The idea of the “Bishbalta’s Skilled Masters” sculpture was initiated during celebration of 300-year anniversary of Kazan Admiral Shipyards. The Admiralty district (Admiralteyskaya sloboda in Russian, Admiral bistese in Tatar) was developed near Bishbalta Tatar village founded where Kazanka river merges to Volga back in IX-X centuries. In Tatar language, Bishbalta means “five axes”. According to the legend the village was founded by five men – the skilled masters of wood constructing who, as the legend says, had built a house at this picturesque woody place to a beautiful girl Icelu (who were hiding from an undesired rich admirer) and her humble fiancé Shunkar. Bishbalta became famous with its carpenter, lumberjacks, joiners, shipbuilders.
Bishbalta residents actively participated in establishment of Kazan Khanate; they erected wooden walls and interior buildings of Kazan Kremlin; in 1552 they were among the firsts to clash with the Ivan the Terrible’s army. In 1718 Peter I declared the establishment of Admiral Shipyard, providing warships for Russo-Persian War. During Kazan Admiralty existence over 400 ships were manufactured. Many ancillary manufactories were founded along the way, including gunpowder production, linen manufactory, leather artels, blacksmith, mechanical shops, etc. In 1829 Admiralty was moved to the port Astrachan.
After civil war of 1917, the working class and proletariat of Admiralteiskaya Sloboda played an essential role in establishment of Soviet government in Kazan as well as in freeing Kazan from “white Czechs” and “white guards” (Kolchak army) in 1918. During Soviet Union, Admiralty district was the heart of industrial manufacturing: large plants included Lenin NGO (gunpower plant), helicopter plant, linen factory, leather and haberdashery manufactory, “Zavod Serp i Molot” (small machinery and technical equipment production), construction company #5, “Zavod Medapparatury” (medical equipment), vinegar producing plant, ball-bearing factory successfully functioned here. Ultimately, all plants seized their existence after collapse of Soviet Union. Nowadays, Bishbalta is mostly residential area with beautiful vistas of Volga river and Kazan Kremlin.
Find more information about Kazan Admiralty Shipyards in English on Tatflot website.
If you become interested in learning about another unique decorative folk art of Volga Tatars – leather mosaic – that proves once again the patient, diligent and resilient nature of the Tatars, consider reading the page on this website about of technique the leather crafts are created.