Thursday, September 6, 2007

What do you think of these my man?

Do you look after your breasts?
Unknown artist, 1930

This is a very famous poster, which shows the versatility of topics covered by the Soviet poster art.

It says: “Do you look after your breasts? Temper your breasts in cold water daily!” In the late twenties industrialization in heavy industry and collectivization in agriculture forced many peasants to migrate to cities and to become workers at factories and plants. Rural habits were useless in industry centers, so peasants had to adjust themselves to new customs.

Hygiene was one of the most acute problems in the cities with rapidly expanding population. Nicolay Semashko (1874-1949) was the first Narkom (minister) of Health Service (1918-1930), who defined the principles of water supply provision, disinfection, personal hygiene and other social services necessary for healthy development of the society. During his life time Semashko wrote more than 250 of works covering these topics, established a chair of hygiene in Moscow State University, organized a separate Hygiene university later, and did a great job of improving social and hygienic conditions in underdeveloped and traditional regions of Chuvashia, Bashkiria, Tataria, Dagestan and other North Caucasus areas. His invaluable input was one of the reasons, why in the thirties he was not repressed like many other officials, but was promoted to become a member of All-Russian Central Executive Committee, with his main assignment to organize orphanages and to make maternity care system.

This poster was a part of the maternity care campaign, which not only promoted personal hygiene, but was also aimed at tempering of female organisms before delivery. At that time it was believed that cold water strengthens mammaries and makes them ready for breast feeding. And today this vintage artwork looks nothing but amazing.

10 comments:

Dr. Michael A. Denner said...

great stuff. molodets. where are these images from? i've not seen ANY of these agitprop posters... and i've seen lots.

smart & insightful writing, too.

Samara said...

Chilling the breasts is also supposed to help maintain their firmness as the woman ages- funny that this is for "all woman parts"; my roommates in Peterburg insisted that my habit of sitting outside on the chilly concrete balcony of our dom would make me infertile.

Alexander Zakharov said...

Dr. Michael

Spasibo ;) Soviet posters are scattered all over the internet, actually. Check http://www.plakaty.ru/ for instance. Or there is a massive fotoset on flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/bpx/sets/72057594117941491/
Or check another russian site http://www.davno.ru/posters/

And good luck in studying Russian, udachi! ;)

Alexander Zakharov said...

Samara

Oh, i see. I've read an article on this topic. It said that this opinion is outdated, and the chilling doesn't do any good for mammaries. Well, there are as many opinions as there are doctors ;)
Anyway, in Russia there was always a winter-swimming tradition, and both women and men were diving in ice-holes at temperatures way below zero...

Konstantin said...

I gotta tell you, this one made me laugh. When I was a kid, back in Minsk, i had a soft-bound booklet that had caricatures and art like this. It was all about "the capitalist pigs", and the cold war, and the arms race. It is something i remember very vividly. I was trying to find that exact artwork, but cant seem to pinpoint it. web is limitless nowadays...

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