Whoever tells a story of Kolivan stones also tells a story of their discovery, extraction and processing. Stone tells a story of serfdom, entrepreneurship, revolution and socialist planned economy, of ruin, renewal and future. The project is therefore concerned with the transformation of landscape by people, the explorers and new settlers, the miners and farmers in the vicinity of the factories. But the Kolivan stones also bear witness to international networks between Freiberg in Saxony, St. Petersburg and the Altai.
The first Russian-speaking settlers in the Altai were groups of Cossacks, fur trappers and robbers specialising in ancient burial mounds. The Cossacks could organise armed groups of up to 200 people. From them, information about the wealth of precious stones, precious ores and precious metals reached the Russian mining industrialists in the Urals. In 1726, the engineers of the mining magnate Akinfii Demidov carried out an experimental smelting of copper ores in the Altai.
In 1727-1744 iron smelting works were established in Kolyvan, in Barnaul, in addition to the opening of many mines and mines in Snake Mountain and elsewhere. Demidov transferred his serfs to the Kolyvan plant. The state allowed Demidov to settle newcomers and refugees for his works in the Altai and turned a blind eye to queries about their origins, previous employment, etc. In 1745, Akinfii Demidov died.
In 1745 Demidov’s mines were sealed, and in 1747 the management of his two works was transferred by order of the Empress to the Imperial Cabinet and thus to the Treasury of Saint Petersburg. The mining and smelting operations of the Altai were henceforth under the Imperial Cabinet, a department that managed the revenues and expenditures of the Russian tsars. From 1747, the peasants were assigned to the factories. They did not pay a poll tax to the state, but worked off the amount by doing small jobs, such as hauling ore, burning and transporting charcoal, and so on.
Kolyvan is known not only for its ironworks, but its stonemasonry business, and especially for its many gemstone deposits. Since 1802 the factory produced decorative products for palaces (vases, fireplaces, floor lamps, columns) from local coloured stones (jasper, agate, porphyry, marble, granite, breccia, etc.). Since the middle of the 20th century, the processing of jasper, porphyry, quartzite, marble for technical and artistic products developed.
The use of machines accelerated stone processing many times over compared to the factories in Peterhof and Ekaterinburg and allowed Kolyvan craftsmen to shape large objects from monolithic semi-precious stones from nearby deposits.
This is still the case today. But the local population also uses these stones to create and sell folk art. The stones, the quarries change the landscape and the people.