Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 3 minutes, 14 seconds
For the first time in its history the Moscow Kremlin Museums exhibit such a great number of artifacts from the museum’s most valuable and significant collection of state regalia and other precious items related to Russian traditional coronation ceremonies and festivities carried out in the Moscow Kremlin from the 16th to the 19th centuries.
The Coronations and Anointing of Russian Tsars and Emperors at the Moscow Kremlin is composed of almost 400 historical relics of high artistic merit, from pieces of state regalia to rarely seen archival documents, photographs and etchings, the exhibition is intended to reveal the atmosphere of coronations and consecration ceremonies in Russia as well as to explore the evolution of these solemn rituals throughout several centuries.
The exposition incorporates two sections, those of the first one covers the consecrations of Russian tsars in the Moscow Rus in the 16th-17th centuries. The rite of anointing of tsar was regarded as one of the most important state official occasions in Russia. It involved several events and culminated in a highly-developed religious ceremonial in the Assumption Belfry, when the sovereign was crowned and invested with state regalia. This service invested the Tsars with political legitimacy; it was equally perceived as conferring a genuine spiritual benefit that bestowed divine authority upon the new sovereign. The section presents a full complex of the state regalia and ornaments, having been developed by the end of the 16th century and used during consecration ceremonies during the 17th century: the reliquary of the True Cross, the "barmy" (ceremonial collar), the crown or “cap” of Monomakh, the chain, scepter and orb. The exposition also includes other distinctive insignia and clothing worn at coronation, i.e. the throne of Boris Godunov, Cap of Monomakh of the Second set, belonged to Tsar Peter Alexeevich, his “platno” (tight-fitting kaftan) and pectoral cross. The exposed pieces of cutlery and dishware were used for serving a lavishly decorated table during sumptuous feasts, prepared on the occasion of the consecration.
The highlight of the second section, dedicated to eleven coronations of Russian Emperors during the 18th-19th centuries, is the new set of Russian regalia, which replaced the ancient tsars’ insignia after Peter the Great proclaimed himself Emperor of Russia in 1721 and declared the Russian Empire. The barmy was replaced with a new coronation mantle and the Cap of Monomakh - with one modelled on Western European-style crowns. The scepter and orb were still required for the coronation ceremony, which also involved a badge and chain of the highest Russian Order of St. Andrew the First-Called, the Banner of the State, the State seal and the Sword of the State. The exposition also includes coronation uniforms of every Russian Emperor from Peter I to Nicholas II, coronation mantles and huge baldachins (canopies) intended for coronation procession and decoration of the throne seat in the Assumption Belfry. Of special interest are the costumes of a coronation heralds, luxurious warders of Masters of Ceremonies, commemorative medals and badges.
Precious church utensils and vestments of the church hierarchs are also on display. Our visitors will admire processional sanctuary crosses, offered to monarchs at the Assumption cathedral’s door by the Orthodox prelates, the icons, venerated by them when entering the cathedral, items from liturgical set, used for receiving Holy Communion during the Divine Liturgy.
The Tsar’s banquet, held in the Faceted Chamber at the conclusion of the coronation festivities, was furnished with every delicacy which could be procured; the precious ancient silverware was derived from the Armoury Chamber for setting tables. The famous porcelain service set, served at the coronation banquets of Alexander II, Alexander III and Nicholas II is of special note.
The exhibition was preceded by laborious research and restoration works, having been carried out on many of the exposed items, which made the presentation of the relics possible.
The exhibition is accompanied by a two volume catalogue which explores the coronations and consecration ceremonies carried out in the Moscow Kremlin from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Volume I: 16th - 17th centuries, 140 pages and Volume II: 18th - 19th centuries, 372 pages. Text is in Russian with English summary and annotations.
The catalogue is richly illustrated, many of the items are published in detail for the first time. It presents outstanding masterpieces from the Moscow Kremlin funds of the 16th-19th centuries, from pieces of state regalia to rarely seen archival documents, photographs and etchings, as well as informative essays and articles on the history of coronation ceremonies in Russia throughout several centuries and peculiarities of solemn celebrations accompanying the Russian sovereigns' accession to the throne.
The Coronations and Anointing of Russian Tsars and Emperors at the Moscow Kremlin has been organized by: the Moscow Kremlin Museums with the participation of the State Hermitage, State Historical Museum, State Museum and Estate "Pavlovsk", State Archive of the Russian Federation, Russian State Archives of Ancient Documents, Russian State Library, Research Library of the Russian Academy of Arts, Russian State Archive of Documentary Films and Photographs, St. Petersburg State Museum of Theatre and Music.
The exhibition runs until January 22nd, 2014 in the Assumption Belfry and the Patriarch's Palace of the Moscow Kremlin.
© Moscow Kremlin Museum. 10 October, 2013