Valenki are special Russian winter boots made of felt. Your feet in valenki always stay warm and don’t sweat – it’s very comfortable!
First shoes of wool were made in Central Asia. During the invasion of the Golden Horde, Russian craftsmen took a notice of Mongols’ felt shoes – pimy. So, practical Russian people invented their own technology of felting fleece.
Valenki – Shoes?
First valenki didn’t have bootlegs and looked more like warm slippers. But in the early 18th century valenki already had bootlegs. “Volnushechki”, “chesanki” and “katnki”, “valentsi”, “pimy” – all these are different names of valenki in different parts of Russia.
In the olden days felt footwear was a sign of wealth of a household. Often one pair of valenki was worn by all members of the family in turns. A family that had a few pairs of valenki was considered wealthy.
In the middle of the 18th century in the town of Myshkin a mass production of felt boots began, and its cost was significantly decreased. Such workshops quickly spread out throughout Russia.
Therapeutic Properties of Valenki
Unique shoes with no seams became appreciated by people of all ranks and social classes. Felt is breathable, perfectly absorbs and evaporates moisture, and keeps your feet warm.
Experience proves that felt shoes can cure colds, rheumatism and other diseases of the joints and muscles.
Royal personages didn’t mind therapeutic shoes either. Peter I loved valenki. For Catherine II and Anna Ioanovna special valenki were made that could be worn even with ball gowns.
One after another museums of valenki craft opened in Myshkino in 2000 and in Moscow in 2001.
In the town of Kineshma masters Sokolovs made the world’s largest valenki boot 168 cm high and 110 cm long.
Valenki with 0.9mm thin foot is the result of competition between two craftsmen: Anatoly Konenko and Valeriy Sokolov.
Vyacheslav Zaitsev and Elena Moskalenko developed a well-known collection of winter felt boots that still reflected Russian unique style.
Eco-friendly, therapeutic valenki boots are becoming popular worldwide.
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