The Birch Tree takes away pain and gives strength. Touching the tree helps to restore the emotions, while wearing jewelry made from the bark helps to reduce stress and relieve headaches. Russian folk wisdom As long as two thousand years ago, the wood and bark of the Birch Tree were popular in Russia for making utensils, footwear (known as bast shoes or lapti), and jewelry. Because of its central place in the Russian forests, birch was revered as a sacred tree. The natives particularly valued the bark since, being a strong and pliable material akin to leather, it not only insulated heat but also seemed to radiate warmth. On winter expeditions in the taiga, the hunter trusted his hand would not go numb if the handle of his weapon was wrapped with birch bark. Parents carved personal bark toys for their children, called igrushki-oberegi (guardian toys), to protect them against the evil eye. The bark was also used, like papyrus was by the Egyptians, for symbolic inscribing and ritual drawing. The bark is harvested from the trees in Spring and Autumn. There are only two days in Spring, and three days in Autumn during which the bark can be harvested. Nowadays the bark is only taken from the trees that will be felled for timber. The color of the bark varies from chocolate brown to creamy white, depending on the season and where the trees grow. In Spring, the bark of young birches can be deep red on the inside. There are two tribes of the North, Hanti and Mansi, who practice their traditional art of carving on this red bark of the Spring harvest. Siberian craftsmen call birch bark the eighth wonder of the world. It has a smooth silky surface very pleasant to the touch, nature's satin indeed. With handling, bark pieces acquire the polished patina of antiques. Each piece is unique and produced by hand with the more elaborate ones taking a master craftsman many hours to create. Thus, bark articles can only increase in value.