From February 22 to April 9, 2023, the exhibition “Orenburg Downy Shawl” was presented at the Russian House in Brussels, which introduced the Belgian public to the works of the best knitters of the Orenburg region, whose art is a high artistic and quality criteria that characterize the world-famous down knitting craft.
Since the end of the 18th century, in the Orenburg region, in the very heart of Russia, there has been a world-famous craft “Orenburg downy shawl”. Orenburg downy shawl is a collective name. This is a warm heavy scarf – a shawl and a thin, light, openwork scarf – a “spider line”. The peculiarities of the down of local goats prompted the idea of creating a light, warm and necessary thing in a women’s suit – a scarf. The occupation, which originated as a source of additional income, turned out to be so profitable and in demand that in many settlements knitting downy scarves often became the only source of income.
The experience of the first down-knitting craftswomen was passed on and honed from generation to generation, the process of accumulation and improvement of handicraft and technical skills was going on. As a result of collective experience, an artistic system of craft was formed, and the Orenburg downy shawl became what we know it to be.
For more than 250 years, all operations for the manufacture of scarfs have been carried out manually. Women comb a goat by hand, spin a thread on a spindle and knit a scarf by hand on knitting needles.
The exposition will feature traditional downy shawls and “spider webs” from the gold fund of the Orenburg craft, photographs, albums about downy knitting craft. Spectators will surely be imbued with boundless respect for the works of Orenburg down-knitters, they will be amazed at the mastery of their creations.