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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

How to Identify Where Boxes Were Crafted

The four centers of lacquer-miniature painting each have their own traditions. Here are some tips to tell them apart.

Palekh: Boxes in the Palekh tradition are distinguished by the fact that the miniature is not separated from the black background by a line. The sky is never depicted in a color, and the clouds are drawn with gold paint. The people are very elongated, portrayed in a very stylized manner and the dominant colors are red, black and gold.

Mstera: These miniatures are always enclosed by a line separating it from the black background. The sky is painted with blue, pink, golden or orange tones, and clouds are not drawn in gold. Figures are more true to life than those of Palekh, and the colors are more subtle.

Fedoskino: These boxes are easy to recognize because they are the only ones painted in oil. (The other types use tempera.) Another feature is the use of a technique where translucent paint is applied to a layer of gold leaf or mother of pearl. This gives the viewer the impression that the colors glow from within.

KholuI: This is the youngest center of lacquer miniatures and combines elements of the Mstera and Palekh traditions. Gold or silver ornament usually separates the miniature from the background and the miniatures depict many scenes on the same surface. Kholui boxes are usually brighter than those of Palekh and Mstera.