This picture interested me because of the juxtaposition of the church and the factory next to it. To me, it symbolized the move from a non-secular state to a more secular state. As George Freeze mentioned, the late 1800’s was also a time of turmoil for Russia as they considered moving away from serfdom and also as the industrial revolution began.
This particular picture was taken in 1910, by Prokudin-Gorskii, in the Ural Mountains, specifically, the town of Zlatoust. The church in the picture was built in the 1830’s and it was demolished in 1933. The town of Zlatoust was founded in 1754 and has since become one of the most prominent metal finishing factories. The most notorious story surrounding the factories at Zlatoust, was the workers involvment in the 1773-74 “Pugachev’s Rebellion“. Due to harsh working conditions, the workers took part in the rebellion.
Upon further research of the history of Zlatoust, I came to find that it was not only a prominent metal finishing center, but the Zlatoust factory actually armed the entire Russian army after 1850 with their steel wares. This factory would become even more important when the Universal Military Training Act of 1874 (Freeze 211). This act required all-class conscription which would mean the need for steel weapons would increase. It played a role in both WWI and II when the factory produced many of the swords and combat knives used by the soldiers.
Another interesting fact I found from my research was the creation of Obukhov steel. Pavel Avos and Pavel Obukhov were the enigneers behind the creation of Russian Damascus Steel. This type of steel became a higher quality steel than most foreign competitors and surpassed the English steel that was dominating the global market.
Zlatoust has become known for not only its armory, but also for the high quality blades they produced, almost all made individually by master-craftsmen. Today, the factory is still the largest producer of Russian knives and swords, however, they now focus on more ceremonial wares or producing collectibles of past productions.
Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: a history. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.