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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



thin, flat ceramic slabs used for covering fireplaces, stoves, and walls. The Russian term izraztsy properly applies only to tiles that are hollow, like an open box on the back, so that they can be secured. Tiles are made manually or in wooden forms from moderately malleable potter’s marlaceous or faience clay. After shaping, they are dried and then fired in furnaces at temperatures reaching 1150°C. There are flat, corner, and cornice tiles.

Tiles have been known in Europe since the eighth century, but they became widespread in the 16th and 17th centuries. White tiles with a blue design predominated in Germany, Holland, and Switzerland; the designs were ornamental at first, but representational motifs eventually appeared. In 16th-century Russia, tiles were also used to decorate facades (friezes, door and window frames, cornices, and inserts). It soon became the practice to cover terra-cotta relief tiles with a green glaze and, after the 1650’s, with enamels in bright contrasting colors, in response to the decorative traits becoming popular in architecture. The tiles were painted primarily with ornamental designs, but some representational designs were also used.

From the early 18th century, tiles were used exclusively on stoves. They were usually flat with bright multicolored designs, but also white with blue designs, in imitation of the Dutch models. In the 1860’s, polychromatic tiles (“in the Russian style”) began to be manufactured again for both exteriors and interiors. Monochromatic tiles with fluid iridescent glazes appeared at the turn of the 20th century, with the advent of the modernist style. At present, tiles are manufactured mainly for the exteriors of stoves in the USSR (mostly in the Ukraine), and in East Germany, West Germany, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. The traditions of the art of tile-making are further developed in ceramic mosaics and decorative facings that use ceramic pieces.


Filippov, A. V. Drevnerusskie izraztsy, issue 1. Moscow, 1938.
Voronov, N. V. “Russkie izraztsy 18 veka.” In the collection Pamiatniki kul’tury, issue 2. Moscow, 1960.
Jonge, C. H. de. Oud-nederlandsche majolica en Delfts aardewerk. Am-sterdam, 1947.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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