Russian Bath

The history of Russian bath originates in old times.

From descriptions of Greece Herodotus, it is possible to find out that the Scythians that lived in Ukraine in ancient times used bath. They established three poles inclined by the top ends to each other, and covered them with felt. Then threw into the tub put in the middle of this hut the red-hot stones. They brought hempen seeds into this felt bath and threw them on the heated stones. Strong heat rose so, by words of Herodotus, "no one Hellenic bath could be compared to it, Scythians enjoying it yelled from pleasure. Scythian women pounded on a rough stone, adding waters, pieces of cypress, cedar and incense. They covered all body with this liquid paste with a pleasant smell and when washed it off and became clean and shone".

German scientist Adam Oleary in XVII century wrote, "in Russia therewere no city, no village in which there would be no steam baths.Russian may bear extreme heat. Lying on shelves of the bath, orderto beat and rub their body with hot birch besoms that I could notbear in any way. After such heat Russians became red and are poured by cold water. In the winter, having jumped out of the bath, roll in snow, tinder their body as if soap, and then again enter into the hot bath. Such change of opposite actions favours to their health ". Probably from this description Russian saying came: "What is good for Russians to the Germans is death! ".

Peter the Great was an active admirer of Russian bath. When in 1703 St. Petersburg was based, he allowed for all interested persons to build baths and constructions were not undertaken any duties.

As a rule Russian bath is build of logs stacked against each other, gaps between which were calked with moss. Initially baths were heated "in a black way", that is an oven was established directly in a steam room and the smoke left directly into the room.
Therefore walls in such bath were smoked. This way of heating was called "in black way".

Construction of a Russian bath differed much from a Roman term. First of all Russian bath was always made of wood and has no possible luxury and excesses. All was subordinated only to one thing - to bring into a healthy state. Second, the bath had only two rooms - a waiting room in which people undressed and had a rest in breaks between calls in a steam room, and a steam room. Such baths were built without drawings - all was held in a head and art of construction of bath was handed down. The choice of the place for the bath was important for construction. Choice of the place appropriate for a bath was made with the same scrupulousness as a choice of th place for a church.

In opposite to Roman terms where there were rooms with various temperatures, in Russian bath gradualness of warming up was reached by making some shelves at different height. The higher shelf was in zone with the hotter temperature.

The steam room was heated up by means of an oven in which stones were stacked; from this fact the oven got name "Kamenka". Various ways of heating of water were used. In olden time people just threw the heated stones into the barrels with water. Later pig-iron boilers were fixed into ovens and were used for heating of water. Water was heated up during all time while heating of the oven and the clouds of steam rising from boiling water shrouded all steam room.

A besom always was as the basic attribute of Russian bath. Bath never was held without it. There are a great variety of besoms: birch, oak and still it is a lot of others. Besom used in Russian bath is made of twigs with leaves and dried under special conditions when leaves stay green and do not peel off. Such besoms are prepared in summer time and are kept specially for bath. Just before using of a besom it is wetted in hot water and then is used for hitting of body. It improves circulation of blood and acts like massage.