Soviet Kislovodsk Porcelain Chessmen
Soviet Kislovodsk Porcelain Chessmen chessmen made in Kislovodsk, Stavropol Territory, RSFSR, with Caucasus warriors as chessmen. The King stands 4-0” tall with a 1.3” octagonal base. The chessmen were produced in the Soviet Union porcelain factory Kislovodsk. The chess pieces feature Polychrome overglaze painting with gold accents. One army sports velvet base pads, the other bears the red company insignias. The design was displayed at the exhibition “Porcelain in the UDSSR” in 1989 in Bonn on the occasion of the visit of Michail Gorbatchov to Helmut Kohl in Germany.
According to Isaak Linder, the design goes back to Georgian porcelain artists from the Zugdidi Porcelain factory in Zugdidi/Georgia (Linder, Schach – Schachfiguren im Wandel der Zeit, p. 83, 122-125). However, the set shown by Linder differs slightly from this set in that the bishops are wearing capes rather than hats and the colors are much darker in the set attributed by Linder to the Zugdidi porcelain factory. The set offered here was sold under the brand of the Kislovodsk porcelain factory, located some 200 miles away on the Russian side of the border.
The Soviet Kislovodsk Porcelain Chessmen are shown in traditional Georgian or Caucasian dress. The Kings are dressed in a “chokha”. It is a typical and very traditional type of garment and a Georgian symbol of pride, worn until today on many formal occasions. The uniform of the king is completed with a richly embroidered overcoat called “burka”, a hood-like headdress wrapped around the neck called “bashlyk”, a traditional hat called “papakha” and the traditional Cossack dagger called “khanjali”. The Queen is likewise dressed in the traditional dress of a rich Georgian woman. She is wearing a long dress called “kartuli”, with a beautifully decorated belt. The traditional headdress consists of a white veil called “lechaki”, a thin bolster called “kopi” and a rim called “chikhta”. The Knights are rearing horses, a reference to the dzhigit horsemen among the Cossacks. The Bishops represent Cossacks dressed with a closed burka, wearing a bashlyk and a papakha. The Pawns are sitting Cossacks.
Kislovodsk is a Russian city located in the Stavropol Krai. After the October Revolution, the mansions of the rich were nationalized and turned into sanatoriums. Many folk craftsmen who carved figurines from bones and horns were among those who came to the sanatoriums. In 1960s, the production of porcelain souvenirs began. From the beginning, the focus was on unique products of artistic value. After the collapse of the Soviet Union , the Kislovodsk Souvenir Factory was transformed into a limited liability company Kislovodskiy farfor – Feniks .