Zlatoust Arsenal and Russian Industrialization

Hello class! For my first blog post I will examine a photograph by Sergey Prokudin-Gorskii who traveled across the Soviet Union to document the Russian way of life through his photography. The photograph I have chosen to examine is from Prokudin-Gorskii’s visit to the town of Zlatoust in 1909. The photograph shows a collection of sabers and daggers assembled into a massive structure. This structure reminded me of the Iron Throne from HBO’s Game of Thrones. The town was known for the first cannons made of Russian steel.

“Weapons Cabinet in the Arsenal Museum of the Zlatoust Plant
Gorka iz oruzhʹi︠a︡ v Arsenalʹnom Muzei︠e︡ Zlatoustovskago zavoda

Before the late 19th Century, Russia realized it needed to industrialize in order to succeed. Zlatoust later became the center of finished metal production with a significant portion devoted to weaponry.

I wish I could learn how all of those sabers and daggers were collected. Were any of them used in the revolutions of the early 20th Century? What other weaponry can be found in that arsenal?

It was during this time that many agrarian revolutions were occurring. Four years before this picture was taken, the Russian Revolution of 1905 took place which emphasized the oppression the peasants felt during this shift towards industrialization. The state had tried to industrialize by raising taxes but that led to the famine of 1892. I wonder if the weapons produced in Zlatoust were used in the many revolutions of Prokudin-Gorskii’s time.

Zlatoust Today

Zlatoust is located in the present day Russian Federation.
Google Maps

Zlatoust was founded in 1754 and currently has a population of 166,885. The flying winged horse was the town’s favorite engraving in the sabers—the Pegasus soon became a symbol for the town.

This is the flag of Zlatoust. Notice the Pegasus which is the symbol of the town.

Zlatoust attractions include:

  • The bell tower with a chapel of St. John Chrysostom;
  • A ski resort located within the city limits with two ski slopes for beginners and a cafe;
  • Winged horse sculpture.



Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: A History. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.

6 Replies to “Zlatoust Arsenal and Russian Industrialization”

  1. I believe this picture is very important during this time period showing the revolution of industry seen in Russia at the time. This especially showed how militaristic Russia has become through the increase of weapons production. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Yes, the scale of the Russian industrialization is very evident in this picture. Russia has since maintained a strong position in military affairs.

  2. It is interesting that a country so focused on modernizing itself would still focus on making less than modern weapons. Do you know when modern militaries stopped producing swords for non-ceremonial reasons?

    1. I’m not sure when modern militaries stopped producing swords for non-ceremonial reasons but I do know these swords and daggers have a strong traditional element in Russian culture.

  3. That sword tower is indeed reminiscent of the Iron Throne! (And I for one, cannot wait until April for that last season….) . You’ve given us some good context for contemporary Zlatoust and its ongoing identification with arms manufacture. Check out some of the other posts by your classmates on this historical town and its role in Russia’ modernization program at the turn of the 20thc.

    1. Yes, I am also very excited for Game of Thrones to come back! I was surprised to see that this small town had so much significance in the late 19thc.

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