Equipages built by the masters of Russia and Europe in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries were not only an exclusive form of transport. For the most part they were also works of art, which combined originally wood-carving, painting, metal casting, leather-working, jewellery-making and even architecture.  Fine equipages expressed the qualitatively special status of its owner as a living symbol and important supporter of the social system. This applies first and foremost to the equipages which served the tsarist court.  

In the life of tsar’s court and diplomatic etiquette, an important place was allotted to the ceremonial processions, which were strictly worked out and documented. Drawn up in the 16th century, they grew steadily more elaborate in the following one, as can be seen from the material in the Armoury archive. Accounts by foreigners have survived, which contain detailed descriptions of royal processions during this period, enabling us to see them as a kind of theatrical spectacle. Several thousand horsemen and dozens of gilded and brightly painted equipages usually took part in these processions. The tsarina’s processions were equally sumptuous.

It is worth noting that according to a special riding rules decree of the late 17th century, only royal family members, boyars and the clergy were allowed driving in carriages and two-wheeled carts, which underlined a particular status of these types of transport.

Meetings of ambassadors were accompanied by similar opulence. In Moscow, foreign embassies were given the use of fine thoroughbred horses, rich sets of horse harness and fashionable, elegantly-decorated carriages from the royal Stables Treasury. The seeing off of Russian ambassadors was no less festive. Numerous horsemen, fine and beautifully adorned horses and equipages partook in the ceremony. The organization of meetings and departures was a matter of extreme importance, because these ceremonies were connected with the state’s ideology and position in the system of international relations of that particular age.

Organization of tsar’s departures, as well as the Russian and foreign embassies, was one of the function of the Stables Prikaz. It had charge of herds of horses, the tsar’s stables, the carriage yard and workshops which made harness and equipages, and the rich stables’ treasury. The main sources of acquiring and supplementing the items by the Kremlin Carriage Yard were the works of Russian masters and gifts brought from abroad by embassies and foreign traders. To a lesser extent, purchases in other countries.

Equipages which came to the Kremlin Carriage Yard in Moscow were entered in special ‘incoming ledgers’ so that the information about them was kept ‘for future centuries…’a number of these ledgers and lists of ambassadorial gifts for the 15th – 17th cc have survived in the Moscow archives. The material in them is of great importance today both for a study of questions relating to Russian and West European carriage-building and to throw light on aspects of Russia’s diplomatic relations with various powers in the 16th and 17th cc, the main countries being Poland, Germany, England, Holland and Denmark.

Closer to the middle of the 17th с, the workshops of the Stables Prikaz reveal a direct connection with other art workshops of the Kremlin.   Starting from this time, the construction of equipages in the country became an independent kind of creative work – the art of carriage-building. The art history still remembers the names of the artists who participated in the creation of five carriages of the Armoury Chamber: architect Nicolas Pineau, equipage master and carver A. Drilerosse, J.M. Breteuil, painter Raphael Mengs,  François Boucher, S. Butler, sculpturer and bronze master Jean-Jacques Caffieri and Ivan Bezmin. Many of the mentioned artists contributed to the development of European carriage-building.