HOLY RUSSIA
in the Labyrinths of History

Source: TVkultura.ru. Language: Russian. Duration: 3 minutes, 32 seconds

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A grand exhibition named Holy Russia, which conquered the hearts of Parisians last year and attracted 260,000 visitors during its stay at the Louvre, is now on display in Russia at the famous Moscow Tretyakov Gallery (26th May-14th August).

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who opened the exhibition at the Louvre, was so impressed by the exhibits from 25 Russian museums and libraries that he heartily encouraged showing them in Russia. The state has allocated 120 million roubles for the transportation of the exhibition to Russia and organizing a showing here. For Parisians, the display was arranged in chronological order – from the baptism of Russia and the establishment of the Orthodox religion to the 20th century – and mostly had educational purposes. For the Russians the exhibits are arranged so as to create an integrated image of Holy Russia and bring a sense of unity between religion and culture and an understanding of the historical role of the Orthodox Church in helping Russia to overcome feudal division and consolidate as a country.

The first honourable guest of the exhibition was Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. He visited the exhibition together with the Russian President’s wife Svetlana Medvedeva on the Day of the Russian Alphabet and Culture, the 24th of May. Director of the Tretyakov Gallery Irina Lebedeva says that a very interesting historical fact suddenly came to light.

“At the end of the tour the last exhibit I planned to show was the letter of the Constantinople Council on the establishment of the Patriarchate in Moscow, - Irina Lebedeva recalls. – This happened in 1590. I showed the letter as a unique exhibit. Much to my surprise, the Patriarch said that this letter is still a valid legal document. We could never have thought this!”

Anyway, almost all of the 450 rarities displayed at the exhibition can be considered “living” pieces of history. Icons in precious settings, crosses, church ware , manuscripts, priest vestments embroidered with gold and everything else intended for Russian churches was always of the very best. According to legend, the Princes of Kiev who baptized Russia chose the Byzantine version of Christianity for the beauty and grandeur of its rituals.

Take the unparallelled Golden Gate which opens the exhibition. One day it decorated a church in Suzdal. The gate is made of metal and weighs almost 600kg; it is decorated with Biblical stories fashioned using fire gilding. This gate amazed the visitors at the Louvre no less than the setting for the Trinity icon by Andrey Rublev made at the end of the 16th century on commission of Czar Boris Godunov. Precious 12th century Venetian cameos were used to inlay the setting.

The treasures displayed at the Holy Russia exhibition can be better studied with the help of modern technology. Ancient manuscripts have been digitalized and can be leafed through virtually. Architectural backgrounds are projected onto large screens and allow visitors to appreciate famous churches and monasteries with which the exhibits are associated. Finally, a special guide-book with detailed explanations helps to navigate in the labyrinths of the exhibition and the labyrinths of Russian history.

Source and Copyright: The Voice of Russia
27 May, 2011