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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: Koromyslo

Константин Маковский A girl with koromyslo. Konstantin Makovsky, 1874.

For centuries, women in Russia’s rural areas have depended on yokes - U-shaped wooden devices called koromyslo to haul heavy buckets of water from fresh water sources such a0s rivers and wells to their homes.

The beams are cut long and are steamed to allow them to bend slightly, while remaining strong enough to sustain the weight of buckets, baskets, or small tubs. Most koromyslo are made of beech, birch, hazel or maple and have grooves carved in the center for the neck. In addition, the ends have hooks, used to secure portable products (i.e. water, clothes or produce washed in the river).  Koromyslo balances across the shoulders and upper back to distribute weight and make transporting goods easier.

Women gathered and chatted at the river before filling their buckers and walking the often long distance back home. The tradition of fetching water is accompanied by a ritual. Two empty buckets should be held in the left hand, and the koromyslo held in the right. The beam is loaded back to front as opposed to front to back.

In the past, in some villages, Russian brides would bring a decorated koromyslo complete with bucket of water on their wedding day.  If a girl managed not to spill a drop, it was a sign of her strength and of the balance she would bring to her new family.

Written by Staci Bivens for RT