The oldest and the most wide-spread Russian conveyances were sledges. Up to the end of the 17th century, it was common to use sleighs in towns even in summer. In those days Russians regarded travelling in a sledge as more prestigious than on wheels. The use of sledges in summer was the privilege of members of the royal family, the highest church dignitaries, and the nobles in their immediate entourage.

Stables Prikaz documents note the great variety of sledges of Russian and foreign make in the Kremlin Carriage Yard during the 16th and 17th centuries. There were special sledges for processions, resting, military campaigns, amusements and funerals. In their form sledges were reminiscent of medieval Russian boats with curved edges at the front and back.

The sledge-coach was used in winter to cover long distances. It was like a small room with tiny windows and rather wide doors. Its prototype was a covered vehicle (povozka) of the early Middle Ages. The tsar and his family travelled in a ‘warm’ povozka upholstered inside with sable. The procession consisted of a long train. The ‘cross’ povozka contained icons; the ‘bedding’ povozka trunks with the tsar’s bed linen, and the ‘reserve’ povozka contained the tsar’s clothes and underwear. ‘Amusement’ sledge-coaches were used for games and for conveying the tsar’s and boyar’s young children.

The winter ‘amusement’ sledge was executed by craftsmen of the Moscow Kremlin Stables Workshops in 1689-1692. There is no other museum in the world having carriages like this one in its collection. The sledge was called ‘amusement’ because it was used for games and amusements of Tsarina Ekaterina, a young daughter of Tsar Ivan Alexeyevich, brother and co-ruler of Tsar Peter I. The closed two-seater body of the carriage is placed on sleigh runners painted red. The body still retains its traditional medieval form. It has a strict, precise silhouette and rectangular outlines, but there are also Baroque features in the décor.

Despite the entertaining function and small size of the carriage, it gives an idea of how ceremonial winter equipages of the 17th century looked like. Its side and front walls of the closed body have mica windows with thin tin strips and plated gilded copper starlets and two-headed eagles; the upholstery inside the sleigh is made of Eastern scarlet taffeta of the 17th century, and the sides of the body are upholstered in embossed red leather with copper relief-head nails. An embossed relief pattern of foliate motifs, images of graceful putti, exotic animals and birds stand out well against the red background. The roof of the coach is upholstered in black leather.

Until recently it was thought that the leather used on the sledge-coach had come from Spain of the 17th century. However, later research showed that the leather in the upholstery was made by Moscow Kremlin masters.