Monday, December 12, 2011

From Russia With Love?

This post is NOT about the 1963 James Bond film which starred a young Sean Connery. Indeed, while this blogger has previously babbled about the 2012 Presidential Election, #Occupy Wall Street, the People's Republic of China and Facebook Privacy, until today, I've refrained from writing about the former Soviet Union.

That's why it's a bit curious that this completely irrelevant corner of the blogosphere has an active Russian readership.

...speaking of Russia...
Why do Russians hang rugs on the walls?

In my quest to find the answer, I discovered two outstanding web-sources, which married together, provided this blogger with the best possible answer.

According to the website English Russia, Russians started the custom of hanging rugs on the wall in the 1950s. Why? Evidently, the walls of Soviet-era apartment buildings were extremely thin. Hanging rugs on the wall had a real world, practical application. The custom itself helped mask private conversations from noisy neighbors as well providing some added interior insulation against the COLD Russian winters.

A first-person narrative written by an American living in Russia provided this blogger with another possible answer to the original question. Lindsay Kosarev's detailed observations about the country's society and culture are a must read for every American who plans on living and working in Russia:

"Russians love putting carpets on their walls. At first, I thought it was for extra insulation, but they put them on inside walls as well. No matter how stylish or traditional Russians believe this custom is, they always pick a rug that does not match the rest of the room. They either look like the furniture covers, which are brown and tan floral patterns or the rugs are red and black. There are other styles of rugs, but these are the most common and memorable."

Thus, based on these specific web-sources, this blogger reached a simple conclusion. What started off as a practical solution to address real world concerns (noisy neighbors and cold apartments), over the course of fifty-plus years, the custom itself simply became a part of the cultural fabric of Russian society.

Hanging rugs on the wall is just one more thing
which helps define Russia as Russian.

Lonely Planet ~ Russia [Paperback]