среда, 22 сентября 2010 г.

Russian North-pomor land

The Arkhangelsk Region belongs to the largest administrative entities in Russia; situated in latitude between the 60.5 and 70 degrees North it is part of the Northern economic area.

From north to south the Region crosses three climatic zones – arctic, sub-arctic and moderate, the coastal line of 3000 km is washed by the White, Barents and Kara Arctic Seas.

Characteristic for the Region is a very dense and full-flowing network of rivers and numerous lakes, there are many mineral water deposits of medicinal value, picturesque and variable landscapes of the northern nature which has survived in its primordial state.

In the west the Region borders with the Karelia Republic, in the south – with the Vologda and Kirov Regions, in the east - with the Komi Republic and the Tyumen Region.

The Region area is 587 thousand square km. The population was 1.3 million people. The national structure of the Arkhangelsk Region population is comparatively homogeneous (Russians make 92 % of the population).

The population density is 2.5 per 1 square km. 75 % of people live in towns and cities, 26 % - in the country. The average age is 36 years old. The population capable of working makes 59 % of the whole number of people.

Territorially the Region comprises the Nenets Autonomous District, 20 administrative districts, 14 towns, 38 working settlements, about 4 thousand villages, as well as the islands of Novaya Zemlya and Franz Joseph Land.

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The administrative centre of the Region is the city of Arkhangelsk, which was founded on the Tsar Ivan the Terrible’s order of March 5, 1584, in the mouth of the Northern Dvina River. The largest cities in the Region are Severodvinsk, Kotlas, Novodvinsk, Koryazhma.


Three climatic zones are observed in the territory of the Arkhangelsk Region – the arctic (the northern island of the Novaya Zemlya and Franz Joseph Land), sub-arctic (the Nenets Autonomous District, the Kolguyev and Vaigach Islands) and moderate ( the rest of the Arkhangelsk Region territory). Characteristic for the Region are moderately cold and long winter with much snow, cloudless spring, moderately warm summer, cloudy and rainy autumn. Annual precipitation increases from north to south: in average 27 % of precipitation is snow, 55 % is rain, and 12% is snow and rain.

White Nights Land

It is no mere chance that the Arkhangelsk Region is called the White Nights Land. From the middle of May and almost to the end of July to the north of Polar Circle the sun never disappears behind the horizon; to the south of Polar Circle days are much longer than nights, the latter resembling dawns. In winter the situation is vice versa - the territory to the north of Polar Circle sinks into darkness of a Polar night, in the south the sun rises but very low, and day lasts only 5 hours.

There are good grounds to believe that the first settlers in the North, primordial hunters and fishermen, came here 14 thousand years ago. The evidence of the fact is more than 800 archeological finds from Paleolithic to Middle Ages, material evidence of the settlements of legendary and mysterious Chud and Lope tribes along the Vaga, Pinega, Mezen rivers and on the Lake Lache.

In the 8th century the first groups of Slavs from Rostov-Suzdal and Novgorod areas came to the North. They brought land-cultivating, written language, Christianity with them. From here the Slavs-farmers went to sea and found sea routes to Scandinavia and Siberia; here an original culture of the Pomors formed and it was here that the Russian fleet was destined to be born and the famous ‘three-coloured’ flag to be hoisted.

Quite a special place in developing the area belongs to Russian Orthodox escetics and monasteries. In the 12th-15th centuries there already appeared first cloisters, by the 17th century there had been about 60 monasteries which had become cultural centres and safeguards of the northern borders of the Russian State. The monasteries actively used the latest achievements in engineering, promoted ancient Russian arts. Hundreds of talented icon painters, golden-stitch embroiderers, scribes, jewelers, smiths worked in the monastery workshops.

In the 18th century when the centre of external economic activities in Russia moved to the Baltic region the tempo of social and economic development of the Arkhangelsk North reduced; in the process of becoming a Russian province, nevertheless, the region preserved its original colour, traditions and unique historical and cultural heritage of the Russian northerners.

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The Pomors are a distinctive self-name (ethnonym) of the native ethnicity in the European North of Russia (Pomorye). The ethnonym ‘pomor’ (derived from the words ‘po moryu’ by the sea ) appeared not later than in the 12th century on the southwest (Pomorsky) coast of the White Sea, and in the 14th - 16th centuries it spread far to the south and east from the place of its origin. Ethnogenesis of the Pomors was a result of two cultures merging: of the proto-Pomor, mainly Finno-Ugric tribes (of Chud people) living on the coast of the White Sea and of the first Russian colonists actively populating the areas in Zavolochye.

In the 12th - 15th centuries the Pomorye area was a colony of the Great Novgorod. In the 15th - 17th centuries the Pomorye was a geographic name for a large economic and administrative territory along the coast of the White Sea, of the Onega Lake and along the Onega, the Northern Dvina, The Mezen, the Pinega, the Pechora, the Kama, the Vyatka rivers and up to the Urals. By the beginning of the 16th century Pomorye was annexed by Moscow. In the 18th century the 22 ‘uyezds’ of Pomorye were mainly populated by free ‘black wooden plough’ peasants. In the 19th century Pomorye was called the Russian North, the European North of Russia, etc. Later the term ‘Pomorye’ was ‘eroding’, the general term ‘severyane’ (the Northeners) supplanted the ethnonym ‘Pomors’; in spite of the active processes of assimilation of the Pomors by the Great Russian ethnos (ethnonym ‘Great Russian’ appeared in the 19th century) they have preserved their ethnic (national) identity to this day. The evidence of the fact is the result of the All-Russia Census of 2002 – many people defined their nationality as that of the Pomor (Census Register Code № 208 - «nationality - Pomor»).

The evidence of the ethnic entity of the Pomors is their ethnic (national) identity and a self-name (ethnonym ) ‘Pomors’, common historical territory (Pomorye), common culture and common language (the Pomor ‘govorya’- from the word ‘govorit’ – to speak), ethnic (national ) character, ethnic religious ideology (the Pomorskaya Ancient Russian orthodox Church), common traditional economy and other factors.


вторник, 21 сентября 2010 г.

Iron casts from Kasli

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Forests and lakes near Kasli

Касли 1910 г.
«Касли 1910 г.» на Яндекс.Фотках
Kasli.Photo by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky (1864-1944)

Kasli, one of the oldest towns of the South Ural, is famous world over thanks to its iron cast sculptures and works of applied art. Ural casting is the leader of artistic and architectural casting of iron and bronze of the 18-20th centuries, known among both art collectors and general public. The heritage of Ural casting art was greatly contributed by sculptors M.D. Kanayev, N.R. Bakh, P.K. Klodt, and E.A. Lanceray. The traditions of Kasli iron casting (graphic-like accuracy of the silhouette, combination of elaborate details and generalized planes with energetic play of highlights) took shape in the 19th century Russia-ic.com reports.

In 1747 merchant Yakov Korobkov from Tula founded the Kasli Iron-Smelting Plant in the South Ural. He had bought spacious plots from the Bashkirs for a song. The land proved to be extremely rich in pine woods, lakes, and iron ore, deposited almost on the surface. In 1752 the Kasli Plant was purchased by Nikita Demidov, a famous owner of numerous plants in the Ural and Siberia. By that time the plant had been smelting cast iron, turned over into ploughshare, flat and bulk iron. Cannons and cannonballs were sent to the centre of Russia from the Ural . Demidov's iron had its own trademark - two rampant sabers. It was of the highest quality in the world!

In the 18th century the plant was famed for its excellent iron, and later, in the 19th century, it became renowned for its artistic iron casting. It was favoured by the fact that Kasli harboured great reserves of quality mould sands, and timber to produce coal.

The first casts of Kasli iron appeared in the 1850s. Those were big articles, such as flagstones, railings, garden benches, and tombstone bas-reliefs. In the 1860-1890s the art and craft of iron casting reached its peak. In those years the Kasli Iron-Casting Plant took numerous prizes and medals at exhibitions in Petersburg, Vienne, Philadelphia, Stockholm, etc.

The greatest glory and fame was gained at the Paris World Exhibition in 1900, where a unique work - a cast iron pavilion was displayed.

Kasli masters had cast a huge iron Byzantine style palace, which amazed the foreign countries with its fantastic idea and daring implementation. N. Laveretsky's sculpture "Russia" depicting a warrior-woman, with confidence and dignity defending the world, decorated the entrance to the pavilion and was its major element.

The wonder-pavilion was recognized the masterpiece of casting art and took the Grand Prize of the exhibition. Nowadays the pavilion is permanently exhibited in the Yekaterinburg Picture Gallery, whereas an enlarged copy of the sculpture "Russia" is kept in the Moscow Kremlin.

Thus, the Kasli craftsmen glorified the art of Ural masters that had turned the unyielding grim cast iron into wonderful material for refined sculptures and other works of art.

Kasli artistic iron casting presents an entire realm of various themes and plots: from a peasant ploughman to the Venus of Milo, from massive solemn gravestones to a finest fob chain, from monumental sculpture figures to miniature statuettes of gentle ballerinas, from gratings for grand constructions to refined garden furniture, from plain household dishes to openwork plates, vases, caskets, candlesticks, and ashtrays. The Kasli plant also produced a wide range of architectural casting, including railings for parks and palaces of Saint Petersburg, and for bridges of Moscow.

The Kasli iron casts enjoy extraordinary popularity. They are so widely spread that have become innumerable, just like wild flowers in the spaciousness of Russian expanse.

Saturated with picturesque Russian nature and having insight into its beauties, the masters of Kasli managed to embody them in enlivened iron, otherwise quite a grim and hard material. The works of Kasli artistic iron casting amaze with the feeling of longevity, strength and solidity, not to say eternity, despite all the visual fragility and delicacy of some openwork casts.


четверг, 2 сентября 2010 г.

The Third Kremlin Clock Tower

On July 19, 1425, the Italian architect Anton Fryazin (Antonio Gislardi) laid the first stone of the Tainitskaya Tower on the south wall of the Moscow Kremlin.

Tainitskaya Tower from the Moscow River

Aesthetically, the tower is quite effective. It is the oldest of the towers standing today, and its creation marked the beginning of the transformation of the Kremlin from the white-wall fortress of Dmitry Donskoy to the one we see today, similar to a the Castello Sforzesco in Milan. And there is strange in this similarity, as practically all of the architects invited to Moscow by Ivan III were Italians. And an Italian at that time in Russian were called Fryazin, which is why Anton(io) is referred to as such in Russian history books.

It is difficult to believe that at that time the Tainitskaya Tower was one of the most important in the Kremlin. It guarded, together with a second tower, the lowest point in the fortress walls. And it faces the river, the most dangerous of sides, as potential enemies were expected primarily from the south. The tower incorporated well reinforced gates surrounded by an archery perch. The tower was also one of the first to be capped with a roof similar to the ones typical of the Kremlin today.

Tainitskaya Tower in the XIX Century

Today few are aware of the fact that the Tainitskaya Tower, along with Spasskaya and Troitskaya towers, included chiming clock, albeit a small one. The chore of minding the clocks was not considering a prestigious one back in those days, and the archives contain a multitude of complaints from the clock winders. The complaints are familiar ones: years go by without getting paid, no money is allocated to repair the clock mechanisms, the roof is in disrepair… The clock was later dismantled, along with the archery perch, and never restored.

Seven decades after it completion, the Tainitskaya Tower was completely dismantled to make room for the planned Kremlin palace. However, the government couldn’t find enough money to implement that project and the tower was rebuilt in it former form. However, the rebuilt tower was destroyed by the French when they occupied Moscow in 1812. The tower we see today is the third version, rebuilt during the reconstruction of the city after the war.

In 1860, once again according to the designs of an Italian architect, the archery perch was restored. But this time cannon artillery was installed, and they for many years (as in St. Petersburg) were fired every day at noon.

In the early 1930s the cannons were removed as was the archery perch, and to this day the Tainitsky Garden near the tower remains off limits to the general public…

Geogry Osipov