A samovar is traditionally a device used to heat water for tea, and the word can loosely be translated as "self boiler".
To boil the water inside a samovar, the pipe is filled with solid fuel such as pine cones, charcoals and wood chips which are set on fire. A small tea pot is used to brew a tea concentrate. The tea pot is often placed on top of a samovar to keep it heated with the passing hot air. The first Samovar ever was made by Lisitsyn brothers in Tula in 1778.
This museum has a wide variety of different samovars, and especially for foreigners interested in traditional Russian artefacts this is a great place to visit. If you are not much into these things, don't bother.
The local proverb is "don't bring a samovar to Tula"
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