Stakan

It is a very widespread form of drinking glass in Russia and the former Soviet Union

A classic 14-facets Soviet table-glass, produced in the city of Gus-Khrustalny since 1943.
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Granyonyi stakan

Stakan (table-glass) is a type of drinkware made from especially hard and thick glass and having a faceted form. Granyonyi stakan has certain advantages over the other drinkware, since due to its form and hardness it is more difficult to break. It is arguably handier in usage on moving trains or rolling ships, where it is less prone to decline and fall, or slip from hands, and less likely to be broken when hitting the floor, compared to non-faceted types of drinking glasses.

Morning still life by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, 1918. Shows a 12-facets table-glass with tea.
pinterest button Morning still life by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, 1918. Shows a 12-facets table-glass with tea George Shuklin, CC BY-SA 3.0

Granyony stakan may be used to drink any type of beverage. It is often used in combination with tea glass-holder (podstakannik).

Classical form

The classical form of Russian and Soviet granyonyi stakan is that with 14 facets. Such glasses have been produced since 1943 at a factory in the city of Gus-Khrustalny, the famous center of Russian glass-making. According to one theory, this version of drinking glass became a preferred one and was massively produced in the Soviet Union because it was more fit to be washed using dish washing machines.

A legend tells that the 14-facets form was designed by a famous Soviet sculptor Vera Mukhina.

A classic 14-facets Soviet table-glass, produced in the city of Gus-Khrustalny since 1943.
pinterest button A classic 14-facets Soviet table-glass, produced in the city of Gus-Khrustalny since 1943

Faceted drinking glasses, however, have been known in Russia from much older time. Their depictions are often found on the pictures from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when they became widespread.

Tsar Peter legend

A legend says that the first known faceted glass was given as a present to Tsar Peter the Great from a glass-maker called Yefim Smolin, living in Vladimir Oblast. He boasted to Tsar that his glass couldn’t be broken. Tsar Peter liked the present, however, after drinking some alcoholic beverage from it, he said loudly Let the glass be! (Russian: Стакану быть!), threw the glass on the ground and managed to break it. But Peter didn’t punish the glass-maker, and the production of such glasses continued. According to the legend, people present during this episode misinterpreted the Tsar’s words and thought that Peter called to break the glasses (Russian: Стаканы бить! — literally beat glasses or break glasses), that’s how a tradition of breaking drinkware on certain occasions appeared in Russia. Glasses were broken after especially important toasts or just during the especially cheerful parties. Russian restaurants even held special price lists for breaking the glasses. Breaking of drinkware, or, in wider context, any tableware, is believed in Russia to bring luck and happiness.

Nowadays

The popularity of hard-to-break table-glasses diminished after 1970-s, when more thin-glass drinkware started to be produced using equipment brought from Hungary. Several factories in Russia a still produce granyonyi stakans, which became somewhat symbolic of the Soviet era and sometimes perceived as souvenirs.

An image of granyonyi stakan in popular culture is associated either with vodka and pickled cucumbers, or with tea and podstakannik.

Useful Information

Table-glass or granyonyi stakan Russian: гранёный стакан
Literally: faceted glass