Coming into the world we inherit the values of the past in speech, in art and simply in beautiful things. Falling asleep in granny's bed, we examine the patterns on her carpet. We wear the mittens and scarves that were knitted for us. We hang on to the toys with which more than one generation of children has played.
The clay toy is an art form which gives pleasure and joy to both adults and children. They are funny little figurines-fetishes. Some are shaped like men or bears, others are are women-birds, pretty little foxes, ladies and completely incomprehensible creatures called the ‘lickers’ (lizun). They fit into the palm of one's hand, they can sometimes whistle, and they are always in some kind of mood: happy, focused, surprised. Even if they look fierce, they are still not frightening: after all, they are so little and just need us to love them.
We would like to give our children, as they get to know the colours and patterns of clay toys in their play, a way of accessing the source which has fuelled true art with its immense energies down the ages.
The figures are painted brightly and boldly. Put them together and you will see that the ornamentation is never repeated: it is possible to design an almost endless number of combinations with these criss-crosses, herring-bones, circles, waves and stripes. The master-craftsmen in each of the clay toy traditions were used to decorating the toys in their own way. What is more the color of clay differs in each of the crafts. The colour palette of the clay toys literally contains the color of the ground and its inherent combinations of contrasting or complementary colors and shades. We would like to show the use of folk ornament in all its simplicity and variety. It is worth knowing and appreciating the beauty which the skilled artisans were and still are capable of creating, because when we appreciate and love simple beauty, we can come to love beauty which is complicated. Let's have more beauty.
Meanwhile we, together with our children, will learn to distinguish the combinations and forms of ornamentation as we play the game. For the design of the dominos we made use of clay toys — many of which were created over the last decade — in the private collection of Vadim Nazarov. Printing the patterns we tried to reproduce the authentic colors of the original painting, in order to show that every craft tradition is distinguished by its own unique choice of colours. Through our experience of the ornament on clay toys we can learn to see our world in the variety and complexity of its many hues.
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