Gzhel, Moscow Oblast

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Gzhel (Russian: Гжель; IPA: [ɡʐelʲ]) is the name of two rural localities in Ramensky District, Moscow Oblast, Russia, 52 kilometers (32 mi) southeast from the center of Moscow. It gave its name to Gzhel ceramics as well as the Gzhelian age and stage in the ICS geologic timescale. In a broader sense, the name also refers to a cluster of villages and settlements in the vicinity of Gzhel and Rechitsy. An eponymous railway station on the Moscow–Kazan railroad has been operating since 1912.

Gzhel stands on the banks of the Gzhelka River, known from the 1451 charter of Sophia of Lithuania, mother of Vasily II of Moscow, as Kzhelya. The year the village of Gzhel was established remains unknown; it was first reliably documented in the 1784 census. The village prospered in the end of 19th century; the 1871 census recorded 11 retail shops, 15 pubs, 5 inns, and 88 manufacturing shops. Farmland was scarce; most of the population made a living in ceramic trade or worked in Moscow. According to 1878 records, 952 local men and 177 women worked outside of Gzhel, yet the village provided employment to more than 1,200 workers from other places, evenly balancing the equation. Unhealthy work environments promoted mass tuberculosis among locals and guest workers; in 1909, the village built a privately funded free sanatorium for TB patients.