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Typical Russian oven in a peasant izba. Oven's tools in the right side. Photo from Belarusian State Museum of Folk Architecture and Everyday Life.

A Russian oven or Russian stove (Russian: Русская печь) is a unique type of masonry stove that first appeared in the 15th century.[1] It is used both for cooking and domestic heating in traditional Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian households.[2] The Russian oven burns firewood or wood manufacturing waste.[2][3]


A Russian oven is designed to retain heat for long periods of time. This is achieved by channeling the smoke and hot air produced by combustion through a complex labyrinth of passages, warming the bricks from which the oven is constructed.[2][3]

A brick flue (Russian: борова) in the attic, sometimes with a chamber for smoking food, is required to slow down the cooling of the oven.[2]


The Russian oven is usually in the centre of the log hut (izbà). The builders of Russian ovens are referred to as "stovemakers" (pechniki). Good stovemakers always had a high status among the population. A badly built Russian oven may be very difficult to repair, bake unevenly, smoke, or retain heat poorly.[2][4][5]

There are many designs for the Russian oven. For example there is a variant with two hearths (one of the hearths is used mainly for fast cooking, the other mainly for heating in winter).[2][4]


Various types of firewood can be used, for example birch or pine. Aspen is the least efficient for heating a Russian oven because the amount needed is twice that of other woods.[2]


Usage of the Russian oven etched by John Augustus Atkinson (1803)

Besides its use for domestic heating, in winter people may sleep on top of the oven to keep warm.[2] The oven is also used for cooking, for example, to bake pancakes or pies. The porridge or the pancakes prepared in such an oven may differ in taste from the same meal prepared on a modern stove or range. The process of cooking in the Russian oven can be called "languor" — holding dishes for a long period of time at a steady temperature. Foods that are believed to acquire a distinctive character from being prepared in a Russian oven include baked milk, pastila candies, mushrooms cooked in sour cream, or even a simple potato.[2] Bread is put in and taken out from the oven using a special wooden paddle on a long shank. Cast iron pots with soup or milk are taken out with a two-pronged metal stick.[2][6]

As well as warming and cooking, the Russian oven can be used for washing. A grown man can easily fit inside, and during World War II some people escaped the Nazis by hiding in ovens.[2][3][6][7] In former times the oven was used to treat winter diseases by warming the sick person's body inside it.[2][3][6][7]

In Russian culture[edit]

The Russian oven was a major element of Russian life and consequently it often appears in folklore, in particular in Russian fairy tales. The legendary hero Ilya Muromets was able to walk after 33 years of incapacity after being laid on a Russian oven. Emelya, according to the legend, was so reluctant to leave it that he simply flew and rode on it.[8][9] Baba Yaga according to the legend baked lost children in her oven. Often in those fairy tales the oven received human characteristics. For example in "The Magic Swan Geese" a girl meets a Russian oven, and asks it for directions. The oven offers the girl rye buns, and subsequently, on the girl's return, hides her from the swan geese.[10][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ А. Е. Школьник (1988-01-07), Русская печь XX века, Наука и техника .
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Федотов, ГЯ (2007), Русская печь — Эксмо (in Russian), ISBN 978-5-699-23171-3 
  3. ^ a b c d "Русская печь" (in Russian). pechka.su. 
  4. ^ a b http://www.mukhin.ru/stroysovet/stove&heaters/5_5.html
  5. ^ http://bibliotekar.ru/spravochnik-6/79.htm
  6. ^ a b c "Этнодвор «Музей Русской Печи»". Этномир. 
  7. ^ a b "Glenrich". RU. .
  8. ^ https://archive.org/stream/folklorelegends07cjttiala/folklorelegends07cjttiala_djvu.txt
  9. ^ http://cqham.qrz.ru/skazka/skaz028.shtml
  10. ^ Г. Н. Губанова. Золотая книга сказок. Тула: «Родничок», 2001, с. 241. ISBN 5-89624-013-9
  11. ^ Гуси-лебеди. Донецк: Проф-пресс, 1999.

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_oven — Please support Wikipedia.
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42 news items

Russia Beyond the Headlines
Thu, 11 Feb 2016 06:48:45 -0800

Russian Oven: Pavlova cake, an ideal Valentine's Day surprise. The origin of Pavlova cake is still disputed by Australia and New Zealand. One thing is for sure: it was inspired by the beauty of legendary Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. By Alexey ...
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Russia Beyond the Headlines
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 07:19:00 -0800

Russian Oven: Christmas ginger sour cream cookies. Looking for a stylish and sweet addition for your Christmas feast? Try Russian-style sour cream ginger cookies, a traditional pastry for a heartwarming family celebration. By Alexey Mosko, Evgenia ...
Russia Beyond the Headlines
Mon, 28 Dec 2015 07:00:24 -0800

Enjoy! Russian oven is a new video series devoted to Russian pastries, featuring traditional age-old pies and cakes, inventive cookies and tarts of recent years, plus Soviet classics and much more. Stay tuned! Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. Pinterest ...
Russia Beyond the Headlines
Thu, 07 Jan 2016 01:56:15 -0800

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Russia Beyond the Headlines
Sat, 26 Dec 2015 03:11:28 -0800

From December 18 to 17 January Moscow hosts the first "Christmas lights" international festival. Teams from Russia, Italy, France and Canada decorated the streets and squares. There are lots of magnificent light objects in Moscow's city center now.
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Ded Moroz (or Father Frost, the Russian equivalent of Santa Claus) is the main fairy-tale character during the New Year holiday season in Russia. No one could imagine the celebration without Ded Moroz and his granddaughter Snegurochka (Snow Maiden).
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Fri, 06 Nov 2015 06:15:00 -0800

Whenever my brother or I were unwell as kids, Granny would always appear with an arsenal of homemade remedies. Among them was always a jar with cut up slices of lemon with honey. It was always our favorite part of being sick – apart from missing school ...

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