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AT THE FOOT OF THE STONE BELT

Дата публикации: 30 сентября 2021
Автор(ы): Olga BAZANOVA
Публикатор: Научная библиотека Порталус
Рубрика: РАЗНОЕ
Источник: (c) Science in Russia, №2, 2012, C.82-88
Номер публикации: №1633009194


Olga BAZANOVA, (c)

by Olga BAZANOVA, journalist

 

An associate of Emperor Peter the Great, a talented mining engineer, the founder of the Russian historical science and economic geography, ethnographer, enlightener and state figure Vasily Tatishchev is known also as the founder of the city of Perm. In 1723, the construction of a copper-smelting plant was started in the Yegoshikha village situated at the foothills of the Urals on the bank of the majestic Kama river. It was one of the first major national metallurgical works, which laid the foundation of the city, today one of Russia's biggest.

 

Meanwhile, back in late 11th century, the armed bands from Veliky Novgorod used to lay under tribute and exchange products in a vast country known as Perm (or Perem, Permia), which was first mentioned in The Tale of Bygone Years (early 12th cent.), the earliest extant annalistic collections of documents. This extensive territory stretching from the White Sea to the Stone Belt (former name of the Ural Mountains) includes today the Nenets Autonomous Area, Republic of Komi, the Arkhangelsk Region and the Perm Territory.

 

The areas rich in fur and salt were inhabited mainly by the Finno-Ugric tribes. In the second half of the 14th century, they joined in Christendom, due to the efforts of Stefan Khrap of Perm who headed an eparchy established there in 1383, which extended its influence later to the whole upper Kama basin. Besides, the tireless enlightener worked out the Komi alphabet and translated several basic church texts into the language of that most numerous local people.

 

In 1333, the Novgorod authorities conceded a territory at the foot of the Stone Belt to the strengthening Moscow principality. The northern part of the present

 

Perm Territory was gradually settled by Russians, and in 1430 the Vologda industrialists Kalinnikovs started salt production on the local rivers; besides in the middle of the same century the construction of Orthodox churches and monasteries began there too.

 

In 1471, "the collector of Russian lands" Moscow Grand Prince Ivan III received an Assignment Writ from Veliky Novgorod for all eastern volosts belonged to the latter including the Kama area, and, in order to strengthen his power in the new lands, he sent there troops headed by prince Fyodor Pyostry Starodubsky a year later. According to the North Russian Annals of 1472, "the military commander... conquered the Perm land, captured all those who did harm to the grand prince and sent them to the grand prince, and the whole land swore to him."

 

The soft* and white "gold" was valued in the Middle Ages not less than the "metal of gods" itself. Therefore, after the Khanate of Kazan, the main obstacle on the direct route from Moscow to Perm, was annexed to Rus by Czar Ivan IV in 1552, there started the active development of natural resources of the new territory, where salt

 

See: V. Perkhavko, "Soft Gold", Science in Russia, No. 4, 2008.--Ed.

 
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Patrimonial estate of the Stroganovs (present Perm Territory is shown in the north-eastern corner of the map). 1745.

 

could be produced from ground waters, and squirrels and sables were in abundance.

 

From Solvychegodsk (today in the Arkhangelsk Region) there came Anika Stroganov, a man endowed with an unusual business talent, foresight and managerial abilities, who predicted a brilliant future for the Kama area. Proposing to take care of local "no man's" expanses, to defend them from Nogais (Turkic tribes making raids from the lower reaches of the Volga river) and Siberian Tatars, and start up business there, his son reported to Ivan IV in 1558: there are "waste lands, black forests, wild rivers and lakes... But up to this day the fields were not tilled, and farms did not exist on these lands, and no duty was paid from there to the treasury of the czar and grand prince..."

 

The czar approved the good cause and even exempted the Stroganovs from taxes for 20 years, but obliged them "to set up a town there in a convenient place, to arrange guns and arquebuses in the town..., to cut nearby forests along the rivers and lakes, to till the fields and build up farms...". Thus, these people, not poor even at that time, got a chance to become the richest people in Russia, and their descendants managed to become prominent landowners and state figures bearing the titles of barons and counts.

 

In the Ural region salt was produced from underground sources already in the Stone Age. According to scientists, our remote ancestors let down an animal skin under the ground and recovered it after it became impregnated with brine, then dried it and scraped off from it valuable crystals. By the way, scores of stone articles suitable for this purpose, such as scrapers, tools like chisels and knives, spikes, plates and cutters, were discovered in 2003 at a Paleolithic dwelling site aged 17,000 years in the center of Perm by members of the Kama Archeological Expedition of Perm State University headed by Andrei Melnichuk, Cand. Sc. (History).

 

In the 16th-17th centuries salt was produced from the bowels of the earth by means of wells with two pipes, one inside the other. They were made of hollowed out tree stems. The outside pipe up to 25 m long had external and internal diameters 62 cm and 40 cm respectively. The other, more narrow one, was deeply inserted into the first. The total length of that pipeline made up 50-70 m.

 
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The salt brine running up in the pipeline, got through wooden chutes into a closed area--a large pan hanging over a fire, where water evaporated and there remained salt. This process was gradually improving due to technological progress, and the Stroganovs were the first in the country to use its achievements. Thus, in 1825 the use of steam engines for pumping out subsoil waters was pioneered just at the Stroganovs works.

 

The "salt kings" strictly observed their obligations to the state. They constructed fortresses, roads and churches and attracted workers to their works, which resulted in population growth in the Perm Territory. The particularly intensive development of the mining business started there in the late 17th-early 18th centuries. The Perm land became a "cradle" of the national mining industry. It was there that iron ore was found at that time, which was by no means inferior in quality to the Swedish ore accepted as the best in Europe. A century later, in 1820, auriferous sands were discovered, then in 1829 the first Russian diamond, and again a century later oil were also found there.

 

But it is by far not all the wealth of the Ural Region! Over 500 kinds of mineral resources were discovered there altogether. Apart from the above stated, it is rich in coal, peat, gypsum, marble, dolomites, lime, sands, keramsite clays, mineral paints, chromite (the only in Russia), iron and strontium ores, and many others. However, the Verkhnekamsk potash salt deposit is the main resource of the Perm Territory. Being developed since 1934, it is the largest in Russia and ranks second in the world (after the Saskatchewan deposit in Canada).

 

Such wealth of the local land is attributed to its structure and geological history, which resulted, in particular, in appearance of such rocks which lay before deep in the ground. In 1840, the Scottish geologist and Member of the Petersburg Academy of Sciences from 1845 Roderick Murchison in the course of an expedition to the Kama area defined the Permian period as the last one in the Paleozoic*, the Permian started around 300 mln years ago and continued almost 50 mln years. At that time, the climate was tropical and sea waves were splashing tenderly. The land was gradually rising, the sea dried up, and its former bottom got covered with sedimentary rocks. Thus, this territory became, so to say, the salt capital of Europe.

 

In 1720, by order of Emperor Peter the Great, Vasily Tatishchev went "to the Siberian provinces ... and other areas to look for suitable places to construct copper and silver smelteries." Tatishchev chose several places including one on the Kama river bank near the Yegoshikha village, where in 1723 the construction of a copper smeltery started, which led first to the emergence of a settlement and later on of a town around it.

 

* Paleozoic is a geological era, which started 542 mln years ago and continued for about 290 mln years.--Ed.

 
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By the way, it was Tatishchev who gave the name "Urals" to the mountains* dividing Europe and Asia, which were first named Riphean or Hyperborean (ancient authors), then the Stone or Earth Belt (in the Russian chronicles and official documents of the 12th-17th centuries). In 2003, on the occasion of the 280th anniversary of Perm, a 4 m bronze monument was set up to the city founder (artist, Anatoly Uralsky): he stands on a high pedestal with a layout of the Yegoshikha smeltery.

 

In the 1750s-1770s, there appeared new buildings in the town, which today make up its historical center with architectural monuments. They include both civil and religious constructions with the earliest stone structure--the five-domed St. Peter and St. Paul Cathedral (1755-1764). The flowering of the city planning art here fell on the late 18th-early 19th centuries, mainly due to Ivan Sviyazev, a son of a serf, who became an architect and a member of the academy, a teacher and the author of over 60 text-books and scientific works. For 10 years of his life in Perm (1822-1832) he erected 31 buildings.

 

Among all works, created by the talented architect, the local citizens show special love towards a graceful construction, which became a basic symbol of Perm and is called by them the Sviyazev rotunda: a round wooden colonnade on a stone base, supporting a hemispherical dome. In 1824, Emperor Alexander I was expected to visit the town, and the governor Kirill Tyufyaev commissioned the architect to build a summerhouse in the Country Garden (today the Gorky Park), which the latter completed successfully. Today it reminds Perm citizens and guests of the only visit to the town of the monarch.

 

The building in the style of late Russian classicism* called the Meshkov House (1820) by the citizens was one of the most significant works of Sviyazev. However, having survived two fires, the building was reconstructed according to the design of the architect Alexander Turchevich in 1885-1886. The then owner of the mansion on the embankment, the entrepreneur and patron of the arts Nikolai Meshkov, was eager to see the building in a state "so as not to be ashamed of it in front of thousands of the local people, who for centuries would sail down the Kama river past our city."

 

It seems that Turchevich managed successfully the set task. The brilliant architect, as called by his contemporaries, preserved much of Sviyazev's initial concept, in particular, strictness and proportionality, characteristic of classicism, but he gave a splendid and solemn, in fact, palatial appearance to the construction. It is proved by the triangular pediment, cornice and casings, arches and balconies richly decorated with various fretwork; stone vases made as a decoration for the roofing; elegant

 

See: A. Chibilyov, "Europe and Asia: Boundary Delimitation", Science in Russia, No. 6, 2011.--Ed.

 

See: Z. Zolotnitskaya, "Lofty Simplicity and Dignity", Science in Russia, No. 3, 2009.--Ed.

 
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façade columns of the first floor and semi-columns of the second floor. It is no mere chance that in 2007 this building was handed over to the Perm Regional Museum, which is the biggest in the Kama area and numbers 600,000 stored items.

 

In 1890, the Ural Society of Natural Science Lovers set up a museum in Perm, which became the first scientific institution in the province. As a basis for it served collections of the local enthusiasts-ethnographers and lovers of the beautiful: paleontological, ethnographic, early printed books and manuscripts of the 16th-17th centuries, paintings of serf artists of the 18th-19th centuries, and a herbarium of the local flora.

 

Of the same age with the museum is the largest arche-ological collection (around 250,000 stored items), first represented by artifacts from the cave sanctuaries of the Nothern and Central Ural and kostishche* of the 4th-2nd centuries B.C. The most interesting part of this fund presents 500 specimens of the Perm animal style (7th cent. B.C.-12th cent. A.D.) well-known to specialists of the whole world. They include articles made of bone, wood, birch-bark, ceramics, leather, fur, bronze and copper, representing relief images of animals, including sacrificial animals (elks, bears and ducks), and also birds, fish, people and sometimes multi-figure compositions. Moreover, ancient craftsmen endowered with rich imagination often created imaginary beings, for example, birds with a wolf head or hybrids of man, bird and elk.

 

Scientists divide such articles into utilitarian ones, say, ornaments, parts of a costume, household goods (found by archeologists mainly in settlements and burial grounds) and religious articles (found on sacrificial altars in holy places). The images, created by unknown artists, reflected the knowledge of the then inhabitants of the Kama area of the nature and human society, and had a strong influence on the development of local applied art--zoomorphic motifs in embroidery, weaving, fur mosaic and wooden sculpture of the northern peoples of Russia, namely, the Komi, Udmurt, Mansi and Khanty. The articles of the Permian animal style are kept in our country, apart from the regional collections, at the State Historical Museum (Moscow) and the Hermitage (St. Petersburg).

 

Among the constructions built by Sviyazev in the city on the Kama river, besides the above-mentioned ones, today we can see a wooden one-storeyed house of the building contractor Nikita Krylov (1827) and also a bell-tower in the style of Russian classicism (1832) of the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior (1793-1832, built with the participation of the great architect Matvei Kazakov). Since 1931 this church has been hous-

 

Kostishche is an archeological monument the cultural layer of which is rich in bone finds. It is an ancient sacrificial place.--Ed.

 
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ing the Perm State Art Gallery founded in 1922 and today being among the major art museums of not only in the Urals but also in Russia. It includes over 43,000 works representing fine arts of different countries and epochs, including the European art of the 15th-20th centuries, namely, Russian, British, German, Italian, French and Flemish, and also ancient and Japanese.

 

The gallery is proud of its unique collection of the Permian wooden religious sculpture numbering 400 monuments of the 17th-early 20th centuries collected mainly in the northern areas of the territory. The history of this type of decorative-applied art typical only of the Kama area is connected with the spread of the Christianity, which did not eradicate, however, the heathen tradition to cut idols out of wood. That is why the statues of the orthodox saints and angels appeared in the local churches at that time with the consent of the local clergy. Initially the favorite images of the unknown craftsmen were Nikolai Mozhaysky, a defender of towns and settlements and a supporter of travelers, and Paraskeva Pyatnitsa, a patroness of farming, trade and home. In the heyday of this genre, in the second half of the 18th-the first half of the 19th centuries, there appeared extremely expressive and highly humane images, first of all, of Christ in a dungeon (there are around 20 of them in the museum) personifying meekness, humbleness and martyrdom.

 

Traveling around Perm one ought to stop at one of its most elegant buildings known to its residents as the Gribushin House (1895-1897), built in the Art Nouveau* style. The above-cited architect Alexander Turchevich created a fine building in white-blue colors with a façade decorated with columns, while the self-taught artist Pyotr Agafyin used stucco moulding in the interior and outside walls. Besides, female heads created by him resembled the photos from the family album. Today this building

 

See: T. Geidor, "Russian Architecture of the Silver Age", Science in Russia, No. 6, 2009.--Ed.

 
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houses the Scientific Center of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

 

Another creation of Turchevich is a very elegant mansion also in the Art Nouveau style, which belonged to the rich entrepreneur and a patroness of arts Lyubimova (end of the 19th cent.), and which today houses the Young People's Theater. There is also the first in the Ural area and, moreover, one of the oldest in Russia, the Tchaikovsky Academic Opera and Ballet Theater in the city. Back in 1846, a wooden building was constructed in the city for performances, and the same year Perm lovers of the beautiful had an opportunity to listen to four operas, including Askold's Grave by Alexei Verstovsky, one of the first national and the most popular operas in Russia at that time.

 

The staging of the opera Life for the Czar (Ivan Susanin) by Mikhail Glinka, father of the Russian classical music school, was an important event in the life of the theatrical group and also of the whole city in 1870. Participating in this performance were members of the Perm Branch of the Russian Musical Society and the theater company of the well-known Russian entrepreneur Ananiy Kheruvimov, a man of education, great abilities and intellect. In 1877, the construction of a stone building for the theater started under the direction of architects Rudolph Karvovsky and Vasily Popatenko. The project envisaged a hall for 800 seats, an orchestra pit, the stalls and two circles. Moreover, to achieve the best acoustic effect, the ceiling was made of resonance spruce*, and porcelain acoustic tubes were installed under the stage.

 

The formation process of professional classical dance fell on the 1890s, and nowadays the Tchaikovsky House, as it is called by Perm theatergoers, has become a third Russian ballet mecca after Moscow and St. Petersburg. The company has been on tour in Austria, Italy, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand, Japan and South Korea, Great Britain, Ireland, Holland, Spain, China, USA, and in many other countries, receiving everywhere a hearty welcome.

 

* Resonance spruce, thin spruce plates suitable for manufacture offrantes for musical instruments, acoustic devices, etc.--Ed.

Опубликовано на Порталусе 30 сентября 2021 года

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