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From the book "Gzhel pottery", Aurora art publishers, Leningrad, 1987:
The Gzhel is the name of village some 60 kilometers from Moscow.
"Gzhel" sounds like the Russian verb zhech (the meaning is "to burn" or "to fire").
Gzhel owes its place in the history of Russian porcelain to Dmitry Vinogradov, who in the mid-eighteenth century, independently of potters in Western Europe and the East, discovered the secret of manufacturing porcelain, with white Gzhel clay as an main component . Incidentally, the quality of this clay was highly praised by the great Russian scientist Mikhail Lomonosov.
However, the formula of porcelain found its way to Gzhel only in the early nineteenth century. In the second half of the preceding century, attempts to create a porcelain-like paste had resulted in majolica.
The earliest porcelain production in Gzhel factories can be traced to the beginnin of the nineteenth century. According to legend, the first Gzhel potter to manufacture porcelain was Pavel Kulichkov, of the village of Volodino, who have worked at the Gardner factory (one of Russia`s largest porcelain-producing
establishments, set up at Verbilki in 1766), and later at the Otto factory, which opened in the vicinity of Moscow in 1799. Having familiarized himself with the methods of production and kiln construction employed at these establishments, Kulichkov returned to his native village and built its own kiln in 1802. The wares from his workshop found a market even in Moscow, were porcelain was still a rarity. Kulichkov`s neighbours attempted on numerous occasions to discover the formula of his porcelain ware - to no avail.
Eventually, however, someone managed to sneak into his workshop and shortly afterwards several workshops in the villages of Gzhel began turning out high-quality porcelain.