Icons and Eggs
The tradition of painting icons started in Russia following the conversion of Russia into Christianity in 988 AD. One of the teachings of the Russian Orthodox Church says that there is an intercession of saints. Every baptized Russian is given the name of the saint who according to the beliefs of the people follows this person during his whole life. Russian icons are typically paintings on wood, often small, though some of them hanging in churches and monasteries may be much larger. Some Russian icons were made of copper. Many religious homes in Russia have icons hanging on the wall in the krasny ugol, the "red" or "beautiful" corner. As a general rule, initially Russian icons strictly followed models and formulas hallowed by Byzantine Art, led from the capital in Constantinople.(Excerpt from Wikipedia's article about Russian Orthodox icons).
Icon painting is a very acclaimed mode of art in today's Russia. Many new churches and cathedrals have been built recently in many parts of Russia and other former republics of the Soviet Union. That required skilled artists to work on decorating interior walls, iconostasis (central part of the church) as well as multiple icons to hang on the walls of the religious buildings. As a result there is a deficit of icons. Many Russian experienced artsits from Kholui, Fedoskino and Palech who were earlier involved and specialized in painting lacquer boxes, nesting dolls, Zhostovo trays and even oil and acrylic paintings turn nowdays to making icons. Some of them, like artist Sergei Tukanov (Kholui), A. Denisov(Palech) went to Kazakstan on government's contract.