There is nothing so coquettish and elegant as the Russian Isbah, which will give the visitors to the Exhibition an idea of the architecture and construction employed by the peasant for his house.
It is made entirely of wood; the walls are formed of beams superimposed and set at their ends one on top of the other. Strips of felt, squeezed between the beams, form an impermeable barrier against the cold. Inside, these beams are covered with planks fixed horizontally; the ceiling itself is made of planks, which gives the interior of a room the appearance of a packing box.
The pediments of the entrance and the roof are cut wood, of a rather elegant physiognomy.
A terrace, wide enough, to which one climbs by a few steps, allows the farmer to rest, in the evening, while contemplating the meadows and the wheat fields which surround him.
But the interior is far from matching the exterior. It is usually a large room with an oven, which is used for baking black bread and food, and also as a bedroom. The muzhik is not difficult. Wrapped in his choya, a sheepskin coat, he sleeps very well, lying on a long wooden chest which serves as a wardrobe and bed.
In a corner, a small lamp burns, hanging in front of a religious image, whose smoky black tones highlight the golden background in which it is set.
A strong, solid table and a few wooden stools make up the furniture of the isbah.
The bed is an almost universally unknown piece of furniture. Rich merchants and nobles alone can afford this luxury.
But the muzhik sleeps so well on his trunk, with the often asphyxiating heat provided by the oven, and so pleasantly warm when, all around the isbah, a carpet of snow hardened by a cold of 15 to 20 degrees spreads out!
©L’Exposition Universelle de Vienne 1873