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Порталус


TOWN OF WONDERWORKERS

Дата публикации: 02 ноября 2021
Автор(ы): Olga BORISOVA
Публикатор: Научная библиотека Порталус
Рубрика: RUSSIA (TOPICS)
Источник: (c) Science in Russia, №2, 2013, C.82-88
Номер публикации: №1635844358


Olga BORISOVA, (c)

by Olga BORISOVA, journalist

 

"Two silver rapiers on dark red... superposed by a silver rifle, with one gold hammer above and another below. Such is the handiwork of the worthy armory of this town." These laudatory lines were in the description of the emblem endorsed anno 1778 for the town of Tula, famous for its artisans and blacksmiths plying their trade thanks to a brown iron ore (limonite) deposit nearby.

 

The name Tula comes up in the Nikonovian Chronicle of the 16th century; it mentions the town's foundation date, the year 1146. However, this passage was added to the main text decades after. The first credible written record is found in the deed sealed in 1382 between Dmitry Ivanovich Donskoi, the grand duke (prince) of Muscovy and Oleg Ivanovich, the ruler

 

of the Ryazan principality* In it the town of Tula was said to be located at the confluence of two livers, the

 

See: K. Averyanov, "St. Sergius of Rhadonezh Puzzle", Science in Russia, No. 5, 2008; O. Bazanova, "Two Capitals of Grand Principality", Science in Russia, No. 1, 2010.-Ed.

 

The Tula kremlin.

 
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Upa and the Tulitsa, the Upa flowing into a larger river, the Oka. Such is the hardcore bit of evidence. Yet historians say the town's history stretches back to the 12th century, what with the key position of the new stronghold south of Moscow founded about the same time.

 

This land had supped much sorrow: marauding raids of the Golden Horde Tartars between the 13th and 15th centuries, and of the Crimean Tartars in the 16th century. The invaders devastated the neighborhood, leaving wrack and ruin behind-burned houses and churches built of wood for the most part as in other Russian principalities. In 1503 Tula joined Muscovy to become a key strongpoint on its southern borders, among a string of other forts. This defense line had to be reinforced to ward off the enemy. So Grand Duke (Prince Vassily III of Muscovy ordered to put up in Tula an impregnable citadel "wrought of stone" similar to one in Moscow, the kremlin.* This fortress was erected between 1514 and 1521. Impregnable it was-never captured by the foe, it sheltered townspeople during sieges. It was there, within the Tula kremlin, that the first town street was built.

 

The socle and the foundation of the Tula kremlin were built of white stone, with its structure supported by large solid piles of oak. Its wall was of full brick and mortar. It had nine towers for bastions. Those were Spassky ("Our Savior's", with a tocsin to warn the Tula townspeople of the approaching enemy); Ivanovsky (or Tainitsky with an underpass to the Upa); Nikitsky (used as a powder depot and also as a dungeon and torture chamber)... Another tower served as a storage of victuals, weapons and powder to be used only in a long siege. Four towers were supplied with entry gates. At first they had no hip roofs we can see today-they were added in the 18th century. Within the citadel were open spaces with harquebuses (portable firearms later replaced by the musket).

 

Each tower was in three or four levels: the lower ones used as ammunition storerooms, and the upper, for cannon mounted on gun-carriages. Staircases of stone interconnected the floors, and passages were cut through the fortress wall. Tula builders supplied the kremlin with machicoulises, that is loopholes or embrasures, first made within the Moscow Kremlin. Such loopholes enabled the besieged to shoot at the stormers from above, stone them, and pour hot tar and pitch on their heads.

 

The strategic position of Tula and the deposit of limo-nite, or brown iron ore, mined as early as the 12th and 13th centuries, proved decisive for local trades and

 

See: T. Geidor, "Masterpieces That Endure", Science in Russia, No. 1, 2009.--Ed.

 

occupations. In the year 1594 Czar Feodor Ioannovich, son of Ivan the Terrible, exempted Tula gunsmiths from local taxes and duties-they were to cater to the court directly. Thereupon the Tula armorers founded a slobo-da, or suburb, of their own dubbed a "township of blacksmiths"; their ranks kept growing, and so did their handiwork as well. In 1632 a Dutch master, merchant and industrialist, Andrei Vinnius by name, was granted a cash credit from Czar Mikhail Feodorovich to built Russia's first iron foundry. Tula became an "arsenal of the State of Russia" making artillery guns, cannon balls, pole-axes, daggers, harquebuses and that sort of thing. Nikita Demidov, a master blacksmith and entrepreneur, became active in Tula at the close of the 17th century. He was one of the first Russian industrialists (heretofore industrial enterprises had been owned by foreign subjects or else by Russian aristocrats). Czar Peter I, who visited Tula in the early seventeen-hun-dreds, was satisfied with the work of its masters and soon after, during the Great Northern War of 1700-1721 against Sweden and her allies, ordered a consignment of weaponry for his troops. In 1712 Peter the Great ordered that a fiscal (state-owned) mill be built in Tula; it was a pioneer in Russia's defense industry and just two years after, started arms deliveries for the army.

 
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In 1724 came the czar's ukase: "Not remelt or destroy old guns and flint-lock rifles but hand curiosities like that to armories for upkeep." Decades after, in 1775, Empress Catherine II issued an order on setting up in Tula an armory of rare and model weapons, which came to be visited by courtiers, government ministers, army generals and guests from abroad.

 

In 1789 the empress had the exhibits of the Tula Armory moved to the Armory of the Moscow Kremlin and other places. Still, the number of collectibles kept on the rise. In the 1870s General Vassily Notbek, chief of the Tula arms mill, had it streamlined and modernized, and decided to re-establish a collection of rare weaponry. Furthermore, he had the old collection back in Tula and in 1873, an armory museum was opened there in a gala ceremony within an administrative edifice. The first guests could have a look at 165 makes of Tula armorers displayed in 17 showcases arranged for the purpose.

 

Today the Tula State Armory Museum* has as many as 8,000 items in its care. A collection of cold steel all the way from the 17th down to the 20th centuries is one of the largest and most varied in the inventory. Raising a regular army, Peter the Great had it furnished after the West European model, scrapping such antiques as spears and harquebuses. Put on display are swords with straight narrow blades meant for foot soldiers; broadswords for

 

See: L. Budayeva, "Skill of National Armorers", Science in Russia, No. 3, 2010.--Ed.

 
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dragoons and cuirassiers; sabers, or heavy swords with one cutting edge and a long, usually curved blade; and curved cavalry swords that came into use in the early nineteen-hundreds.

 

Alongside ordinary, utilitarian weapons are also ceremonial pieces to match full-dress uniforms-subtle bits of work like ornamented blades and swords fitted with gilded hilts and all kinds of inlays down to shark skin. There is a stylish cap for army generals along with daggers and dirks for commissioned officers of different arms of service. Among foreign-made curiosities of the 19th century we might as well mention a Prussian saber, a combination bayonet-and-sword attached to the English Enfield rifle, and many other things like a Turkish yatagan blade, Caucasian dirsk-bebuts (curved) and kamas (straight, with a sharp tip). Visitors can feast their eyes on the Malayan kris (wavy) steel and some of the African battle gear like the trumbash cutlass and pinga missile knives.

 

While stone weapons (flint axes, knives, and arrow-and spear-heads) were known from time immemorial-as far back as the Stone Age, firearms came only with the invention of powder in China supposedly in the 5th century A.D. Here in Russia the first mention of explosives was made in the St. Sophia Annals (a chronicle written by priests of the St. Sophia Church in Novgorod the Great in 1432). It tells how Khan Toktamysh of the Golden Horde beleaguered Moscow; for three days of the assault he was unable to capture the city because of the stiff resistance offered by Muscovites firing on the enemy from harquebuses, the "city gun details".

 

Demonstrated in the museum is a collection of bolts used to detonate a charge. At first one made use of fire-brands (16th-17th centuries) and then of flint locks-flint-lock rifles were in use down to the mid-19th century. Cartridges appeared at the turn of the 18th century-first in Europe and soon after, in Russia as well. The cartridge combined a bullet, a powder charge and a percussion cap hit by a firing-pin as one pulled the trigger to make a shot. In the latter nineteen-hundreds cartridges came into universal use by replacing the oldtime flint locks; with minor modifications, this technique still holds.

 

Meanwhile firearms came to be revolutionized as of the mid-19th century-smooth-bore (plain-barrel) guns were replaced with rifled ones (their barrels supplied with spiral grooves); such rifles were loaded from the breech-end, not from the muzzle, or mouth; this made it possible to boost the rate, range and accuracy of fire severalfold.

 

There appeared many varieties of firearms-automatic machine- and submachine guns, sports rifles, guns that could be fired under water, pistol-knives for sconts, and so forth. These kinds of guns are on display. The collection of firearms manufactured by Russian gunsmiths in the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries as well as weapons of foreign make is all too great, it defies description; but here are some of them.

 

About two hundred years ago the Russian army was making use of blunderbusses or shotguns with wide muzzles to make it more convenient to get in the powder and caseshot; there were also handguns of the Dragoons ("little mortars" fitted with a short barrel and a massive butt, enabling riders to shoot pig-iron grenades straight from the saddle. Such firearms are on display, too, along with a Cossack rifle designed in 1860 by Alexander

 
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Chernolikhov and manufactured in Belgium. Among the rarities holding pride of place in the museum are a hunting carbine made in 1775 in memory of Empress Catherine's visit to Tula; and hunting gun loaded from the breech-end-it was presented as a gift by Goltyakov, who ministered to the needs of the royal court in the 1870s and 1880s, to Prince Nikolai Nikolayevich.

 

Likewise shown are genuine masterpieces like a Russian percussion cap (1840s) and an English flint pistol (end of the 18th century), both meant for duelists. Close by we see Russian-made rifles for infantrymen and mounted Dragoons as well as a hunting gun-these firearms were made in the latter eighteen-hundreds. They are real works of art decorated with carvings, gilding, engravings, and ivory inlays. The museum exhibits quite a bit of documentary evidence and photographs on the Tula mill and Russian armorers at large: certificates of the Russian royal court, honorary diplomas awarded at world's fairs as well as the literature on the history of weapons in Russia and abroad since time out of mind.

 

The main exposition of the Tula museum has moved for the time being to the kremlin's Church of the Epiphany erected in 1855 to 1862 to commemorate Tula denizens who fell in battle during the Patriotic War of 1812 against the Napoleonic troops. Meanwhile a new and more spacious building has been put up for the museum on the Upa embankment, but thus far only a part of its collection is there. Built on the grounds of the Tula kremlin is also the Assumption (Dormition) Church (1762-1766), a wonderful model of the Russian baroque. Its monumental cube with the lush decor of facades is crowned by five gilded domes mounted on octagonal drums. The magnificent interior, spacious and bright, is adorned with frescoes rendered by master "mural painters of the town of Yaroslavl" in 1762-1767, and with a carved six-level iconostasis wrought by Tula craftsmen (of the original sixty-six icons 56 are still there).

 
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With the end of the 1812 Patriotic War the Tula metal-working enterprises had to shift to peacetime production. Tea imported from China and the samovar that came in its wake spread throughout Russia. Tea-making and tea-drinking became a national Russian pastime. There are several versions about the origin of samovars, these "water-heating urns with a tube and a brazier inside", as the Explanatory Dictionary of the Living Great Russian Language compiled by Vladimir Dahl informs us. As we learn it from written records, in 1778 Feodor Lisitsyn, a gunsmith, and his son established Tula's first workshop for making samovars.

 

So the triumphant march of the samovar, "the king of the table", began. The Tula Samovars museum opened in 1990 next to the kremlin in 1990 has every kind of samovars in its custody-from giants (holding as much as 70 liters or about 20 gallons) in eating places to tiny ones, just for "five drops of water." The ground floor exposition features the industry of teakettles, or "tea machines" as they were called in Europe in the seven-teen-hundreds and early eighteen-hundreds. There is an array of other related vessels like those for whipped-up potions (sbiten) made of herbs, spices and honey, and hardware of the Lisitsyn workshop, along with all kinds of makes (such as kegs-small barrels usually holding five to ten gallons; vases, wine-glasses, and other pieces of glassware). Here you find coffeepots (for travelers, too) and heaters working on coal, wood or kerosine.

 

Another hall features the heyday of Russian samovars in the latter nineteen-hundreds, namely those manufactured by the Nikolai Batashev factory commissioned in 1840. Batashev-made items merited medals of the World's Fairs in Paris (1889), Chicago (1893), London (1909) as well as medals of All-Russia fairs in Moscow (1882) and Nizhni Novgorod (1896). These medals are there in this hall. There awards attest to the top quality of what the Batashev factory was producing. We learn more about Nikolai Batashev and his family from photographs and personal belongings and other memorabilia. Coming into yet another, third, hall we learn about the present day-how the successors of Tula craftsmen are faring today. The "Stamp" Engineering Plant named after Boris Vannikov, an eminent Soviet industrialist, is turning out a wide variety of samovars-those supplied with braziers, electrical samovars and posh, stylish ones to be presented as a gift.

 

The Russian samovar with its sparkling sides of silver and copper is a real beauty, an invitation to tea-drinking and relaxation. It offers a good chance to pass the time of day and partake of dainties-gingerbread- and honey-cakes, or else the Russian "prianiks", of course. These cakes came into being as far back as the 9th cen-

 
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tury. To make them savory one added honey and berry juices, and much later, in the 16th and 17th centuries, at the time of Great Geographical Discoveries, also spices brought from overseas (peppermint, vanilla, dried orange peel, ginger, nutmeg, clove...). That is why the Russian word for such cakes is literally "spicy" (prianik), with its English equivalent "gingerbread" or "honey-cake".

 

The Russian prianik is quite a tidbit. It is a lovely gift, too: baked in the shape of a heart and decorated with ingenious designs and words of best wishes of good health and luck, such cakes were presented to near and dear ones, friends, and small children as well; in this case most-fun designs and figurines of animals were impressed on the crust above. Prianiks with impressed images and jocose inscriptions were particularly in favor. Say, "I hail from Tula, a samovar's big brother." In a register anno 1685 we read this: local folks "would mend and patch, make knives and ply other handicrafts, and trade in such trifles as nuts and prianiks..."

 

In the 19th century the produce of Tula confectioners gained great popularity, often in for awards, gold and silver medals at world's fairs and for honors from Russian and foreign monarchs. The museum "Tula Prianik" opened in 1996 in a merchant's mansion of the 19th century has much to tell about honey-cakes, pastries, candy and all that. In there you can see, among other things, every kind of boards used by prianik-makers, including those which belonged to industrialists Vassily Serikov and Peter Kozlov, the men known all over Europe. Nice packages and pastries of any size-small like a coin and oversize ones weighing many pounds-are exhibited there, along with other curios.

 

Tula boast of yet another remarkable place-the Exo-tarium founded in 1987 for exotic animal species brought in from different parts of the world. This zoo attracts many visitors. It is famous for Europe's largest collection of nonpoisonous snakes (as many as 524 species and subspecies).* You meet there a variety of reptiles: Para-guyan anacondas-very large snakes crushing their prey in their coils; a five-meter python, a large nonpoisonous snake related to the boa, coiling around and suffocating or crushing its prey; also an African crocodile, and turtles weighing 135 g to 135 kg (this one is the largest in Russia's zoos). There are also giant wood (Cherokee) frogs, giant lizards, chameleons, parrots, monkeys, squirrels, racoons, hedgehogs, striped mangooses-animals capable of killing certain poisonous snakes like cobras... All told the exotic zoo shows more than 70 varieties brought in from different parts of the globe. But this is only a small portion of the collection.

 

The Tula Exotarium has got in touch with the St. Petersburg-based Zoology Institute so as to make a closer study of some of the reptiles that have been but little studied thus far; among them are certain serpentine species. Dozens of reptile groups have produced offspring in captivity like, for instance, a grass snake brought in from Viet Nam.

 

That's how Tula, the town of wonderworkers, is doing. Whatever they do, they do it fine, and their fame spreads far and wide the world over.

 

See: S. Ryabov, "Unique Reptile Zoo", Science in Russia, No. 1, 2010.--Ed.

Опубликовано на Порталусе 02 ноября 2021 года

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