Fur is an important part of Russian heritage and culture. Winters are harsh, with temperatures often sinking to below -50 degrees, fur garments have always been essential to keep warm in this climate.
The trade in fur has been an essential part of the Russian economy for thousands of years. In ancient times, pelts were levied as duties, fines and even used as a currency before becoming a valuable export. The search for fine furs was behind the Russian push eastwards into the Urals, Siberia and towards the Pacific. Up until the 19th Century Russia was the world’s largest exporter of furs. The famous Russian sable – for centuries regarded as the world’s most exclusive fur was only worn legally by the Tsar and the Royal Family. The trade in fur remains a vital part of the lifestyle of the indigenous peoples of Siberia, the North and Russian Far East.
Uzbekistan, Turkemenistan and Afghanistan became important suppliers of Persian lambskins and Russian and Armenian merchants would collect the skins and sell them in London, Leipzig and in Nishni Novgorod.