Go to banya after working hours
Unknown artist, 1932
Bid them wash their faces,
And keep their teeth clean.
William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Coriolanus
Russians always liked bathing in banyas, which is a traditional Russian steam bath. It is quite similar to Finnish sauna, but not as hot. Usually it has three rooms – a steam room, a washing room and a lounge. In the steam room people not only perspire heavily in hot temperature and high humidity, they also slap each other with tied branches of white birch, which massages the body, increases blood circulation and therefore is quite pleasing.
But banyas were not only about personal hygiene. The lounge place in banyas was usually a club, where men were chatting, drinking light beverages and resting - much like in the Roman Empire. In the Soviet times banyas remained but the quality of bathing services was significantly decreased – now they were mainly about washing oneself.
This poster is a social artwork, which popularizes personal hygiene among the workers. Many of them had arrived from the country and were not familiar with regular washing. Also, working in heavy industry was always a far more dirty occupation than farming.
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