Russian photographer Ivan Hafizov is on a mission of historic preservation. For many centuries, Russia has prided itself on its intricate woodworking called nalichniki. The craft was used particularly to decorate window casings—the trim molding that originates at the windowsill and wraps up and around the glass—creating a dainty border. Although the exact reason for this tradition isn’t clear, window decorating may have started in pagan times and were designed to protect a home’s inhabitants from evil spirits. Due to wars, house abandonment or damage, and fragility of wood, these beautifully ornate designs are becoming quickly endangered. That’s why Hafizov aims to salvage the memory of these beautifully designed works of architectural art with his camera.
For the past few years, Hafizov has traveled around his country, snapping thousands of photographs to create “a virtual museum of decorated windows.” His hope is to renew interest in these historical relics that are disappearing as Russian towns rebuild in “Euro-fashion.” He logs his photographic treasures on Instagram, but more famously categorizes the unique styles of each town in collages. In this Russia Beyond the Headlines article, you can view Hafizov’s collages and read how each Russian town demonstrates its own color palette and aesthetic.
For a virtual tour of individual Russian houses with elaborate nalichniki, scroll down and enjoy!
All images via Ivan Hafizov.