A samovar is kind of like one of those pump-dispensers at your local coffee shop. Instead of discharging milk or coffee, a samovar heats up water and dispenses it for tea. The metal urn has a spigot and an internal tube that's used for boiling water. Samovars are intrinsic to Russian culture, but you can also find them in other parts of the world, such as Iran and Turkey.
In Crime and Punishment, the central character Raskolnikov searches for his friend, Razumihin, at a party:
Half-way upstairs he could hear the noise and animated conversation of a big gathering of people. The door was wide open . . . . Raskolnikov stopped in the entry, where two of the landlady's servants were busy behind a screen with two samovars, bottles, plates and dishes of pie and savouries, brought up from the landlady's kitchen.