Дата публикации: 09 ноября 2021
Автор(ы): Olga BAZANOVA
Публикатор: Научная библиотека Порталус
Источник: (c) Science in Russia, №4, 2013, C.87-92
Номер публикации: №1636448430

Olga BAZANOVA, (c)

by Olga BAZANOVA, journalist


Late in 2012 an exhibition on the culture and everyday life of Tuvinians was opened in the former Provisions Stores, today an exhibition complex of the Museum of Moscow. It displays only a part of the extensive stocks of the Aldan Maadyr National Museum in Kyzyl, capital of the Republic of Tuva. More than 300 exhibits acquaint guests with the land's nature, history, decorative and applied arts, its customs and beliefs.


The former Provisions Stores on Krymskaya Square in Moscow were built in 1829-1835 under the supervision of Fyodor Shestakov to the design of Vasily Stasov. These depots were meant for storing food reserves for military units quartered in Moscow at Khamovniki, Spasskoye, Lefortovo and other districts. The architectural ensemble in the style of late classicism* noted for chastity, monumentality and laconism


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


Provisions Stores.

стр. 87


consists of three two-storey rectangular 30 ÷ 80 m storage facilities built in the shape of the Russian letter Ð, and a guardhouse. The walls of the buildings were chalked, with the window shutters, lattice fence, and tall gates for letting in food vans made black--that's what we see today. The wide low-angle entrance ramps take us to the second floor lighted by large Romanesque windows.


According to Alexei Shchusev, a great 20th-century architect and urban development planner (elected to the USSR Academy of Sciences in 1943), the architectural simplicity of the compound livened up only with stucco laurel wreaths and ribbons above the first floor windows "has no equal. A few decorative elements are elaborated with exceptional perfection. The three storehouses form an integral ensemble on a modest land plot. It is not much to say that this group of structures of a purely utilitarian function painted in a simple white color is one of the best in Moscow architecture". We might just as well add: they are among the few public buildings of a similar designation put up in the first half of the 19th century in Moscow still there in the original form.


The transfer of this historic monument to the Museum of Moscow in 2006 is certainly quite natural. The spacious rooms of the storehouses allow to display as many as 990,000 exhibits as well as the standing expositions, such as "Ancient and Medieval Moscow"; "Moscow of the 18th-19th centuries"; "20th-century Moscow", "Personalities of the Time"; "Battle of Moscow as a Prelude to the Great Victory". There is also room enough for every kind of exhibitions held on an international or local level; for concerts, performances, festivals, literary and musical parties... The museum administration moved in there in 2011, too.


The Tuva culture exhibition opened in 2012 displays more than 300 items from the Aldan Maadyr National Museum (Kyzyl), the main storage place of what relates to the history and culture of the Tuva people. Tuva, a land of blue rivers, as it is often called by local folks, lies right in the center of Asia; its midpoint at Kyzyl on one of the shores of the river is marked with an obelisk (1964, artist Vasily Dyomin).


Owing to its unique geographical position the landscapes, the animal and plant kingdoms of this territory are exceptionally diverse. Here you come across as good as all natural zones of the globe, except for savannas and humid tropic forests; reindeer and snow leopards get along quite well with camels. That is why 16 wildlife reserves and 2 nature sanctuaries were set up in the republic; the Ubsu Nur Depression, a monument of the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage*, is one of these sanctuaries.


See: N. Maksakovsky, "Russia in UNESCO World Heritage", Science in Russia, No. 3, 2006--Ed.

стр. 88


The terrain relief is remarkable for high mountains (Altai Mountains in the west, Sayan Mountains in the north and the east, and the Academician Obruchev Range in the middle which occupy almost 82 percent of the whole territory) side by side with deep depressions. Rich in fresh water, this land boasts of 430 lakes, mostly of a glacier origin; the headstream of the Yenisei (Ulugh Hem in Tuvinian), one of the world's greatest rivers, is in Tuva. Besides, there are many mineral water springs (arzhaans) used long since for curative purposes and classed into carbonic acid, siliceous, radon, sulfide and ferriginous acid springs. Large colored wall photos of most scenic sites, such as lakes at the bottom of depressions, steppes out in blossom and wooded river valleys help visitors to get an idea of the vestal nature of this land.


In old days Tuva was on the path of nomad cattle raisers; Oriental armies, thousands of men strong, moved to Europe to seize more and more lands. Therefore different tribes were involved in the birth of the Tuvinian people, with Turkic-speaking tribes making the greatest contribution to the Tuvinian ethnogenesis. In the 7th-8th centuries those were conquerors from the Turkic Khaganate (created by their tribal union in a vast country covering a part of China, Mongolia, Altai, Central Asia, Kazakhstan and the Northern Caucasus); in the 8th-9th centuries those were the Uigurs and later, the Yenisei Kyrghyzes.


In the 13th century Tuva was captured by the Mongol Empire*, at the end of the 17th century--by the Dzun-gar Khanate (association of western Mongol tribes) and in the mid-18th century, by the state of the Ch'ing Dynasty established by the Manchus (people of the Tungusic group) who conquered China, a part of Mongolia and Central Asia. Their rule came to an end only with the Chinese Revolution of 1911, and the following year the authorities of the Land of Blue Rivers requested Russian Emperor Nicholas II for Russian protectorship that was granted in 1914.


The city of Belotsarsk (today Kyzyl), founded the same year in the Tannu Uriankhai Territory as our countrymen called the new region taken under protection, became its capital. In 1921 an independent People's Republic of Tuva was proclaimed, and in 1944 it


* The Mongol Empire, a state which after the conquests of Genghis Khan and his descendants took control of the largest territory in world history (13th cent.), from the Danube river to the Sea of Japan, and from Novgorod the Great to Indochina.--Ed.

стр. 89


joined the Soviet Union; in 2001 its official name became the Tuva Republic.


In the 1920s local Russian intellectuals suggested setting up a museum for artifacts related to the history and nature of this land. Besides, an ancient metal industry discovered there in 1924 spurred an interest in regional explorations. That first cultural and research institution was opened in the capital, Kyzyl. It bears the name of Aldan Maadyr, commemorating 60 heroes in the revolt of arats (cattle raisers) that broke out in 1883-1885 against Manchu officials and local feudal lords.


This rebellion is known as Aldan Maadyr. Vladimir Yermolayev, an enthusiastic researcher and photographer passionately in love with Tuva, was the first director and actual creator of the local museum (he assembled collections, built exhibition stands). The exhibition displays photos from his original negatives on changes brought about in the republic in the early 20th century. In 2008 the museum moved to a new four-storey building, one of the best in Kyzyl.


Today the Aldan Maadyr Museum holds unique collections (over 132,000 items). These are sensational findings made by archeologists in 1970-1974 and 2001-2012 who opened the burial mounds of Arzhaan-1 and Arzhaan-2 (family cemeteries of tribal heads of the 8th and 7th centuries B.C.). They include exquisite articles wrought mainly in the "feral style" from precious metal by Iranian-speaking nomads and known as the "gold of the Scythians". Of no less interest are stelae, in particular, "deer stones" of the 8th-7th centuries B.C. (large plates dressed with images of animals, deer for the most part), and Old Turkic sculptures of the 8th-10th centuries along with collections of coins, rare books, porcelain, photographs and a description of Uighur fortresses of the 8th-9th centuries in Tuva...


The exhibition brought by the Kyzyl museum to Moscow is ethnographical by and large. It is meant to acquaint Moscow residents and guests with the material culture, religious faiths and traditions of the people living in the Land of Blue Rivers. The centerpiece of the exposition is a yurt, a wigwam-like hut, indispensable for nomadic life that can be dismantled and installed just within hours; it is also a model of the world. The hole for smoke on top symbolizes the sun, the outgoing

стр. 90


poles of the framework stand for sunrays, and lattice walls covered with felt, for mountains.


Tuvinians have long-standing traditions of yurt housing. To the left of the entrance there is a men's compartment where felt, clothes, horse harnesses, saddles, hunting implements and the like are kept and where the young stock is sheltered in hard winter frosts. The right side is set aside for females with belongings of the homemaker and children, and also for household utensils. Opposite the entrance and behind the fireplace is a place of honor for the family head and distinguished guests at mealtimes. Behind and against the wall are low wooden lockers ornamented with a dressy pattern, and a bed. An earthen floor is covered with two or three trapezoidal felt carpets; hanging from the walls are fabric bags with salt and tea as well as vessels with oil.


Put on display are also silk holiday costumes, furred headdresses and holiday footwear. Traditional outer garments like gowns with stand-up collars, fur coats and overcoats have a common name, the ton; in summer Tuvinians put on sleeveless jackets, tunics and other pieces. Such costumes are alike in style for women, men and children but differ in numerous symbols, such as decorative designs, elements of sleeve or skirt style and appliqués to tell at once, say, a marriageable girl from a married woman. Women attach two small boxes to their belts: one with a fingernail mending kit to the left and the other with needles, scissors and a thimble to the right. Buttons are the main element of men's dress, often mounted with silver décor.


There are various string and wind instruments jazzed up with exquisite engravings, trim horse harnesses (bits, stirrups, saddles) and exclusive silver ornaments of the late 19th-early 20th centuries including smokers' articles hanging usually from the waist belt. Leather bags for flintstone, pipes with ornamental silver or copper cover strips, cups to light up pipes and similar articles are real masterpieces of decorative art and jewelry. Girls sewed on ornamented metal strips to tobacco pouches made of different textiles or leather for their dear ones.


Tuvinian ladies would use different ornaments--those for hairdo, ears, arms and belt, their hair plaited in braids and adorned with chaplets and metal plates; their earrings were in the shape of flowers, leaflets, shells, and so on. Made mostly of silver with coral, turquoise, nephrite or malachite inserts, such ornaments carried vegetable motifs as a rule. Local beauties adored their jewelry; such things as bracelets, rings and belt pendants sometimes encrusted with semiprecious stones, and passed on to their daughters.

стр. 91


The world-famed stone carving art holds a special place in popular creativity, with quite a few works featured. They are made of the local mineral agalmatolite, a soft yielding material of different color shades, from black to snow-white and from golden pink to red. As in the past, it is being used for making toys, cult worship things, chess pieces, miniature figurines of humans and domestic animals, in particular, camels, rams, horses, goats, elaborately ornamented serpents, fabled lions and other fancy creatures typical of Oriental culture. Works created by Tuvinian craftsmen stand out by their manner of presentation, depicting their images in motion and in different moods. Traditional techniques combine flat-surface elements and those in raised relief.


Tuvinian religion is truly a world phenomenon. It is a symbiosis of Buddhism (Lamaism) and Shamanism, an ancient faith going back to the Bronze Age and based on a worship of ancestors, earth, fire, water, air, totem-ic animals and birds. That worship is still alive. The religious and philosophical system of spiritual revival, originating in ancient India and coming from Mongolia and China incorporated many profane rituals and rites, it completed the pantheon of local good and evil celestial gods and masters of lakes, mountains, rivers and forests.


The advent of Buddhism is still at issue. Some scholars point to the 17th and 18th centuries, while others say it came in the 9th and even the 6th century. But it is certain that the first monasteries in Tuva appeared in the 1770s. Since 1990, religious practices of both Lamaism and Shamanism have experienced a revival. This sphere of life is illustrated in sacred books, Buddha figurines, festal dress of monks, masks of gods and other holies.


A very colorful stand deals with a Tuvinian priest's paraphernalia. This is his garment ("astral body") with pendants, stripes and other ornaments invoking forces assisting in quackery and communication with spirits. Feathers of patronizing birds like the eagle, eagle owl, falcon or wood grouse, on top of the headdress were also to assist in "a flight" to the kingdom of spirits. The headdress is a leather or felt strip, embroidered with colored textile appliqués standing for the eyes and ears ("the shaman sees and hears what is denied to the common run"). A tambourine (lined with the skin of a goat, deer or maral and painted red) is the main go-between in the communication of gods and humans; it is a "vehicle for a journey to the world of spirits and back", a weapon and shield in the fight against evil and, last, the owner's incarnation.


The exhibition displays but a small part of the ethnographic collection of the Aldan Maadyr National Museum numbering more than 8,000 items. To make it up, a videofilm is shown on Tuva's natural and cultural monuments, milestone events of the last few years, bits of archeological evidence and work done by local ethnographers.

Опубликовано на Порталусе 09 ноября 2021 года

Новинки на Порталусе:

Сегодня в трендах top-5

Ваше мнение?

О Порталусе Рейтинг Каталог Авторам Реклама