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Leo Tolstoy and Sophia Bers

23 September

On September 23, 1862, Count Leo Tolstoy married Sophia, the daughter of his friend Andrey Behrs. The wedding took place in the court church of the Kremlin, the groom being 34 and the bride aged 18. The union of almost fifty years produced 13 children and some of Tolstoy's best works of literature, but eventually turned bitterly unhappy.…

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Peter Carl Faberge

Peter Carl Faberge was a world famous master jeweler and head of the ‘House of Faberge’ in Imperial Russia in the waning days of the Russian Empire.

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Of Russian origin: Rukomoinik

Photo from http://www.samovarchiki.ru Photo from http://www.samovarchiki.ru

The rukomoinik - literally "hand-washer" - is a simple water dispenser, used in the Russian countryside or wherever water mains aren’t available. For centuries it provided a lasting supply of water that was sealed from outside dirt and was easy to get at when one needed it. Many Russians either have childhood memories, or indeed still use a rukomoinik in their country homes, or dachas, as such properties have only recently started being connected to the water mains.

The pictures show what is basically a bucket with a lid and a small pipe coming out of the bottom. The feeder mechanism is beautifully simple. The weight of the water pushes the tap shut. When someone pushes the stopper up, against the force of gravity keeping it shut, out comes the water!

Water collected off the roof into barrels could become contaminated with everything from leaves to dead rats. Going to fetch water was tiresome. Of course there were available sealed containers, but the rukomoinik was a way of bringing a small amount inside the house, available to dispense whenever needed. 

The word sealed is used loosely, because contamination with bacteria, rust or other unpleasant elements was only a matter of time.

A simple but hugely useful creation, this little water dispenser is now slowly disappearing from dachas all over Russia as water pipes are laid and sinks installed.

Written by Tom Barton, RT correspondent