russia" but as a powerful weapon in the arsenal of socialist propaganda and state-building.

E. Gershkovich