Folk Object – Russia

“It’s a silver ring. Through the generations, one male in the family is given the silver ring, and they are supposed to make a new design for it. It will be melted down and made into the new design.”

Phillip said that the ring has been passed down for many generations, and the tradition started in some village in Russia. It doesn’t matter if it’s the oldest son or the youngest son; one of them will get it and will pass it down. The tradition is from his father’s side of the family, since his mother is Korean. The ring Phillip made is a spin ring, with a maze design on it, it has no exit. The ring is passed down when the boy is 18 years old, sometime when they are 18, it doesn’t have to be their birthday. Phillip thinks that the way the tradition of melting the ring down and making a new design started was that a relative just messed up the ring and couldn’t remember how to make it again. But, now the tradition is supposed to symbolize the person (who is given the ring) forging his own path. This has been going on for a few hundred years, with pretty much the same piece of silver. They have had to add more silver every so often, because some metal gets lost in the process of melting and creating a new ring. Usually there have been Jewish symbols on the rings, like a Star of David since Phillip’s father’s side of the family is Jewish. Phillip put a Greek maze, a labyrinth; because he want to show how complex he is and doesn’t really feel that it was important for him to put a Jewish symbol on the ring side. He doesn’t really know if he will continue the tradition since it’s not that important to him.

From what Phillip has told me, I agree with his interpretation of the tradition of handing down the silver ring in his family. It probably did just start out as a ring that displayed a Jewish symbol, since his ancestry is Jewish on that side of his family, that was being passed down through the generations. And, from my point of view there is a high possibility that someone who received the ring did just mess it up and wasn’t able to remember what the design was, causing them to remold the ring with a new design, starting the tradition of handing down the ring and remolding it every time it was given to the next generation. The supposed meaning of the new owner of the ring forging his own path through remolding the ring was probably adopted somewhere down the line when it had already started to be remolded every time it was passed down.