Podstakannik is a Russian tea glass holder. This cylindrical holder which comes attached with a handle is most commonly found in the metal make. The prime purpose of these glass holders is to hold a glass of freshly prepared, steaming hot tea. This equipment forms an integral part of the tea drinking culture in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and some post-Soviet states. The podstakannik has been the traditional utensil for serving and drinking tea in these regions since years.
The main task of this utensil is to keep the fingers of the tea drinker protected from the hot surface of the tea glass. The handle on it allows the drinker to pick it up with ease.
History of Russian Podstakannik
Podstakanniks made an entry in the tea community of Russia sometime towards the end of the 18th century, when the ritual of tea drinking was at its peak in the region. But soon, these utensils also began to be appreciated for their work of art and gradually, they became collectors’ items too. For the elite classes, there were expensive Podstakanniks created out of silver. However, since silver has a high thermal conductivity, it could not serve the practical purpose of a hot glass holder and thus, it merely remained a collector’s item.
Modern Day Russian Podstakanniks
The 20th century witnessed widespread use of these tea glass holders. The markets in the Soviet Union were flooded with Podstakanniks made of cupronickel, nickel, silver and alloys of nickel and silver. Many of these would also be gold plated. In the modern times, these glass holders can be sighted with depictions of famous historical dates, people, USSR cities and the likes, on them. Often, these glasses also depict the beautiful architecture of the place. The handmade copper made filigree tea glass holders are also quite in use and are reminiscent of the “bobbin lace” lacework. The filigree Podstakanniks commonly depict the emblematic Soviet era revolutionary symbols like rockets, images of heroes, sickle and hammer. Such filigree glass holders are generally made in the Mstera artisan village.