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Lubok

LUBOK

Broadsides or broadsheet prints (pl. lubki ).

Broadsides first appeared in Russia in the seventeenth century, probably inspired by German woodcuts. Subjects were depicted in a native style. Captions complemented the printed images. The earliest lubki represented saints and other religious figures, but humorous illustrations also circulated that captured the parody spirit of skomorok (minstrel) performances of the eraespecially the wacky wordplay of the theatrical entr'actes.

In the 1760s prints began to be made from metal plates, facilitating production of longer texts. Lithographic stone supplanted copper plates, but in turn gave way to cheaper and lighter zinc plates in the second half of the nineteenth century. Pedlars bought the pictures in bulk at fairs or in Moscow and sold them in the countryside. Originally acquired by nobles, the images were taken up by the merchantry, officials, and tradesmen before becoming the province of the peasantry in the nineteenth century, at which point lubok, in its adjectival form, came to mean "shoddy." It was also in the nineteenth century that the term came to refer to cheap printed booklets aimed at popular audiences.

Lubki depicted historical figures, characters from folklore, contemporary members of the ruling family, festival pastimes, battle scenes, judicial punishments, and hunting and other aspects of everyday life, along with religious subjects. The prints decorated peasant huts, taverns, and the insides of lids of trunks used by peasants when they moved to cities or factories to work. The native style of the prints was adapted by Old Believers in the nineteenth century in their manuscript printing. Avant-garde artists in the early twentieth century drew inspiration from the style in their neo-primitivist phase. An "Exhibition of Icons and Lubki" was held in Moscow in 1913.

See also: chapbook literature; old believers

bibliography

Bowlt, John E. (1998). "Art." In The Cambridge Companion to Modern Russian Literature, ed. Nicholas Rzhevsky. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Brooks, Jeffrey. (1985). When Russia Learned to Read: Literacy and Popular Literature, 18611917. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Farrell, Dianne E. (1991). "Medieval Popular Humor in Russian Eighteenth Century Lubki. " Slavic Review 50:551565.

Gary Thurston

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